Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Sept. 30

The Daily Numbers: 2 violence incidents last week involving Upper Darby High students that have led to increased security and police presence at the school and surrounding area.

7.25 minimum wage in Pa., which sparked a protest rally outside the courthouse in Media yesterday.

2009, last time the minimum was was hiked in Pa.

38,000 people in Delaware County who would benefit from the push to hike the wage to $10.10

6 video cameras that could be installed on State Street in Media.

33,000 dollars, how much borough council is spending on the cameras.

15, age of alleged victim police say was raped by a 19-year-old in Upper Darby.

30, age of Marple man who pleaded guilty to child porn charges.

317,000 dollars, value of travel packages sold to fans by former local TV sports anchor Don Tollefson, who never delivered the goods. He pleaded guilty yesterday to fraud charges.

37 years in prison, how much Tollefson could face. It’s unlikely he will get anywhere near that, although the prosecutor in the case indicated they will seek some jail time.

200 victims who accused Tollefson of ripping them off, including the family of slain police officer Brad Fox.

43-28 lead for Dem Tom Wolf over Gov. Tom Corbett in latest Pa. governor’s race poll.

41 point decline for the stock market yesterday.

5 percent uptick in penalty charges for ATM machines over the past year.

38 billion dollars in tax revenue from legalized gambling, according to industry survey.

100 million dollars in tax reductions being sought by owners of Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. The city is opposing the move.

7 people from the Philly area who made the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans.

81.2 billion dollar worth for Bill Gates, who continues to top the list.

4 games missed by Eagles OL Lane Johnson on drug suspension. He’s been reinstated and likely will start Sunday vs. Rams.

41-14 blasting of Bill Belichick and the Patriots by Andy Reid and his Chiefs in Monday Night Football.

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

Chip Kelly and the Eagles can’t run, and they can’t hide it either.

I Don’t Get It: There are a lot of good kids at Upper Darby High School. But as usual it’s a few bad apples who are making headlines.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Upper Darby school officials and police for taking quick action to increase police presence and security around the school.

Quote Box: “Those who want to be gangsters will have to deal with the police.”

- Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood, on a couple of violent incidents involving Upper Darby students.

Upper Darby lays down law with kids causing trouble

Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood has a message for the troublemakers who are hell-bent on giving Upper Darby High School a black eye: Knock it off.

Responding to a couple of violent incidents last week, the plain-spoken Chitwood went to the school to deliver the message to kids in person.

He was preaching zero tolerance - and he made it clear who was causing the problems.

"Our concern is that those kids who want to learn have a safe lace to learn," Chitwood said.

Then the chief turned up the heat.

"Those who want to be gangsters will have to deal with the police."

Last week a couple of students were involved in a fight not far from the campus that ended in a stabbing and criminal charges. In addition, a township mother faces charges that she egged on her daughter to settle what appears to have been a bullying incident by duking it out with another girl.

In response, Upper Darby police have increased their presence both before and after school.

It should be noted that this involves a small number of kids. Both Chitwood and school administrators stressed that.

They also want it known that those hell-bent on causing trouble will be dealt with accordingly.

Here's the full story.

Porn-Gate: Just what Corbett did not need

Tom Corbett can't get a break.

A heavy blitz of ads taking on Democratic challenger Tom Wolf failed to move the needle on polls that show him trailing badly.

Corbett got a bit of momentum off a good showing in the first debate that left many of us wonder, 'Where has this guy been the past two years.'

Now Corbett has another problem.

Apparently some of the guys who worked in his office when he was attorney general had a thing for porn.

They received and sent a slew of emails with all kinds of inappropriate material.

Here's the latest, with state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille wondering if any judges were among those sharing these racy emails, and what kind of fallout could result if they were.

And this at a time when his office was conducting the investigation - and being criticized for the way they were going about it - into the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal.

The issue came to light during new Attorney General Kathleen Kane's investigation of the way Corbett's office conducted the probe.

The discussion of some of the images in the emails that have been released so far by Kane's office are enough to make even an old newspaper guy blush.

And all this was being done on state computers.

No one has been charged as yet, and it's not clear even if any rules were broken.

Aside, of course, from the unwritten ones that apparently were not followed by some of Corbett's lieutenants.

It's the last thing Corbett needed. He and Wolf will meet in their second debate Wednesday morning in Philly.

Expect 'Porn-Gate' to be among the things discussed.

Corbett would do well to make some kind of pre-emptive move today, to get out ahead of this controversy, before tomorrow's debate. He's running out of time to cut into Wolf's lead.

And he's got a lot of Republicans across the state watching - and wondering how much longer they can stand by this guy.

The Eagles can't run, and they can't hide

Chip Kelly has a problem.

Actually a big problem.

His team can't run, and now they can no long hide from the problem.

For all its high-tech, up-tempo wizardry, Kelly's offense is based on a fairly old-school premise: He wants to run the ball.

Hence Kelly's dilemma.

The Birds' boss pretty much admitted it in his post-game comments after the Eagles lost a game they could have stolen in San Francisco. With the ball at the Niners' 1-yard line with just under 2 minutes left in the game, the Eagles had two opportunities to punch the ball in and seize the lead.

But Kelly threw the ball on both third and fourth down, trying to get the immobile Nick Foles on the move. First the harried QB missed an open Brent Celek. On fourth down, he fired too high for Jeremy Maclin in the back of the end zone. The NFL's best back, LeSean McCoy did not get an opportunity to get the ball in the end zone. He did, however, miss a key block that forced Foles to rush a throw.

After the game, and again in his post-day presser on Monday, Kelly pretty much admitted he was loathe to try to run the ball behind the patchwork offensive line he fielded after losing three starters, two to injuries and Lane Johnson serving the last of his four-game suspension.

Asked to sum up the problems on the O-line, Kelly refreshingly did not mince words.

"We got whupped," the coach said matter of factly.

The Eagles likely will have Johnson back in the lineup on Sunday when they host the St. Louis Rams at the Linc. That will allow Todd Herremans to slide back inside to right guard and at least solidify one side of the Birds O-line. Jason Peters will anchor the other. but the center of the line and left guard will remain question marks.

The Eagles' inability to run does not bode well for them against the Rams. They will need production on the ground. The Rams are near the top of the league rankings in defending the pass, but trail badly against the run.

If the Eagles want to jolt McCoy out of his funk, this might be the week to do it. But if they struggle to move the ball on the ground, none of Kelly's high-tech wizardry is likely to matter much.

If the Birds aren't able to run, they won't be able to hide this offense's other limitations as well.

It puts too much pressure on Foles, who increasingly looks like a guy who is running for his life behind this patchwork line.

The Eagles need to run the ball and they need a big game from LeSean McCoy. So far the Eagles have managed to post a 3-1 record, despite consistently falling behind, and an offense that seems to take at least a half to get on track.

Take away their special teams play, plus a Pick-6 from safety Malcolm Jenkins, and what you have left from Sunday's game is a zero for the Eagles' offense. That's how many points they produced.

And that includes two crucial plays late in the game from the Niners' 1-yard line.

That can't happen again.

Here's beat writer Bob Grotz's take on Kelly's day-after press conference.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Sept. 29

The Daily Numbers: 213 total yards for the Eagles offense yesterday in 26-21 loss to the 49ers.

407 yards for the 49ers.

232-73, the offensive numbers from 1st half in favor of San Fran.

119 yards rushing for Frank Gore.

2 special teams TDs, on blocked punt and punt return, how Eagles scored.

53 yard Pick-6 from safety Malcolm Jenkins.

22 yards on 12 rushes for the Eagles behind a battered offensive line.

10 rushes for 17 yars for LeSean McCoy. That is not a misprint.

21 of 43 for 195 yards for Nick Foles.

2 straight incomplete passes from Foles on 3rd and 4th downs with less than 2 minutes to go from the Niners 1-yard-line when the Birds still could have won the game.

3-1 record for the Eagles. Admit it, you’d take that before the season started.

2-2 mark for the Niners.

3-1 record for the Cowboys, now tied with Eagles atop NFC East.

1992, last time the Eagles scored twice on special teams.

9-9 mark for the Cole Hamels, who took the loss in Phillies finale.

2-1 defeat for punchless Phils.

73-89 mark for the Phillies, exactly the same as last year.

14 years, how long ago the Phillies ended up in last place.

3-1 loss for the Flyers against the Devils in preseason game.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Cary Williams is not a Philly kind of player. Very weak effort on a crucial third down that could have stopped the 49ers.

I Don’t Get It: Ed Hochuli. I don’t get it. No one pays to see him and his crew litter the field with penalty flags.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Nick Foles, who took another brutal physical beating yesterday. Quote Box: “We got whupped.”

- Eagles coach Chip Kelly on the play of his beat-up makeshift offensive line.

A frustrating Eagles loss; is there another kind?

Raise your hand if you had the Eagles flying across the country and beating the 49ers in a national TV game before the season. Thought so.

Amazingly, despite not managing to get the ball into 49ers territory until late in the 4th quarter, the Eagles had a good chance to win.

That is not a misprint. The Eagles did not get the ball across the 50-yard line on offense until the latter part of the fourth quarter.

And they still could have won.

With a beat-up offensive line that opened exactly zero holes and had trouble protecting Nick Foles.

With another brutally sub-par performance from LeSean McCoy.

With a defense that continues to have trouble getting off the field on third down.

But thanks to their brilliant special teams, which provided touchdowns on a blocked punt and a punt return, as well as a Pick-6 from Malcolm Jenkins, the Eagles were in position to pull out a most improbable fourth straight come-from-behind win.

They had the ball at the 49ers 2-yard-line with 1:50 left in the game.

The 49ers had no timeouts left and the Eagles had two plays to punch it in.

They failed to do so.

And the fault lies with Chip Kelly.

The Eagles coach is an offensive wizard - some insist on calling him genius - who for some reason struggles at the end of games.

His frenetic, hurry-up offense is ill-equipped to use the clock.

Even if the Eagles had scored in this crucial series, they still would have given the ball back to the Niners and Colin Kaepernick with plenty of time to score.

Kelly does not seem to grasp the way to bleed the clock.

That game should have ended with the Eagles running that 4th down play as the clock expired, either they win or time runs out. You don't give the ball back to the other team.

His two play-calls are suspect as well.

Instead of at a minimum running the ball on third down, then coming back with a pass on fourth down, Kelly opted to get Foles on the move and throw the ball two times.

Two incompletions later, the Birds gave the ball back to the 49ers.

Amazingly, the Eagles still managed to get the back.

The Eagles are now 3-1, but they have lots of questions.

For one, how much stock do you put in those three wins.

Are they ever going to be able to get LeSean McCoy going.

They will get Lane Johnson back starting today, but that offensive line is still bruised and battered.

Speaking of bruised and battered, how long can Foles continue to take this kind of punishment. It's a long season. And this was just one of those frustating weeks Eagles fans have gotten used to over the years.

The two people who call newspapers

I say all the time that only two people call the newspaper. I explain who they are in my print column today.

What's in a name?

I love talking about journalism, in particular the way my job is changing.

Take my word for, the changes have been seismic.

I always joke with people when I do public speaking engagements that I did not stop at a local watering hole before showing up to regale them with tales from the print world.

But I do appear to be somewhat off balance.

It is not an accident.

I spend most of my waking moments these days pulled in two different directions - producing a print edition as we have always done, and the lightning fast online world where we deliver information in real time, 24 hours a day.

I have one leg still firmly planted in the print world, and the other in the online world.

Those two worlds have some distinct differences, one of which has been the focus of considerable online debate over the past week.

I post on Twitter pretty much all day. It's one of the primary vehicles we now use to deliver breaking news and updates.

I post under the 'handle' @philheron. I find it the easiest way to make sure people know where this information is coming from.

I suppose I could have made up another handle, let's say @PrimosPhil.

If you didn't know that was me, do you think it would hold the same authority.

Twitter is full of these kinds of handles.

That's the point. They are pseudonyms. There's a very good chance you in fact do not know who is posting that information. These two worlds collided recently when I received a letter to the editor submission from a person who wanted to be known only by his Twitter handle.

In this instance, that handle is very well known. It is @FanSince09, the online sleuth who was crucial to identifying a group of people believed connected to an attack on a gay couple in Philadelphia. Several people now face charges in that case.

@FanSince09 wanted to respond to an opinion piece that was penned by Sunday columnist Christine Flowers. In it she had some pointed things to say about the push for hate-crime legislation that this case has sparked, as well as the online work that pushed the investigation into the headlines.

Our policy on letters to the editor is pretty clear. We require a name, town, and phone number for verification. The phone number is not printed. The name and town are.

I still think it's a good policy. That does not mean we do not use anonymous material elsewhere in the paper. We feature an entire column called Sound Off, that is anonymous. But they are not letter to the editor.

I would be happy to include a person's Twitter handle, and run it along with their name. But I remain unwilling to open our op-ed pages to anonymous pieces. I believe it is a recipe for disaster.

I eventually explained my decision and ran his letter in my blog.

But the debate over our policy requiring a name to have a letter published continues.

So what do the readers think?

Please feel free to weigh in with your stance. As usual, I'm willing to listen to dissenting opinions. I'm just not always willing to print them, unless you are willing to put your name beside it.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

Now comes the hard part.

The Eagles have spent the first three weeks of this NFL season allowing teams to go up on them before rallying from behind for three straight wins.

That likely won't happen this week, when the Birds face the prospect of flying across the country to tangle with an angry 49ers team that finds itself sitting at a disappointing 1-2. You just get the feeling the Niners do not want to fall to 1-3, a huge hole to dig out of to start the season.

Nick Foles likely will again spend much of the day being battered behind a makeshift offensive line that now will be without three starters.

A big dose of LeSean McCoy would certainly help, but Shady has been MIA for the start of this season as teams are game-planning to take him out of the picture. McCoy also likely is feeling the effects of teams packing the box since they don't have to be wary of DeSean Jackson as a deep threat.

The Eagles will live or die Sunday on Foles' right arm. He'll have another big day. Just not big enough. And Chip Kelly is going to have to start devising game plans that protect Foles, who took a hellacious beating all day vs. the Redskins.

This wasn't one you had in the win column before the season anyhow.

I have to go with Colin Kaepernick and the Niners in a shootout.

The Pick: Make it 49ers 33, Eagles 29. I just see the 49ers having more success against an Eagles defense that will once again be missing Mychal Kendricks than Foles and his crew have against San Fran. I could be wrong - I hope I am - but this does not look like the Birds' day. If Foles can fly across the country and lead the Birds to an upset win against an angry Niners bunch, he might finally dispel all those doubters who keep waiting for him to fall on his face.

Season Record: It's been a trifecta for the Eagles. Three straight weeks they haven fallen behind in the first half, only to come roaring back. They now sit at a lofty 3-0, while I still have a blemish at 2-1. One of us is going to fall again today. I'm going with the Niners.

Game by Game: Eagles 34, Jaguars 17 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Jags 16)

Eagles 30, Colts 27 (My Pick: Colts 29, Eagles 23)

Eagles 37, Redskins 34 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Redskins 23)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A response to columnist Christine Flowers from @FanSince09

I get accused of doing a lot of bad things here every day.

Only some of them are true.

We're in the midst of election season, so both Delaware County Republicans and Democrats are convinced that we are in bed with the enemy, plotting against them. I always figure if both sides are complaining, we probably have it just about right.

Readers call every day to complain about the way we handle stories, insisting we sensationalize the news "just so we can sell more copies of that rag of a newspaper." I should confess that now includes drawing eyeballs to our website. I also can admit there is a grain of truth to their complaint.

Officials and residents of Chester believe we never miss an opportunity to portray the struggling city in a poor light, that we never feature any of the good things happening in the city.

And some readers are even convinced stories get different treatment depending on the color of the skin of the people involved. They lament that we never miss a chance to splash a story about an African-American doing something wrong all over Page One, while we bury a similar saga about a white person. I guess they missed this week's story on the teacher at Garnet Valley Middle School charged with having sex with a 15-year-old student.

I do not, however, very often field complaints for withholding the news. Or, even worse, censoring one person's opinion over another. That's a fairly serious charge to make against someone who has made his living practicing journalism for more than three decades. In this racket, we take the Second Amendment and Freedom of the Press pretty seriously.

Every day in this newspaper, you will find opinions that I disagree with. That does not mean I do not run them. In fact, just the opposite is true. I always encourage readers who disagree with something we have written to do likewise, put their beliefs in writing, by penning a letter to the editor. They very often seem surprised that I would - 1) make the offer, and 2) actually run something critical of the newspaper or in direct opposition to a position or story we have presented.

I sometimes wonder if they ever look at our editorial pages. There every day they will find Letters to the Editor that routinely take me and this newspaper to task for something we've done.

They run beside our editorials, the unsigned collaborative work of our editorial board, which formulates the position of the newspaper on important issues.

Maybe they just call Sound Off, where we allow people to get a quick thought off their chest without attribution. These days, a lot of these people dwell on our website, DelcoTimes.com, where people can comment to their heart's content, for the most part in complete anonymity.

On Page 6 of the newspaper, we run our featured columnists, Christine Flowers and Chris Freind. I assure you I do not agree with many of the stances they take. But I never for a second consider censoring what they have to say. They have picked up the torch for the man who filled that spot for many years. I can't begin to count the number of times a conversation with longtime columnist Gil Spencer ended in a full-throated shouting match. But I never killed one of his columns. All three of these scribes fulfill the primary role of a columnist - they have something to say. I don't care if people love them or hate, so long as they read them, so long as they can't wait to get to the Wawa to pick up the Daily Times because their column is in that day's paper. I don't want readers to yawn and turn the page. They can do that when my column appears on Monday.

Last Sunday Christine Flowers wrote a column on hate-crime laws in the wake of the furor surrounding the attack on a gay couple on a Philadelphia street. Let's just say she's not a fan - of those kinds of laws, nor of anyone resorting to physical assault to settle a difference.

In the column, she also had a few things to say about the social media buzz that turned the focus of the investigation on a group believed to be connected to the attack.

Philadelphia police credited Twitter followers, in particular the work of a person going by the handle of @FanSince09, with being very helpful in their investigation. It is the way a lot of journalism is being done these days. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and a host of other social media tools are now part of the toolbox journalists turn to every day in the digital age that many of us old, ink-stained wretches now toil in. We carried several Associated Press stories detailing the investigation, which included references to the online sleuthing of @FanSince09. I have to admit I was impressed.

As it turns out, @FanSince09 wanted to reply to Flowers' column. He could have simply gone online and posted a comment on her opus. He could have ripped her anonymously in Sound Off. He didn't want to do any of those things. He wanted to write a Letter to the Editor. I had no problem with that. Right up until the point where the writer indicated he wanted his letter signed @FanSince09.

Now we have a problem.

It has long been the policy of this newspaper that we do not run anonymous letters to the editor. We require the letter writer provide us with a name, town where they live, and a phone number that we use for verification. The phone number is not printed. The name and town are - on every letter we run.

Yes, we at times will quote an anonymous source in a news story. Yes, we allow anonymous commenting online. Yes, we run anonymous items in Sound Off. No, we do not run anonymous letters, nor ones that merely carry a pseudonym.

It is a policy I firmly believe in; I have no interest in even considering the kinds of ethical problems I would face if I suddenly opened up our editorial pages to anonymous letter writers.

@FanSince09 was not especially happy with my decision. He made clear his belief that he wanted to retain his anonymity, in no small part because he feared problems with his employment, and possible retaliation given the volatile nature of the charges now filed in this case.

I have no problem with what he wanted to say. He clearly disagrees with Flowers' position. That happens pretty much every time she writes. But Christine's name is right there beside everything she pens. His would not, instead he would be veiled behind the moniker @FanSince09.

After we exchanged a few emails and Tweets, a funny thing happened. Or maybe not so funny, depending on where you stand. I became a very popular guy on Twitter. My account, @philheron, was deluged with people taking up @FanSince09's side, and castigating me at every turn. And of course, what self-righteous Twitter-verse discussion would be complete without it devolving into vulgar name-calling, almost all of it directed at me.

Get in line, Twitter folks. You have to take a number to do that around these parts.

It did do one thing. It gave me a new appreciation - if only for a brief time - of what it is like to have the Internet turn against you. It can be a fairly intimidating experience. Some supporters of @FanSince09 even resorted to calling the newsroom and ranting at whoever had the misfortune of picking up the phone.

I think I'll survive.

None of which solves my problem.

The truth is I'd like to see @FanSince09's opinion get out there. I think what he has to say can be an important part of the discussion, and enlighten some of those who are so quick to belittle what is being done on social media.

For that reason, I'm presenting it there. I realize some people will believe in doing so I am compromising my stance. I can live with that, too.

Here is the letter penned to the Daily Times by @FanSince09.

To whom it may concern:

I may not be a highfalutin' big city lawyer, but I do take exception to several of the statements that Christine Flowers made in her last column. While Ms. Flowers is certainly entitled to her conservative beliefs, she was completely off-base in her description of Philadelphia’s social media communities.

Social media has long been a scapegoat and boogeyman for those who don’t understand it. It’s something bad, or dangerous, that always wants to be starting something that ruins lives anonymously and catches innocents in a irresponsible crossfire due to social media detectives looking to serve as the police. Remember the time when names were thrown out to the public during the Boston Bombing manhunt? You are not alone. That issue is always brought up as an example of the dangers of online sleuthing. That being said, this incident was the antithesis of those off-the-wall situations. To call this issue “trial by twitter” makes me want to scream.

The social media uproar started when the Philadelphia Police Department posted an entry to their blog entitled Wanted: Suspects for Hate Crime/Assault And Robbery in the 9th District. Please notice the wording. In this call for information, the Philadelphia Police Department was the first to identify these folks as suspects and to identify the crime as a hate crime. Twitter users did not concoct this. Twitter users did not introduce this wording. This was the official wording by the police department.

What happened next was not an angry online mob seeking to punish a hate crime but a group of people feeling sympathy for the victims of a brutal attack, whether a hate crime or not, and decided to listen to their human nature and assist the police. I’d like Ms. Flowers to know that during the social media investigation that not one suspect’s name given out publicly. These suspects weren’t smooth criminals, they were clear as day in a video (please get your eyes checked, counselor) and left a trail of breadcrumbs that even Hansel and Gretel would shake their heads at, yet we wanted to be absolutely sure they were indeed the people in the video before going public with any information. When the large group picture was released, the restaurant was identified but nobody in the photo was called out, harassed or named to the media. Whether the tips we gave the PPD were the right people or not, it was kept private and handed directly to the police. If there is any collateral damage in this case, it is certainly not because of Twitter.

The reason feel I must reply to Ms. Flowers is because I am extremely proud of how calmly and professionally this situation was handled, and I feel as though we've created an example for future social media investigations. A lot of credit must go to the PPD, who did an outstanding job of keeping everyone in the loop and letting us know our information was received. Not once was there a sense that we were working our own investigation, or competition with the PD. Nobody was trying to be a hero, we were just trying to do the right thing in the right way. A vigilant citizenry willing to work with the government to solve problems is a must for all successful societies. If Ms. Flowers is to be the judge of what is American, surely she must realize there is nothing more American than cooperation between private citizens and their civil servants.

I am very proud of everyone who assisted the police, and happy that so many Philadelphians, unlike Ms. Flowers, are willing to take a stand against hatred.

- Twitter User @FanSince09.

PS: Please send all responses to @EvanMathis69

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Sept. 25

The Daily Numbers: 45 people who were honored by County Council yesterday for their efforts in the aftermath of a shooting at Mercy Fitzgerald shooting.

4 people in particular who were singled out, including Dr. Lee Silverman, who used his own gun to take down the suspected shooter. Also stressed in the efforts to disable the man were Dr. Jeffrey Dekret, and Fitz employees John D’Alonzo and Stephanie Walters.

30 minute sitdown by U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, D-1, of Philadelphia, and state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, with nurses who remain off job at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

565 Crozer nurses who will not be able to get back on the job until Friday.

5 days, the deal Crozer entered into with replacement nurses needed to staff the facility during the 2-day strike.

5 to 10 years in prison for John Gonce, who entered a guilty plea to a home invasion. He already stands convicted in a double-murder in Philadelphia.

10 percent of $250,000 bail posted by teacher at Garnet Valley Middle School who has been charged in connection with an alleged sexual incident with a 15-year-old student.

64,000 dollars, amount a Darby Borough man now stands charged with stealing from the Veterans Administration, where he worked.

7 to 23 months in prison for a homeless man convicted of setting an arson fire in a building in Concord.

1st person to be charged under new state law dealing with human trafficking, just happens to be from Upper Darby.

28 of October, when Aston plans to discuss possible expansion of the Delaware County Technical School.

1.8 million dollars in overtime costs racked up for police protection in Chester, putting strain on city budget.

20 of 27 Pa. senators who voted in favor of bill legalizing medical marijuana.

12 days, how long Eric Frein has eluded police manhunt in the Pa. woods. He’s wanted in ambush murder of Pa. state trooper.

3 suspects who have now posted bail and been released in connection with an altercation with a gay couple in Philadelphia.

154 point spike for the stock market yesterday.

3 hits for Kyle Kendrick last night as he led Phils to 2-1 win over the Marlins.

1 run on 6 hits over 7 innings for Kendrick in what may be his final start as a Phillie.

10 wins for Kendrick, the only Phillies starter to hit double digits in wins so far this year. Cole Hamels has 9.

0 fines or suspensions stemming from brawl between Eagles and Redskins Sunday after nasty hit on Birds QB Nick Foles.

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

Look for the NFL to come up with still one more new rule in the fallout from that ‘obliteration’ of Nick Foles last Sunday after an interception that turned out not be an pick. ‘Skins defensive lineman Chris Baker leveled Foles, touching off a brawl.

I Don’t Get It: Only thing that makes the end of summer even worse is a nasty, cold rain. Welcome to Thursday.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those involved in getting ‘David’s Law’ passed. It will offer immunity to those with a friend in the midst of a heroin OD, and also allow first responders to administer Narcan, which can reverse and OD. The life-saving measure, named for Delco resident David Massi II, is now on its way to Gov. Corbett’s desk.

Quote Box: “I saw a nice group of human beings who want to go back to work and take care of their patients.’

- U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, after meeting with Crozer nurses.

Bob Brady to the rescue?

Things are getting serious in the work stoppage by nurses at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

How do I know?

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady is getting involved. You can read the details here as the Democratic congressman visited nurses. He was joined by state Rep. Thadddeus Kirkland, D-159, of Chester.

Review any major labor action in the region in the past few years and examine the deal that ended them and you're likely to find a common theme.

That would be the image of the rugged, burly ex-Labor official who now represents much of the city and a sliver of Delaware County as it extends south along the Delaware River.

Nurses at Crozer walked off the job for two days Sunday morning after months of negotiations failed to produce a new contract. They say staffing at the hospital is on the critical list, a charge that Crozer denies, while pointing out that Crozer nurses are the top-paid in the region, with an average annual salary of $103,000. The nurses, by the way, dispute that figure.

As you can see, these two sides don't agree on much.

Among the things they don't see eye to eye on is when nurses could report back to work. The nurses ended their strike Tuesday morning. But Crozer pointed out that to get qualified replacements, they needed to offer a five-day deal to the outside firm. That means the union nurses at Crozer will not be able to get back to work until Friday.

They are planning another rally today.

Unless Brady can pull off a deal.

I wouldn't bet against him.

A crucial link between Widener and the Chester community

I've always been fascinated by the relationship between Widener Univesity and the city it calls home.

I wonder how much interaction the kids who go to school on that beautiful campus have with the city and its residents.

Plenty, as it turns out.

That is one of the things I learned last night when we took our 'Live From the Newsroom' live-stream Internet show back to the Widener campus. We are once again partnering with Widener and will visit one of the newer buildings on the campus. Freedom Hall just happens to be home to their Communications Departments, and features a state-of-the-art TV studio.

The idea is pretty simple. The kids get a chance to do some hands-on production work on a live show, and we get the use of equipment we could not dream of obtaining. Last night I was surprised to see that the students had created a snazzy lead-in to the show, featuring several different shots of me and our 'Live From the Newsroom' logo. Here's a tip, kids. Don't spend too much time trying to make me look good. I gave up on that a long time ago. Believe me when I say this is a face that was made for the newspaper - and which more and more is showing up online and on TV.

We also bring on guests - including students - and zero in on some aspect of Widener life or have professors talk politics or the other key issues affecting the region.

Last night we zeroed in on great program that underlines the contributions Widener makes in the Chester community.

We profiled the Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic. It's a student-run facility that offers rehab and physical therapy services to city residents who otherwise likely would not be able to afford it.

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

In the last year, the clinic saw 5,000 clients, and has seen its numbers grow consistently.

According to Jill Black, assistant professor and Pro Bono services coordinator for the Widener Institute for Physical Therapy Education, there biggest issue now is a need for space, since they've already outgrown their home in Balin Hall just a few blocks from the campus.

My thanks to the four great grad students who joined us last night and talked about their experiences at the clinic. Brian Kennedy, Nicole Nardone, Daria Porretta and Alanna DiBiassi all spoke of not only their love of the work they do, but the importance of offering a service that is clearly needed in the community.

By the way, if you are interested in using the clinic, you can get started by visiting their website here.

You can check their hours - they also are their evenings - and you can make an appointment.

Here is their mission statement: The Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic’s mission is to simultaneously improve healthcare access to physical therapy services by providing pro bono physical therapy services to the underserved and underinsured populations in the surrounding community while educating a new generation of physical therapists in the areas of competency, character, citizenship, and social responsibility. I assure you that you will be in good hands.

Literally.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Sept. 24

The Daily Numbers: 38, age of teacher and coach at Garnet Valley Middle School who faces charges of having a sexual relationship with a student.

15, age of girl police say was involved with the teacher.

10 percent of $250,000 cash bail that he failed to post. He was remanded to the county prison.

7 a.m. Tuesday, when nurses at Crozer officially ended their 2-day strike.

5 days, how long nurses actually will be off the job because Crozer committed to 5 days to bring in replacements.

678 dollars in restitution, what a Philly man was ordered to pay in connection with a series of car break-ins at local fitness centers.

1 bridge in Delaware County included in a big push by PennDOT to fix their infrastructure.

30 feet long and 30.2 feet wide, the span on Route 420 over Stoney Creek that will be repaired.

34 tons, current weight restriction on the bridge.

23, age of Springfield man who offered a guilty plea on child porn charges this week.

3 people - 2 men and 1 woman - charged in that controversial beating of a gay couple in Philadelphia. They are denying the altercation was based on sexual orientation.

1 pregnant woman and her unborn baby killed in shooting overnight in Philly. It’s the 2nd time in several days that a pregnant woman and her baby died as a result of a street shooting.

19, age of suspect who turned himself in the shooting in which a stray bullet hit and killed a 15-year-old girl in Philly.

37.8 million dollars, how much money is being spent on TV commercials by candidates seeking public office in Pa.

56,000 ads that have aired so far. Each ad is counted every time it airs.

62 million dollars raised in by Gov. Tom Corbett and Dem Tom Wolf in the governor’s race.

4 of 10 members of the Ironworkers union charged in harassment and intimidation incidents have pleaded guilty.

4 others have signed plea agreements.

3 people dead after gunman killed 2 former co-workers at a UPS plant in Alabama then turned the gun on himself.

1.4 million, how many people doctors now fear may eventually be infected with the Ebola virus.

116 point dip for the Dow Jones yesterday

2 times in 14 months that Pennsylvania’s debt rating has been downgraded.

6-8 weeks, how long Eagles will have to survive without center Jason Kelce, who underwent surgery yesterday for sports hernia.

2-0 loss for the Phillies to the Marlins.

2 runs on 7 hits surrendered by Cole Hamels.

22 consecutive starts in which Hamels has allowed 3 runs or fewer.

14 times he’s gone at least 7 innings and allowed 2 runs or less.

9-8 record for Hamels.

0 Phillies starters to hit 10 wins.

9 wins also for Kyle Kendrick.

65 years, how long it’s been since Phillies have failed to have a starter hit double digits in wins.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. At least the Eagles will not be without starting left offensive tackle Jason Peters Sunday when they tangle with the 49ers on the Left Coast. The NFL did not hand out suspensions in connection with the brawl in last Sunday’s win for the Birds.

I Don’t Get It: Still shaking my head over today’s lead story. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who will be on hand at today’s County Council meeting, where first responders and others who reacted in the aftermath of a shooting at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital. Well done.

Quote Box: “I feel sick to my stomach.”

- Girl at Garnet Valley High School, talking about sex charges lodged against a teacher, who was allegedly involved with a female student.

Some days you just shake your head

After more than 30 years in the news business, not much surprises me any more.

Until yesterday.

There has been a rash of recent incidents in the news concerning teachers and coaches facing charges for being sexually involved with students, former students and players.

Yesterday it hit in Delco. Again.

When I first heard of the charges filed against William Barber, 38, a teacher at Garnet Valley Middle School, in connection with an alleged relationship he had with a 15-year-old girl who was a student of his, I kind of expected what was going to happen next.

The story would explode, first on our website, then on social media.

As I said, that much I expected. What happened next was not.

I could not figure out why Barber's name was so familiar.

It didn't take long to find out why.

A quick search of our online archive pointed out this was not the first story we had done on Barber. In fact, back in August we had done a feature on Barber and his wife and the fundraising campaign they were promoting to raise money for pediatric cancer. Their daughter was battling cancer.

They sort of piggy-backed off the phenomenal success of the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for ALS and came up with the Lemon Shot Challenge. They would challenge people to take a shot of lemon juice and make a donation to help fight cancer.

Now Barber has another kind of fight on his hands.

I have to be honest here. My first inclination when I heard about this new twist in the story was whether that should be a part of it at all. The last thing I wanted to do was add to this family's heartache. It soon became pretty clear it would be part of the story. The school district even mentioned the fundraising efforts in their email message to the school community.

I rely on my journalist's background to remind myself that at this point these are merely allegations. Barber retains the presumption of innocence. I hope these charges aren't true. I fear otherwise.

Some days you just shake your head.

A media tour de force at Neumann, & 'Live From the Newsroom' goes back to Widener

Sometimes I wonder about the education young people are getting, in particular the next generation who will pick up this torch we call journalism.

The world they will enter as they leave college could not be more different than the one I entered as a would-be newspaperman more than three decades ago.

They will work - and live - in a digital world, where information is exchanged 24 hours a day. The will write and deliver stories in real time, mixing words, pictures and video on a variety of platforms.

The journalism world has been turned upside down in the past decade.

There's this new thing out there. It's called the Internet. Basically, it has changed everything.

It has broken the model for a print product, while throwing open the door to entirely new methods of delivering the news. For one, it has afforded me the opportunity to get neck-deep in the 24-hour news cycle. I won't sugarcoat the experience, in particular for those young people who are about to enter the workplace.

It never stops. You never get away. Our love of technology and being 'plugged-in' now follows us everywhere we go.

Some of life's most intimate moments now routinely scream from our ubiquitous cell phones.

I wonder if young people will be equipped to travel in the fast lane of this information superhighway.

Last night, I was reassured that they are in fact in good hands.

I was at a dinner hosted by the school of Communications and Media Arts at Neumann University. I have been selected to serve on an advisory board for the school. It's an honor.

The invitation was extended by my friend Karen Thomas. You would know her if you see her. Her familiar face has delivered the weather reports on several local TV stations. Karen is now a communications professor at Neumann.

She works under the auspices of Dr. Al Mueller. He's the dean of Arts and Sciences.

Then there are people like Dr. Margaret Stewart, who specializes in social media, and Sean McDonald, who runs something they called Neumann Media. It is a terrific program that gives students real experience in all faces of real media, from print to TV to online work.

They are reaching out to those working in the field to offer advice and suggestions to be sure they are on the right track as they prepare student to enter the real world. They're on the right track.

Likewise tonight I will be back on the campus of Widener University, as we kick off another year-long partnership for our live-stream Internet broadcast, 'Live From the Newsroom.'

We will do the show from Widener's sparkling new TV studio in the brand new Freedom Hall communications center.

Tonight we will show one of the ways Widener staff and students are interacting with the Chester community. Tonight we'll focus on the Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic. It is a medical facility that is run by Widener students, faculty and alumni, treating patients that otherwise might not get needed medical care.

Our guest will be Jill Black, the Pro Bono Services Coordinator for Widener's Institute for Physical Therapy Education, and faculty adviser for the clinic. I'm also hoping to have several students who man the clinic on the show as well.

They may not know it now, but these kinds of real-world experience being gained by students at Neumann and Widener are invaluable. Relax, parents. Your children are in good hands.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Sept. 23

The Daily Numbers: 2 days of strike by 550 nurses at Crozer-Chester Medical Center that is due to come to end at 7 a.m.

5 days, how long replacement nurses will be on the job at the Upland facility.

400-plus members of the Strath Haven High School Marching Band who put on the halftime show at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday for the Eagles-Redskins game.

4-0 vote by Nether Providence Zoning Board to give the OK to a new community center, despite neighbors’ concerns over traffic.

57, age of Upper Darby man who faces DUI charges after crash that left a woman seriously injured.

11 people, including a Delco woman, nabbed for welfare fraud.

1 debate now in the books that pitted Pa. Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and Dem challenger Tom Wolf. They clashed last night in Hershey.

10 days, how long a survivalist wanted in the fatal ambush shooting of a Pa. trooper has remained on the loose in the rugged northeastern Pa. terrain.

558 state bridges that will be repaired under new program being unveiled by PennDOT.

114-84 vote by which Pa. House gave OK to $2-a-pack cigarette tax in Philly. The money will go to schools. It now goes back to Senate.

40-cent hike from the current $1.60 tax. It only affects sales in the city.

83 million dollars for schools expected to be raised by the tax.

107 point slide for the stock market yesterday.

10 million new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models sold by Apple since their new gadget hit the market.

1.8 percent decline in sale of existing homes in August.

3 of 5 starting offensive linemen for Eagles now missing from lineup.

6-8 weeks, how long center Jason Kelce is expected to miss for sports hernia surgery.

5-4 win for Flyers over Caps in 1 of 2 preseason games their split squad played yesterday.

64, age of former Sixers Center Caldwell Jones, who died of a heart attack yesterday.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Leave it to Cary Williams to paint a moustache on that Mona Lisa performance put on by the Eagles Sunday in a gutty win over the Redskins. After the game, Williams complained that Chip Kelly’s grueling practice weeks are hurting the team on game day. Spare me.

I Don’t Get It: The conduct of some fans at the Linc. Video surfaced of another huge brawl among fans, some of whom no doubt had been drinking since the early a.m. hours. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Strath Haven High School Marching Band, who put on a great performance at halftime of the Eagles-Redskins game at the Linc.

Quote Box: “This two-day strike ... will turn into a five-day action because of (Crozer-Keystone President and CEO) Joan Richards’ three-day add-on.”

- Union rep Bill Cruice, on move by Crozer to hire replacements for 5 days, despite fact that nurses were willing to go back after being out 2 days.

Strath Haven High Marching Band rocks Lincoln Financial Field

The Eagles were not the only ones who were electric at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.

The Strath Haven High School Band provided the halftime show, and we hear they knocked it out of the park.

One of our former co-workers, Jacki Cashion O'Connell, a Strath Haven band alum whose daughter is now taking up the marching band tradition, shared a picture, which we used on Page 2 today. The photo should have had a credit on it. It was shot by Jim Allsman, who tweeted it on the @mntigers Twitter account.

Here's another one.

We hear they knocked it out of the park. Literally.

If someone shot video, feel free to send me a link and I will post that as well.

Kudos to all the kids in Strath Haven Band.

Gottahavva ... price hike

Just in case I wasn't depressed enough this week with the official end of summer, my friends at Wawa decided to get in on the act.

First, the jumped the gun on Fall by bringing back Pumpkin Spice coffee.

Normally, this would not bother me. I am strictly a regular coffee guy. Just sugar, thank you very much.

But my wife, a Dunkin' Donuts devotee, is a huge Pumpkin Spice Girl. And she prefers Wawa's version. Here's a hint to Wawa officials: One jug of Pumpkin Spice doesn't cut it. Apparently my wife is not alone. I have now stopped three different times and three different Wawas to get my better half her Pumpkin Spice fix, only to find an empty container.

Now Wawa is adding insult to injury.

If you have not heard, this week they rolled out a coffee price hike.

My normal 12-ounce that I pick up every day at lunch went from $1.37 to $1.44. Luckily, I'm still burning off some Wawa gift cards I got for my birthday.

The truth is they could hike the cost to $2 bucks if they so desired, and I would still trudge over to our little Primos Wawa every day. It's part of my routine. And I love their coffee.

Starbucks? Too bitter (although I am warming up to Blonde).

Dunkin' Donuts? Too sweet.

Wawa. Gotta have it every day.

Fall-ing down

I am in mourning today.

No, thankfully I did not lose a loved one.

Well, actually I did. Sort of.

Summer is over.

Today is the first day of fall.

I can almost feel the depression starting descend on my battered psyche.

I like crisp air, pumpkins and cider as much as the next person. Autumn, with its spectacular bursts of color, can be splendid in Pennsylvania.

But it's not summer. And it only portends what is to come.

Winter. Snow. Cold. Ice. Ugh!

When the time comes - and the way this racket is going it might be a lot sooner than I think! - I really only want one thing when I retire.

I never want to be cold again.

Maybe it's just as well. This summer wasn't exactly my cup of tea anyhow. It wasn't nearly hot enough.

My idea of summer is getting home, tossing on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, and plopping myself on the deck with the radio, listening to the Phillies game as the crickets serenade me.

I know, I must have some kind of serious personality disorder. I actually like humid weather. The thicker the better.

There is almost nothing in this world that compares with walking down a dewy fairway on the first hole, with the sun just barely hovering over the horizons. Maybe that's why they call us folks who like to be the first ones out on the golf course the 'Dewsweepers.' I am alone with my thoughts, far from the cell phonem, laptop and tablet that otherwise run my life.

Mother Nature even decided to double-down this year, providing a fairly chilly first day of fall. The temperature when I climbed behind the wheel this morning to make the driver in was hovering in the mid-40s. It's supposed to struggle to hit 70 today, although there will be lots of sunshine.

Guess I can put away the sunscreen. And the flip-flops. And my Phillies bucket hat, which my wife demands I plop on my head before I grab the paper and head for the deck.

My colleague, columnist Christine Flowers, is my polar opposite. Literally. She has a severe dislike for summer, and celebrates the arrival of snow, and the wish for another long, snowy winter.

Yesterday she could not resist rubbing it in just a tad.

She urged me to take heart, reminding me it was only 275 days until summer.

Thanks, Christine.

Life's a beach? If only that were so.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Sept. 22

The Daily Numbers: 3-0 mark as they become 1st team in NFL history to win 3 straight games to open season after being down by 10 points in each game.

30-27 win for the Birds in a brawl at the Linc that some are dubbing ‘Body Bag Game II” because of all the injuries.

27 of 41 for 325 yards for Eagles QB Nick Foles, who took a pounding all day and kept coming back for more.

30 of 48 for 427 yards for Redskins QB Kirk Cousins, who also threw a key pick.

5 catches for 117 yards for former Eagle DeSean Jackson, including an 81-yard TD pass.

10 catches for Eagles wideout Jeremy Maclin.

2 TD catches and 8 balls overall for Eagles rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews.

19 carries for just 22 yards for Eagles star RB LeSean McCoy.

102 yard kickoff return for a TD for Chris Polk.

34:48 time of possession for Redskins, to just 25:12 for the Birds. That was especially lopsided in the 1st half.

23 offensive plays for the Redskins before the Eagles offense got on the field for their 1st play.

7:06 amount of time Eagles had the ball on offense in the 1st half.

4 TDs in his 20 career touches for Polk after that kickoff return.

7 times the Eagles have started a season 3-0.

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

Roger Goodell should save the DVR version of this game. It’s why the NFL is insanely popular.

I Don’t Get It: A cheap shot from Redskins D-lineman Chris Baker, leveling Nick Foles after what at first appeared to be an INT. Fans might not remember that it was a play involving the Eagles and Hugh Douglas, who took out Bears QB in a playoff game, that made the NFL change the rule about hitting QBs.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Jason Peters for defending his QB when Foles got rocked. That might be the moment that solidifies this team solidly behind Foles.

Quote Box: “It was obviously dirty and that kind of charged us up a bit.”

- Eagles RB LeSean McCoy on the hit on Foles.

Some mistakes are a little more serious than others

Some mistakes are a little more egregious than others.

In my line of work, we often measure our miscues by whether they show up on the popular journalism website Romenesko. My miscue popped up there last week. It was about as bad a mistake in a headline as you can make.

I often use my print column to pull back the curtain on this great mystery we call newspapering, in particular the way technology has changed the job - and the way we deliver information.

That's what I did today.

One reader early this morning responded by saying my column confirmed something he had long suspected, no one really proofs the news anymore.

I assured him that was not the case. We do in fact still proof every page that goes into print. Do we still make mistakes and suffer the foibles of typos that make us look silly? Of course.

Working online is another animal altogether.

That was the focus of today's column.

Read it and see why some mornings I feel like I have run off and joined the Wallenda family.

Welcome to the world of Skype

Add one more way in which we are delivering information to readers.

Sunday morning I joined the new 'Fox29Weekend'show to talk about the nurses' strike that was just about one hour old.

Nurses hit the bricks at 7 a.m. to focus attention on staffing and other issues at the iconic medical facility in Upland.

I joined Fox-29 host Karen Hepp to offer some background on the key issues in the strike, as well as the hospital's plans to keep the facility open with replacement nurses.

As with almost everything I do these days, it was not without some tech gremlins. We had problems with the sound on my end. We'll have to get that fixed, because they say they want to have me on again.

Maybe they didn't see the ugly mug that was featured on that Skype screen.

Yes, I managed to prove once again this is a face that was made for the newspaper.

It's just one more facet of a business that is convulsing with change. If you had told me just a few years ago that I would be hosting a weekly live-stream Internet broadcast or that I would be appearing on-screen live on a local TV show, I would have told you that you were delusional.

But that's how fast the way we disseminate information is changing. It used to be we gave readers the information we wanted, and when we wanted to dole it out, once a day on dead trees. Yeah, I'm referring to our print edition.

We still do that.

But the readers have spoken. They now want much more say in what we deliver - and more importantly how we deliver it. They want information 24 hours a day, delivered on their phones and tablets.

That's why I was Skypeing with Fox-29 early Sunday morning.

It's a whole new world.

I can no longer hide in the relative anonymity of print.

I routinely get stopped now on the street who recognize me either from my appearances online or out in the community.

Now if I could just do something to make this old face a tad bit more presentable.

The glory of an exhilarating Sunday afternoon

There is one person - perhaps more than any other - who I hope got down on his knees last night and thanked God for the Eagles and Redskins.

His name is Roger Goodell.

You would be hard-pressed to find a business entity that has had a worse couple of weeks than the NFL empire over which Goodell reigns.

The NFL czar himself came out from his bunker Friday and faced the cameras to answer questions about the domestic abuse incidents and the league's shoddy handling of them that have left both the NFL and Goodell with a black eye.

Then the Eagles and Redskins met on Sunday on a glorious Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Forget Roger Goodell. Forget Ray Rice. Forget DeSean Jackson? Hardly. Philly fans were in full-throated frenzy as they welcomed back the controversial wide receiver who had been banished by Eagles guru Chip Kelly.

Sunday was supposed to be about DeSean's return to Philly.

It quickly moved into something else. It reminded us why - aside from gambling, of course - football is the No. 1 sport in the United States. Yes, I know that internationally soccer probably has more viewers.

For three and a half hours Sunday afternoon, the Eagles and Redskins showed us what the game was about, one group of men exerting their will against another.

For a few hours, we put aside the serious issues the league continues to face when it comes to off-the-field problems that swirl around too many players.

This was about the game.

It was about the Eagles again falling behind, being totally dominated in the first half, and yet miraculously walking off the field at halftime with a 21-20 lead.

It was about Nick Foles, who spent the bulk of the afternoon picking himself up off the Linc turf after absorbing one wicked shot after another from the Redskins, emerging as the team's rallying point and leader.

It was about Jason Peters, the team's best offensive lineman, coming to his QB's defense after a nasty shot on Foles following what at first appeared to be a Redskin interception. The Eagles may look back in a few months at the brawl that followed when Peters when after the Redskins' D-lineman Chris Baker as the moment this team united behind Foles.

Read Bob Grotz's account of the game here, and Jack McCaffery's column here. But more than that, it was simply exhilarating entertainment.

This is why we love the game. Sure, it helps that the Eagles won, their 3rd straight come-from-behind win that keeps their record a spotless 3-0.

This was football.

We've almost forgotten that over the past couple of weeks.

Goodell should send thank-you notes to the Eagles and Redskins for reminding all of us of the glory of a Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

Welcome back, DeSean. Thanks for some great memories. Now prepare for a beating.

Much of the talk this week has focused on the return of the one-time Eagles wideout and his banged-up shoulder. In reality, he’s now what the Birds should be worried about. They should be focusing on the Redskins’ battering ram running back Aldred Morris. He’s exactly the kind of back the gives Billy Davis’ defense fits. With fleet QB Robert Griffin III on the shelf again with a bum ankle, Washington will be directed by Kirk Cousins, which should translate into a huge helping of Morris.

Not helping matters will be the likely absence of stalwart inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who has not practiced this week as he nurses a sore calf. That will leave a huge hole likely to be exploited by Cousins and the ‘Skins.

On the other side of the ball, this will be a big test for Nick Foles and the Eagles’ reconstructed offensive line.

The Washington defense is stout, and specializes in putting pressure on the quarterback. The Birds should not count on another second-half miracle, a quicker start is essential. The idea is get up on the Redskins, taking the game out of Morris’ hands and putting it on Cousins’ art. Make him throw early and often, DeSean or no DeSean.

I see this one as typical NFC East nailbiter. Can you say Cody Parkey to the rescue.

The Pick: Make it Eagles 24, Redskins 23. Another crucial kick by Parkey as time expires lifts the Birds to 3-0.

Last Week: The Eagles must have been trotting into the locker room at halftime in Indy licking their chops. “We got ‘em right wear we want ‘em.” They exploded again in the second half to overtake the Colts in a 30-27 thriller.

Season Record: The Eagles have now overcome two straight double-digit deficits in the second half to come storming out of the gates at 2-0. I suffered a hiccup that looked like it was going to be on the money in the first half. I was not expecting the Birds to be able to rally, and for Andrew Luck to be outplayed in the second half by Nick Foles. I’m idling at 1-1.

Game by Game: Eagles 34, Jaguars 17 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Jags 16)

Eagles 30, Colts 27 (My Pick: Colts 29, Eagles 23)

Friday, September 19, 2014

A face made for the newspaper

This Sunday morning I will prove - once again - that this is a face made for the newspaper.

Fox-29 is kicking off a new weekend morning news show this weekend, and one of the things they are doing is having Skype interviews with news people to see what is hot on their turf. I am going to be a semi-regular contributor.

Nothing is going to be hotter in Delaware County this weekend than the strike by nurses at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. I am scheduled to be on around 8 a.m. Sunday. That will be one hour after nurses say they will walk out.

Tune in to see how I loo. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The show is called #Fox29Weekend. You know, like the Twitter hashmark. I’m so tech savvy.

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Sept. 19

The Daily Numbers: 600 nurses at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland who plan to walk off the job Sunday morning.

7 a.m., when nurses vow to hit the bricks for 2 days.

5 days, how long Crozer will have replacement nurses staffing the facility.

38, age of man returned to Upper Darby yesterday to face murder charges in the slaying of his girlfriend.

5 times Masako Griffin sought a Protection From Abuse order against De-Schae Lowry.

4 shooting incidents that rocked Chester on Wednesday.

2,873 dollars that police say a Media man bilked from a local credit union to fee his gambling habit.

5-0 vote by Folcroft Borough Council to reinstate its 1 percent earned income tax.

29, age of Andy Reid’s son Britt, who has settled a civil lawsuit with a Springfield man in connection with a road-rage incident the former Eagles coach’s son was involved in.

0 people who have been charged so far in the beating of a gay couple in Philadelphia. Several people have been interviewed by police.

1 assistant basketball coach at Archbishop Wood High School who has resigned his post, apparently because of his connection to the case.

56 million credit and debit cards exposed in security breach at Home Depot.

109 point spike for the stock market yesterday.

17,265.99 close for the Dow, another record high.

1.7 percent uptick in Americans’ net worth

7-3 loss for the Phils in San Diego last night.

5 walks for Phils starter Kyle Kendrick, who gave up 3 runs on 6 hits over 5 innings. He also hit 1 batter.

3 days of practice now missed by Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks.

0, how many games Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen likely will play this year. He’s dealing with blood clots in his leg and lung.

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

Bring on the Redskins! And DeSean. Here’s one vote that hopes the wideout is able to play on Sunday, as he deals with a banged-up shoulder. Seeing his return to the Linc would be worth the price of admission.

I Don’t Get It: Another NFL star is under arrest in a domestic violence incident. Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer is alleged to have head-butted his wife after she refused his sexual advances. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to honors for longtime Media businessman Bill Gross, who has been added to the borough’s Walk of Fame.

Quote Box: “Did the administrators put you up to saying that?”

- Dem Pa. gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf, joking with Chester kids after one youth said she was getting a good education.

'Live From the Newsroom' previews strike at Crozer

As I opened last night's 'Live From the Newsroom' live-stream broadcast, I was hoping for some glimmer of good news in the dour mood that hangs over one of the icons of Delco industry.

No such luck.

Nurses at Crozer-Chester Medical Center, upset with a lack of progress in talks for a new contract that have been ongoing since April, are planning to walk off their jobs 7 a.m. Sunday. They are vowing to stay out for two days. But the hospital is bringing in nurses to staff the facility, and say they have to enter into a deal for five days. That means Crozer's nurses are likely going to be off the job for an additional three days.

Last night I was joined by Andrew Gaffney, a staff representative for the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, the union that represents the 600 nurses at Crozer.

We also were joined by two longtime RNs from Crozer, Mary Trzeicak and Katie Eppehimer.

I was hoping to also have a representative from Crozer on the show, but the hospital declined, saying they preferred to do their talking at the bargaining table, not in the media.

That made for a somewhat one-side show. If you missed it, you can see the replay here.

I started the show by asking Gaffney for a quick update. I knew there had been several sessions with a federal mediator in the past couple of days, and that Crozer had offered the union a 'last, best offer.'

The union was not impressed. Gaffney said little progress was made and that no further talks are set. Nurses will hit the bricks Sunday morning.

There's been a lot of talk about the proper staffing in these talks. The nurses insist the hospital is dangerously under-staffed, pushing staff to the limit. But the hospital insists that's not the case, that Crozer is staffed at or above national levels. They also noted that for all the talk about staffing, most of the negotiations have centered on economic issues.

They are quick to point out that the average Crozer nurse makes $103,000 a year, and that the top earner last year checked in at a fairly healthy $167,803.

But Trzeicak said that number in itself is a sign of under-staffing at the hospital, noting the nurse who earned it "lived at the hospital." Both Trzeicak and Eppehimer said many nurses work a lot of overtime, again because of staffing issues. That's where the two sides stand.

Sunday morning Crozer's nurses will be outside carrying pickets signs, while replacement nurses will be inside doing their jobs. So much for cooler heads prevailing.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Sept. 18

The Daily Numbers: 1164, that’s the number of the Pa. Senate bill known as the Good Samaritan Bill, which was passed by the House yesterday. It will provide immunity from prosecution for some drug crimes to individuals seeking medical assistance in drug overdose cases.

174 percent increase in heroin-related deaths between 2007 and 2013.

1 assistant baskeetball coach at Archbishop Wood High School in Bucks County dismissed after he was linked to beating of gay couple in Phillly. Several former Wood students are also believed to be involved.

1 person killed in a shooting in a house in Chester last night.

3 shootings recorded in the city Wednesday.

20 percent dip in middle class for Delaware County between 1978 and 2011.

50.9 percent of Delco residents now classified as middle class.

60,482, median income in Philadelphia region, down from $62104 in 2010.

4 states that will see cuts in food stamps under new program. Those are New Jersey, Michigan, Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

19, age of volunteer firefighter John Corcoran, who faces arson charged connected to several fires in Darby Township and Folcroft.

4 guns, a bullet-proof vest and several hundred rounds of ammunition found in possession of 30-year-old man detained in Upper Darby after a standoff with police.v 1 state trooper injured in accident on I-95 yesterday.

5th day of hunt for survivalist wanted in fatal ambush of Pa. state troopers. Hundreds of law enforcement officials are involved in the search in and around the Blooming Grove barracks.

50 million dollar donation to Drexel Law School by Philly attorney Tom Kline.

24.88 increase for stock market yesterday.

17,156.85, all-time high close for the Dow Jones.

27, age of rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix, when he died on Sept. 18, 1970, in London.

5-2 win for Phillies over San Diego Padres last night.

1 run on 7 hits, with 9 strikeouts for Cole Hamels over 7 innings.

21 straight starts in which Hamels has been charged with 3 runs or less.

2 hits and 2 RBI for Ben Revere.

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

The Phillies cannot even consider trading Cole Hamels.

I Don’t Get It: A group of young people beating up two gay men. Why? I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Lynne Massi for her work in getting the Good Samaritan Bill passed in the House. It will be a lifesaver for those suffering a heroin OD.

Quote Box: “I am crying because I am overwhelmed. I am so happy.”

Lynne Massi, after learning of the bill’s passage by the House yesterday in Harrisburg.

'Live From the Newsroom' talks to Crozer nurses as strike looms

It's the biggest labor issue in Delaware County, and tonight the strike looming over Crozer-Chester Medical Center will be front and center on our live-stream Internet broadcast, 'Live From the Newsroom.'

The 600 nurses, members of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals union, has indicated they will walk off the job for two days starting Sunday morning.

The nurses have been in talks with the Crozer since April, but have failed to reach an agreement on the key issue, staffing at the facility.

PASNAP says the facility is dangerously under-staffed; Crozer vehemently disagrees. Sessions with a federal mediator this week have failed to reach an accord.

Tonight we will be joined by the head of the nurses union, as well as two nurses who actually man the sprawling medical center, one of the biggest employers in the county.

Bill Cruice, PASNAP Executive Director, will explain why the nurses will be walking off the job on Sunday morning, how long they will be out, and the company's response, which could mean nurses are actually off the job even longer. Also on hand tonight will be two Crozer RNs, Mary Trzeciak and Katie Eppehimer.

Unfortunately, our invitation to Crozer to have a spokesman join us has been declined.

If you have a question you'd like the panel to answer, email it to me at editor@delcotimes.com. Then join us tonight at 7 on DelcoTimes.com as we talk about a possible strike at one of the region's biggest medical centers.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Sept. 17

The Daily Numbers: 600 nurses who will strike against Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland on Sunday morning.

2 days, how long the nurses plan to stay out.

5 days, how long the hospital says it had to agree to in order to bring in adequate staff to run the facility. That means 3 additional days off the job for the union nurses.

400 community leaders who will be getting postcards from the union detailing their position.

2 million dollars, how much the union says Crozer will pay to bring in nurses, paying them a minimum of $55 an hour.

654, as in IBEW Local 654, which finds itself in the middle of a dustup in the 26th District state Senate race between Tom McGarrigle and John Kane.

25, age of Darby man who was acquitted of all charges connected to a shooting in which a 12-year-old girl was hit.

8,000 dollars in jewelry stolen from a store in Wilmington.

2 persons nabbed on drug charges in Upper Darby as part of an undercover police sting.

8 options being considered as Upper Darby looks to redraw its political districts.

7th grader who told authorities she was the victim of a luring in Ridley Park.

11,000 pounds of copper wire swiped from a Delaware power plant. 1 man is in custody in the heist.

31, age of Eric Frein, a survivalist with an ax to grind against cops, who is now wanted in the fatal shooting of 1 Pa. state trooper and wounding of a 2nd in an ambush attack outside their barracks.

14, age of student who police alleged was involved in a sexual relationship with a band teacher at Central Bucks High School South.

2 dollar a pack cigarette tax in Philly to help fund city schools that got OK by a House panel yesterday.

54 percent of Americans who are sporting ‘abdominal obesity, according to new study. That’ the pear shape noted by extra weight collecting around your middle.

3,000 American troops headed to Africa to help in the war against the spread of the Ebola virus.

4 patients at Children’s Hospital in Philly who have been diagnosed with the Enterovirus.

4 Atlantic City casinos that have now shut their doors. Trump Plaza closed yesterday.

100 point spike for the stock market yesterday.

17 losses for Phils starter A.J. Burnett.

5 runs on 8 hits surrendered by Burnett.

5-4 loss for the Phils last night out in San Diego.

3-1 loss for the Union to the Sounders in the Open Cup.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Darren Sproles has been the Eagles MVP through 2 games.

I Don’t Get It: A group of well-dressed Preppy types is being sought by police in the brutal attack on a gay couple in Philly.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to surveillance video. Police say their phones are ringing off the hook with tips in connection with the attack.

Quote Box: “It is neither easy nor inexpensive to find nurses willing and able to travel into different hospital under stressful conditions and provide the level of care our community expects.”

- Grant Gegwich, spokesman for Crozer-Chester Medical Center, on bringing in outside nurses to staff the hospital in the event of a strike.

The quest for fairness

I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to convince people that I - and the newspaper - really try to be fair in our coverage.

Not everyone buys it.

People charged with crimes always say we fail to get their side of the story. They insist the incident that got them in hot water - and which is almost always detailed in the affidavit police file in making an arrest - paints the situation in a false light.

Labor tiffs prove to be very difficult. I am sure the people at Crozer-Chester Medical Center think we are in bed with the union that is going to strike against them for two days on Sunday morning. They have not said much, instead preferring to do their talking at the bargaining table.

Then there's politics.

In Delaware County, there is always politics.

For as long as I can remember, the Republican Party in this county has believed we would like nothing more than to see them knocked off their lofty perch - and that we slant our coverage to do just that.

Meanwhile, we often don't make county Dems all that happy either. They believe we are beholden - if not in the pocket - of the powerful county GOP.

A lot of people in this state are watching the battle for the vacant 26th District state Senate seat created by the retirement of Republican Sen. Ted Erickson.

Aside from the governor's race (that is still a race isn't it? Someone please tell me it is since I'm on record as saying the embattled Mr. Corbett is going to win re-election) the 26th state Senate race might be the most high-profile race in the state. It's expected to set a record for spending for a state Senate race. Gee, what a surprise, in politics money talks.

On Tuesday, we ran a story on a bit of a dustup concerning a new campaign ad being aired by Republican candidate and County Council Chairman Tom McGarrigle, who is running against Democrat union leader John Kane. It features a local woman thanking McGarrigle for his work in helping save the local refinery business when it was teetering on the brink of collapse.

Full confession here: The ad features several front pages of the Daily Times proclaiming success in saving the refinery jobs.

The McGarrigle campaign issued a statement saying they believed the woman's husband was being harassed by union leaders, who are backing Kane.

That's when the serious finger-pointing began.

Kane denied any such pressure was put on Stephen Devenney for his wife's role in the McGarrigle ad.

We attempted to reach Devenney and his wife, but were unsuccessful.

It didn't take long after the story hit the street on Tuesday before I heard from Devenney. He didn't think we had been fair, that we had "jumped the gun" on the story since we hadn't talked to him and didn't have his side.

So I made the same offer I have made countless times since I assumed this job: Give me your side and I will run it.

Devenney's letter denying any harassment took place appears today.

We also followed up on the story with new comments from the two campaigns.

Yep, election season is heating up.

In Delaware County, politics is a contact sport.

I'll be the guy in the middle, trying - unsuccessfully according to my critics, to be fair to both sides.

The Eagles provide a lifeline for embattled NFL

Roger Goodell and the NFL don't have a lot to be thankful for these days.

I'd like to offer them one.

The Philadelphia Eagles.

If there was ever a sports entity in need of a good story, it would be the almighty NFL. Who would have thought it?

Then again, when you handle a situation like the Ray Rice saga as poorly as the NFL has, it's not hard to figure out.

Then late last week the Adrian Peterson story blew up, with the guy many believe is the best back in the league facing charges of child abuse for beating his young son with a tree branch. Now there are questions about the scar a second son sports on his face.

Rice, of course, was the star of a surveillance video in which he is shown delivering a wicked left jab to his then-fiancee's face, knocking her cold.

For awhile there last week, you almost forgot that this league once was about sport, and games.

With the national spotlight focusing on them on Monday Night Football, the Eagles - at least for a few hours - put the spotlight on what is going on between the lines.

The Birds and Colts put on a great show, with the Eagles rallying for the second straight week from a double-digit deficit in the second half and snagging a huge win on a last-second kick.

Now we can go back to kicking around the NFL.

This morning we get news that the Vikings have had a change of heart. After announcing that they would play Peterson this Sunday after keeping him off the field last week, they apparently have had a change of heart. They have put their star running back on the shelf indefinitely until his legal issues are resolved. He must stay away from all football activities in the interim.

Coincidentally, the move comes just hours after a huge NFL advertiser, the beer barons at Anheuser-Busch, said they were disappointed at the way the league is handling its off-the-field issues.

The Vikings also heard from one of their local advertisers, Radisson Hotels, which indicated they were pulling their support. Roger Goodell and the NFL have always operated by a standard business mandate:

Money talks.

Now they're getting a view from the flip side of that coin.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Sept. 16 (Eagles Edition)

The Daily Numbers: 152 yards on 7 catches for Darren Sproles.

26 rushing yards on 4 attempts for the running back, the Birds big off-season acquisition.

2nd straight week he sparked a 2nd half comeback win for the Birds.

2-0 record for the Eagles.

0-2 mark for the Saints, the team Sproles and safety Malcolm Jenkins played for last year.

36 yard winning field goal from Cody Parkey with just 3 ticks left on the clock to break a 27-27 tie.

2 times that Parkey had to make the kick, after the Colts called a timeout on the 1st attempt.

38 yard field goal missed by Parkey in the 1st quarter.

21 of 37 for 331 yards and 1 TD for Eagles QB Nick Foles.

13-6 halftime deficit at halftime for the Eagles, which grew to 20-6 early in the 3rd quarter.

2 rushing TDs - one for Sproles and 1 for McCoy - that brought the Eagles back.

2 key turnovers by the Colts that led to 2 Eagles TDs.

6 yard TD pass to Jeremy Maclin that tied the game at 27.

20 of 34 for 172 yards for Colts QB Andrew Luck.

169 yards on the ground piled up by the Colts.

7 teams that are now 2-0 in the NFL.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. This Eagles team doesn’t seem to get comfortable until it is behind. Can’t argue with the results. 2-0. Bring on DeSean.

I Don’t Get It: Jonathan Papelbon. I don’t get it even a little bit.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Darren Sproles. The guy has the city in the palm of his hand after 2 games.

Quote Box: “Without Sproles, we would be in some trouble, to be honest, we really would.” - Eagles star running back LeSean McCoy.

About that trooper headline

I have often said that working online is a bit like joining the Wallenda family. You remember them. They're the daredevils who walked tight-ropes across stadiums and did intricate high-wire acts.

They also often worked without a net.

I know how they feel.

The truth is in the early-morning hours, while updating our website, I'm also often working without a net.

Yesterday I fell.

Big time.

It started innocently enough. I wanted to get the latest update from the Associated Press on the tragic ambush shooting of two troopers in Blooming Grove, Pa. One trooper was killed and a second wounded by a gunman who had been lying in wait outside their barracks late Friday night.

The AP stories usually come across with a suggested hedline on them. It's not unusual for me to change the hed when I post the story on our website.

Here is the hed that AP supplied with yesterday morning's update on the trooper story:

Police: Trooper hurt in ambush conscious, talking.

There were a couple of things I wanted to add to the hedline. For one, it did not note that this was a fatal shooting, one of the troopers had in fact died. Second, it did not mention the dragnet that was out for suspects in the killing.

Unfortunately, in constructing the new hed, I made an egregious error.

Here is what appeared atop the new story on our website:

Pa. trooper killed in deadly ambush now conscious, talking; hunt for suspects pressed.

Really?

Obviously, in my zeal to note that this was a deadly ambush, I had botched the new hed, in about the worst way imaginable.

One of my favorite things about the Internet is that, with a few quick keystrokes, a mistake can be easily rectified. Voila! The hedline was fine.

Except we all know that it was not. That hedline was seen by a lot of people, many of whom emailed me to let me know about it.

I am actually glad they did. It allowed me to correct it.

It did not allow me to avoid the reaction that it sparked. And to be honest, that is not entirely a bad thing.

The hedline made its way to the Romenesko site, the popular journalism website that keeps tabs on the industry, and also occasionally displays our foibles and mistakes.

I actually posted a comment on the site shortly after it was posted. I wanted the public to know this was not a mistake by someone on my staff. It was mine.

In a perfect world, no doubt I would have taken more time to read that headline before I posted it. Or had someone else look at it before it went up on the site. I don't work in a perfect world. These days, the journalism world is far from it.

That does not excuse the fact that we displayed a particularly egregious hedline for thousands of people to see.

I was a bit taken aback by some of the comments posted online about it, as if I somehow did not realize that the hedline was wrong. It couldn't get more wrong. The trooper was dead, despite this clumsy hedline's effort to bring him back to life.

One of the themes many people noted is how the trooper's family would feel. I can only imagine. If I added at all to their grief, I sincerely apologize.

But it also struck me that it apparently did not dawn on the many people who went online to poke fun at the mistaken hed that their comments might also not be exactly respectful to the family. That's what we do these days online.

But one commenter went somewhere I had not expected. In this blog yesterday, I noted that Sunday night I had attended a viewing for a strong Irish matriarch who very much reminded me of my own mother.

A reader posted this comment on my blog: "How would you feel if you saw a hedline after your mom died saying she is conscious and talking?"

It was like a kick in the gut. But it was the truth and I told the person so in a comment of my own. I would feel awful.

We're doing a lot of things in the newspaper business that we did not used to do. Staffs are stretched thin, even as our world expands, delivering content in a 24-hour news cycle.

Speed also is part of this equation. We do everything in a hurry.

Sometimes we move too fast.

In print we get one chance to get it right. Once the newspaper comes off the press, there is nothing I can do to change that content until the next day's print edition.

The Internet allows us to correct errors in real time.

But some errors are easier to correct than others.

Lesson learned.