Friday, January 30, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Jan. 30

The Daily Numbers: 3 suspects who will go on trial starting today for the murder of Rite Aid store manager Jason McClay.

400 students who currently attend the Delaware County Intermediate Unit. That would increase to 850 under the DCIU expansion plan for their Aston campus.

45,000 dollars donated to Mother of Providence students in Wallingford by several local businesses tied to the BLOCS program.

100 supporters who turned out in Chester to hear incumbent Mayor John Linder announce his re-election campaign. He faces a challenge in the Democratic primary from longtime state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159.

23 years for the annual Philly pre-Super Bowl bacchanal, Wing Bowl.

363 wings scarfed down by last year’s winner, Molly Schuyler. She’s the only female in the contest this year.

1.8 million dollars made from illegal pill mill operation by a Philly doctor, according to federal charges.

62-36 vote by which the Senate OK’d the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

2 dead in massive gas blast that rocked a hospital in Mexico.

225.48 point boost for the Dow Jones yesterday.

81, age of ‘60s poet Rod McKuen, who died yesterday.

5-2 win for the Flyers over the Jets.

3 straight wins for the Orange & Black.

1,000 points in her career for Maddie Thornton of Chichester. Kudos to her!

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

Who needs the Super Bowl when you have Wing Bowl?

I Don’t Get It: Maybe it’s me, but I liked Wing Bowl more without all the strippers.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to those local businesses who stepped up with $45,000 in donations to Mother of Providence School in Wallingford as part of the BLOCS progam. It’s all part of Catholic Schools Week.

Quote Box: “The people endorsed me when they pushed that button three years ago. The people spoke about politics in this city when they voted for me.”

- Chester Mayor John Linder, announcing his re-election campaign.

Another Wing-Ding in South Philly

It is Philadelphia's day in the national limelight.

No, we did not make the Super Bowl. Again. The Eagles fell woefully short, inflicting more pain on their long-suffering fans with an epic late-season collapse that kept them out of the playoffs.

To salve our wounds, today the city once again will embrace a local tradition that focuses on two things:

Wings and Breasts.

Yes, it is time once again for Wing Bowl.

The wildly successful promotion dreamed up by Al Morganti and the rest of the gang from SportsRadio 94-WIP will once again see 20,000 people pack the Wells Fargo Center to see a lot of fat guys wolf down wings, while a bunch of scantily-clad women cheer them on. All of this while one diminutive woman tries to defend her crown, which she captured last year while inhaling more than 300 wings.

Is this a great country or what?

It's hard to believe that the little shindig that started in the lobby of the Wyndham Franklin Plaza has morphed into this monster production.

A lot of people try to pick a fight with Wing Bowl. I'm not going to say they're wrong.

I guess, like the Mummers, it is something of an acquired taste.

But it has become something distinctively Philly. Right there with cheese steaks and Tastykakes.

Let the eating begin.

CLICK HERE for live coverage and photos.

Your early morning roads report

I was a little worried as I drove home last night, making my way through a fairly persistent light snow.

My thoughts turned to the roads this morning.

Not to worry. Yes, there was a coating of snow on the walk and the driveway. But the windshield was fine. That's because it seemed to warm up overnight.

Take it from someone who has just made the commute. It's smooth sailing. It even feels a little warmer.

All the roads I used were just wet. I did not encounter any ice or slick spots.

That said, it is apparently going to get serious cold later today and into tomorrow.

We're talking about overnight temperatures in the single digits Saturday morning.

Then we can start talking about the next storm, which is due in Sunday night into Monday morning.

Could make for an even more adventurous drive home from all those Super Bowl parties.

But for your Friday morning commute, there does not appear to be any problems.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Jan. 29

The Daily Numbers: 3 candidates now in the race for Chester mayor. 2 Democrats, incumbent Mayor John Linder and challenger state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland will duke it out for the right to face former Republican Mayor Wendell Butler.

200 instruments donated to Upper Darby High School by Paul Nemeth.

300 more given to William Penn School District by the music lover.

57th annual Grammy Awards, which will feature the work of Upper Darby High sax man Immanuel Wilkins.

1 man shot in leg during drug deal gone sour, police said.

2 people killed in fire in South Philly row home early this morning.

3.57 percent tax hike hanging over Haverford School District home owners.

163 bucks a year, what the increase would be on the average property assessed at $160,000.

500 dollar check delivered to students at Chestnutwold School in Haverford by former Gov. Ed Rendell.

2 people being sought for a series of break-ins of cars in the parking lot of the Planet Fitness on MacDade Boulevard in Ridley.

10,000 dollars believed stolen from Girl Scouts by a former troop leader in Lansdale.

124 jobs being lost with closure of Stroehman Bakery plant in Montco.

31, age of woman who admitted having sex with one of her students in Montco.

4.1 percent dip in sales at McDonald’s last year, leading to the exit of the company CEO yesterday.

8 year backlog for 5,400 planes at Boeing worth $440 billion.

19 percent boost in profits for the airplane maker in 4th quarter.

195 point dip for the Dow as stocks slipped for 2nd straight day.

89-69 win for the Sixers over the Pistons. Didn’t know this team could beat anyone by 20 points.

51-48 win for Academy Park over Chester in boys hoops last night. A stunner.

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

David Montgomery is back, but make no mistake. He’s no longer running things. The team yesterday took the interim tag off Pat Gillick. He will be team president and in charge of baseball operations.

I Don’t Get It: A Girl Scout leader in Montgomery County is charged with stealing $10,000 from the troop. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Upper Darby High seniorImmanuel Wilkins. The saxophonist will perform at this year’s Grammy Awards. And also to Paul Nemeth, who has bought and donated hundreds of musical instruments to the school.

Quote Box: “I’m getting complaints about this government from people who feel it isn’t working.”

- Wendell Butler, who will seek election to his old seat as Chester mayor on the GOP ticket.

Chester politics heats up

Since I had Chester Mayor John Linder as a guest on our 'Live From the Newsroom' show last night, I could not resist asking him one final questions at the end of the show - not related to our primary topic of the new surveillance cameras the city will be rolling out to fight crime.

This one involves another fight the mayor is smack in the middle of - that would be the fight for his political life. If you have not noticed, there has been some political thunderbolts in the city.

First, longtime state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159., announced last weekend that he would challenge Linder in the Democratic primary. Not only that, but he has the backing of the Chester Democratic Party.

The next day things got even a little more challenging for Linder when county Democratic Party boss David Landau said the party would support the choice of the city committee - that would be Kirkland. Usually party bosses try to stay out of it when a primary battle is shaping up, waiting for a victor to emerge and then assuring the party would united behind the winner. Not so this time. Landau left little doubt they believe Kirkland is their man.

Then yesterday another very familiar name popped up in the race. Whoever wins the Linder vs. Kirkland battle royal will then get to square off against former Mayor Wendell Butler in the general election in the fall. He emerged from a very short retirement to become the Republican candidate in the city mayor's race yesterday.

I asked Linder if he was surprised by the challenge from Kirkland. Hardly.

Linder also downplayed the move by the city party to bail on him - the incumbent mayor - in favor of Kirkland. He said that he did not necessarily run as a Democrat or Republican, but rather as an independent who represents everyone in the city.

Buckle your seat belt. This one is going to be a barn burner.

Candid Cameras: 'Live From Newsroom' talks about Chester's new crime-fighting tool

The city of Chester is getting ready to roll out a powerful new weapon in their continuing war on the scourge of gun violence that continues to plague the city.

The city soon will feature hundreds of surveillance video cameras as part of a combined effort by the city, PennDOT, Widener University and the Riverfront Alliance of Delaware County.

Last night we took our live-stream Internet program, 'Live From the Newsroom,' to Widener to talk about crime in the city, and their new tool.

I was joined by Chester Mayor John Linder; Chester Police Commissioner Joseph Bail Jr.; Widener Public Relations maven Dan Hanson Sullivan; and Michael McGee, Executive Director of the Riverfront Alliance of Delaware County.

One of the most interesting things that was stressed was brought up by Commissioner Bail. He noted that a camera can't be intimidated, as many witnesses are. It's one of the great frustrations echoed again and again by police in their investigations - people who are afraid to tell them what they know, or are leery of actually having to testify against suspects.

Cameras don't have any such reservations.

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

Again my thanks to Tim Scepansky and all his great students who work behind the scenes to make the show look great.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Jan. 28

The Daily Numbers: 1.2 inches of snow recorded in Philadelphia.

12-16 inches, what was forecast for the region.

30-60 miles east, how far the storm veered, sparing us a big snow storm

9.8 inches of snow in Central Park in New York City.

20-30 inches, what was forecast for Big Apple

12 inches in Manasquan, N.J.

34 inches in Littleton, Mass.

33.5 inches in Thompson, Conn.

70 mph winds howling as blizzard conditions slammed Boston.

40 to 50 feet of seawall knocked out by the storm in Marshfield, Mass.

2 deaths, both on Long Island, blamed on the storm.

200 million dollar economic hit believed taken by New York City in the wake of shutdowns before the non-storm.

2 people charged in series of home break-ins in Drexel Hill.

200 people, many of them senior citizens, who packed Garnet Valley School Board meeting last night urging them to hold line on taxes.

8-1 vote by the board to reserve the right to hike taxes above the state-mandated index of 1.9 percent.

3.6 percent tax hike in proposed budget of Upper Darby schools.

125 bucks more for the average tax tab, which now stands at $3,459.

6-23 months in prison for a Middletown man for unlawful sexual contact with a minor.

3 people going on trial in slaying of Rite Aid store manager Jason McClay.

140,000 Pennsylvanians who enrolled in federal health insurance marketplace for 2015.

3 people hurt when part of the roof of the Lululemon store collapsed in Center City Philadelphia.

291 point dip for the Dow Jones yesterday, after being down at one point 390 points.

4-3 shootout win for Flyers over Arizona Coyotes.

2nd shootout win for Flyers, who are now 2-5 in shootouts for the year.

22 saves for Steve Mason in relief of Ray Emery.

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

If there is any justice, Marshawn Lynch will be named Super Bowl MVP - and promptly be ignored by the media.

I Don’t Get It: Forget the snow, it is seriously cold out there this morning.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Gary Szatkowski, the National Weather Service meteorologist who took to social media and offered his apology for the blown forecast.

Quote Box: “Given the uncertainties and the tens of million of people affected, this was the right forecast to make.”

- NWS Director Louis I. Uccellini.

'Live From the Newsroom' tackles violence in Chester

There's a sad bit of irony connected to tonight's 'Live From the Newsroom' show. We'll back on the campus of Widener University to talk about safety in the city of Chester, in particular a new program aimed at greatly increasing the number of surveillance cameras in two crime-ridden neighborhoods in the city.

A couple of weeks ago Rite Aid Corp. teamed with the city, Widener University and the Riverfront Alliance of Delaware County, putting up $10,000 toward the program.

Rite Aid knows a bit about the high cost of violence in Chester. One of their store managers, Jason Scott McClay, was gunned down during a holdup attempt in their store at Ninth and Highland in 2013.

Ironically, today testimony is expected to start in the trial of three people charged in his murder.

Joining me tonight for this special show will be Chester Mayor John Linder; Chester Police Commissioner Joseph Bail Jr.; Widener Campus Safety Director Pat Sullivan; and Michael McGee, Executive Director of the Riverfront Alliance of Delaware County.

We'll discuss both the push for surveillance cameras and other actions aimed at increasing safety in the city.

Last year, 30 people were slain on the streets of Chester. It was part of a record year for homicides in Delaware County, which recorded 49 murders.

If you have a question you'd like to ask our panel, email it to me at Then tune in tonight at 7 at for a special look at violence in Chester and what the city is doing to attack the problem.

By the way, the city already has recorded three homicides in 2015.

An early misstep from Gov. Tom Wolf

Tom Wolf strode to office as an "unconventional leader," and vowing to change the atmosphere in Harrisburg and get state government working again.

But one of his first acts as governor smacks of "more of the same" old-style political bickering that has dominated the capital for decades.

It's the focus of today's editorial.

All weather, all the time

I think I now understand why the local TV stations spend so much time on the weather.

Do you know anyone who wasn't talking about it yesterday?

Specifically, what they were wondering was what happened to all that snow and blizzard-like conditions that were being predicted for the region.

There was a blizzard alright, just not here.

What most forecasters were saying was going to be 6-10 inches of snow in the Philadelphia region never developed. The official snow total for Philly? A puny 1.2 inches was the official measurement for Philadelphia.

Massachusetts? Well, that's another matter. Framingham, Mass., got walloped with 33.5 inches, sparking memories of the great blizzard of 1996 that buried the Philly region with 30 inches of snow.

But as soon as it became clear that we were going to dodge a bullet, the finger-pointing started. And all those fingers wagging were pointed for the most part at our local TV weather folks.

TV makes a very big deal out of the weather in these parts. It's been a pet peeve of mine for years. But it's not going to change. Why? It is the single item that affects everyone every day.

That's why USA Today revolutionized the weather package that appears in newspapers years ago when they rolled out their full-page, full color weather page.

My wife still loves that page. Every time I bring one home, she checks out the temperatures in warm-weather places like Arizona and California.

My problem, as I've been stating now for years, is that there is an economic angle to all this hyperventilating about the weather.

How do you think the restaurant or bar owner - people who are dependent on people getting out and about, most likely in their cars - feel when all they hear on TV all day is TV folks telling people, "If you don't have to go out, don't."

Lots of small businesses in Philly took a big hit Tuesday when the city basically shut down, despite the lack of snow. All public and parochial schools were closed. Non-essential city workers got a day off.

Farther to the north, while they did get some snow, New York City was not paralyzed, and the decision to basically shut the city down was being widely criticized.

I've often wondered if there is a price tag that can be put on these doom and gloom forecasts.

One expert said yesterday's precautions in the Big Apple add up to a $200 million economic hit.

I don't expect much to change when it comes to the way local TV stations handle the weather. This despite the statement yesterday by the head of the National Weather Service that they will review their procedures in light of the missed forecast, in particular when it comes to getting word out quicker when it becomes clear that those forecasts are off the mark.

Most of the TV folks spent much of the day yesterday explaining what happened, how the system veered to the north and east, effectively missing Philadelphia and the suburbs.

But I was most impressed by someone who never shows up on TV. And whose name is not nearly as familiar as those who constantly regale us with their "double-scar radar," or First Alert forecasts.

Gary Szatkowski is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in South Jersey. He went on Twitter when it became clear that the forecast was a huge miss and basically fell on his sword. "There is a big storm further off to our northeast," Szatkowski Tweeted late Monday night. New York City will see good amounts of snow, and for portions of New England it will be very high impact. But for much of New Jersey, and for thed Philadelphia Metropolitan area, this is a big forecast miss.

"You made a lot of touch decisions expecting us to get it right, and we didn't. Once again, I'm sorry. My deepest apologies to many key decision makers and so many members of the general public."

Class act, Gary.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Jan. 27

The Daily Numbers: 11 Delaware County school districts that are closed today.

4 districts opening on 2-hour delay.

10 a.m., when the courthouse will open in Media.

2-4 inches of snow in the Philly area, not the 8-16 inches that was feared in the buildup to the storm.

7,700 flights cancelled Monday and Tuesday across the Northeast.

400 flights in and out of Philly International scrapped.

0 trains running by Amtrak north of New York City.

10-20 inches of snow expected in New York City.

2 feet of snow in Boston.

2 parents of baby mauled by pet ferrets now face charges in Darby Borough incident.

58, age of accountant for the Nifty Fifty’s restaurant chain who pleaded guilty in federal court to tax scheme charges yesterday.

15 million dollars in receipts, how much the group failed to pay taxes on, according to the feds.

2 delays so far for the update on the Granite Run Mall plans. Township council now will get it on Feb. 9.

4 people hurt yesterday morning when a car slammed into a snow plow in Haverford.

1-3 years tacked on to sentence of Ernest Marks, charged in the fatal hit-run that killed a man and his dog on Providence Road in Upper Darby.

44, age of Aston man charged in a dozen instances of trying to lure a 15-year-old boy into a sexual encounter.

26, age of man fatally shot during altercation in Chester Sunday night.

29, age of gas station attendant shot in hand in Chester.

5.75 million dollar cap hit for former Flyer Mike Richards, which likely will prevent his return after he was released by the L.A. Kings.

8 game suspension for Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo for hit on Penguins Kris Letang.

99-74 loss for the Sixers to the New Orleans Pelicans last night.

32 points for Anthony Davis in leading New Orleans.

6 straight losses for the Sixers.

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

Patriots owner Robert Kraft wants an apology for what his team has been put through in ‘Deflate-Gate.’ Right after he apologizes to Eagles fans for Spy Gate.

I Don’t Get It: The weather. I don’t get it. Not sure if Deflate-Gate refers to the Patriots’ footballs or the snow totals.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Gary Szatkowski. He’s a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in South Jersey. He’s been all over social media apologizing for the blown forecast this morning.

Quote Box: “This is a big storm further off to our northeast. ... But for much of New Jersey and for the Philadelphia Metropolitan area, this is a big forecast miss.”

- NWS meteorologist Gary Szatkowski.

Snow Job: Your early Tuesday morning roads report

I think this is what they refer to as "dodging the bullet."

I don't know how else to explain what happened over the past 24 hours.

That would be my explanation. But hey, I'm not meteorologist, or a weather forecaster. I don't even play one on TV. I limit myself to the pages of the newspaper.

They call that spin. We're going to be hearing a lot of it today.

In other words, we did not get "Snowmageddon," or "Snowpocalypse."

Actually, in some places, we only got a dusting.

When I first woke up and peered out the bedroom window early this morning, I thought I was delusional, actually not an unusual state for me at that hour. I always check the windshield of the car. It looked pretty much the way I left it when I pulled in the night before.

When I got out to the car, I noticed the exact same tire tracks as when I pulled into the driveway. I didn't even have to brush off the car.

In terms of the commute, again no problems.

There was the same dusting of snow in my development, but the main roads were really just wet.

It was not snowing at all until I got closer to Delaware County.

West Chester Pike: No problem.

Usually when there is bad weather, I alter my morning route. I don't normally feel like tangling with Providence Road from Route 3 over to the West Chester Bypass, instead taking the Pike all the way to Sproul Road and then cutting across that way. But this morning since I wasn't seeing much in the way of snow, I decided to stick with the usual route. Again no problem.

I finally saw a dusting of snow when I got to Rose Tree Park.

The Route 1 Bypass was just wet.

Springfield Road in Springfield had a light covering of snow, but even that disappeared as I got closer to Bishop Avenue. Of course the most snow I saw the entire drive was on Cottonwood Lane, the tiny street that runs next to the Wawa from Oak Avenue back to the Daily Times offices.

So what happened? That's a good question.

Look, I don't live in central or north Jersey. Nor do I reside in New York City or Boston.

I'm not sure when exactly the Philadelphia suburbs expanded to Allentown and the Poconos.

The bottom line, I guess, is that forecasting is a very inexact science.

We clearly didn't get the snow that was forecast.

Most forecasts were calling for anywhere from 6-10 inches for the Philadelphia area, with areas farther east and north getting more snow.

But I did not expect not getting any new snow overnight.

That didn't stop all public and parochial schools from shutting down in Philadelphia. They made that decision yesterday.

I guess I should be glad we didn't get that much snow. For some reason I'm not.

I still hate winter. And the forecasts that go with it.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Jan. 26 (Storm Edition)

The Daily Numbers: 2 storms that are bearing down on the region.

1-3 inches of snow early today in Round 1 of this storm.

6-10 inches tonight into tomorrow. But keep in mind the track of this storm is not set yet. Could be more or less.

14 to 24 inches of snow for some regions north and east of Philly. New York and Boston could get hammered.

35 mph winds needed for blizzard conditions, which are being forecast for parts of central and northern New Jersey up to New York.

36 hours, how long this storm could last in some areas.

1,700 flights expected to be cancelled today.

1 to 2 feet of snow in New York City.

25 to 30 inches of snow predicted for Hartford, Conn.

75 mph winds for areas around Boston.

100 percent chance of snow, according to National Weather Service.

1-3 inches this morning for us, then another 3-7 inches tonight into tomorrow, according to the NWS.

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

I like to torture myself at this time of year by watching golf on TV. Yes, it is actually green and warm in some places.

I Don’t Get It: I’d still like to know how restaurant owners feel about those calls to stay off the roads. I’m sure they’re thrilled.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to those who will be manning the plows. They’re looking at a very busy 24-hour stretch.

Quote Box: “This could be a storm the likes of which we have never seen before.”

- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, on the approaching storm.

Your Monday morning roads report

Well, I guess there's no way around it. We're going to be talking a lot about the weather the next 48 hours.

For now, however, I can report that there is no problem on the roads. Here in Delaware County, it has not even started snowing yet.

There is a coating of snow farther west, in Chester and western Montgomery County.

But the bottom line is that your morning commute should not be affected. I cruised in without any problems. Some roads in my neighborhood had a dusting of snow, but as soon as I got out to the main roads, they were just wet. And no, despite what you're hearing on TV and radio, I did not hit any 'slick' spots, let alone anything that approached the single word we likely will hear more than any other the next few days. That, of course, would be 'treacherous.'

This storm is going to be something of a 1-2 punch.

The first hit today is a Clipper that is coming from the west. That is why Chesco and parts west have seen snow first. We're looking at not much in the way of snow this morning, maybe 1-3 inches. Later on today and into tomorrow is when things get a bit more dicey. That's because this Clipper is going to run into another storm off the coast. This is more of the classic Nor'easter that has a tendency to pound the area.

But keep in mind one thing. This storm will be the opposite of what happens this morning. In other words, the farther east you are, the more snow you are likely to see.

The shore areas will be pounded.

Areas in central and northern Jersey will get hit hard. New York and New England may well get buried.

But what is going to happen here in Delaware County?

Well, we're going to get some snow, but how much is anyone's guess. Sounds like we could be in line for maybe 6 inches of snow or more.

Now let me talk about TV, specifically what they are doing with this storm.

I don't doubt that there is going to be some blizzard conditions - just not here in Philadelphia and the suburbs. The bulk of this storm is east, in shore areas and farther north.

I can't control what they do, but I keep saying this. These forecasts have an economic impact on the region and there is without question fallout.

How would you like to own a restaurant or nightspot and hear nothing all day Friday and Saturday how you should try to make it an early night? And how much snow did we actually get? Not much more than a dusting.

I've about given up on this argument.

They're not going to change the way they report the weather.

Especially not today. It will be all hype all the time.

Here is what Accu-Weather is saying about the storm.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Jan. 23

The Daily Numbers: 125 members of the Rose Tree Media Education Association who picketed yesterday outside the Media Courthouse in their pursuit of a new contract.

2 year contract freeze agreed to by the union in their last deal, which expired last June.

42 years after Roe v. Wade, marchers again took to Washington, D.C., yesterday to protest the ruling in the annual March for Life.

200 Delaware County residents who made the trek to take part in the rally.

76, age of Marple resident Harold Sampson, who will celebrate his birthday today by walking to the 76ers game from his home.

19-38 months in prison for Philly man who robbed an Upper Darby bank to fund his lottery ticket addiction.

1-3 inches of snow expected tonight into Saturday before it all changes over to rain. Sounds like a mess.

1 person killed when he was struck by 4 cars as he tried to cross I-495 in Delaware last night. None of the drivers stopped.

46 million dollar bailout for the casinos in Delaware given the initial OK yesterday.

20 million dollars believed scammed by a prominent Bucks County family, according to charges filed yesterday.

3 fires in 5 years at their estate that authorities allege were intentionally set.

1.2 million dollars claimed for the loss of drapes in the fire.

2.8 million spent on 6 Ferraris, 2 Rolls-Royces and 4 other cars.

47-46 win for Penn Wood over Chester High last night.

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

Some people wouldn’t go to a Sixers game if you gave them tickets. Harold Sampson plans to walk from his Marple home to the Wells Fargo Center to celebrate his 76th birthday. Gotta love that!

I Don’t Get It: So much for an end to partisan politics in Harrisburg. New Gov. Tom Wolf yesterday axed the last-minute appointments put in place by Tom Corbett, including Erik Arneson as the state’s chief open records official.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Harold Sampson. You’re the man, pal.

Quote Box: “The honeymoon is over. He is not off to a flying start for someone who said he was going to do things differently.”

- State Sen. Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, of Gov. Wolf’s actions.

Just call him Mr. 76-er

This is without question my favorite story of the day.

Meet Harold Sampson.

The Marple man turns 76 today. He also just happens to be a lifelong 76ers fans.

So to celebrate the occasion, the spry septuagenarian will walk from his Marple home to the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly for tonight’s Sixers match vs. the Toronto Raptors. He also will be honored by the team during the game.

You're the man, Harold!

In praise of Cecily Tynan

I think it's fair to say I'm not a big fan of the way local TV handles the weather.

About the only thing left for them to do is link Tom Brady and Bill Belichick to our next winter storm.

Speaking of which, all that "double-scan," Doppler and First Alert technology tells us that a messy mix of winter weather is going to arrive tonight and strech into Saturday.

So expect non-stop hyperventilating on the local stations today. There will be no news. There will only be weather.

That's why I was a bit taken aback by something that happened yesterday.

Look, I am more than willing to rip the TV forecasters most days, so today I have to be fair and praise one of them. I'm speaking of Cecily Tynan, the lead meteorologist on 6-ABC.

Tynan went out of her way yesterday to point out this was NOT going to be a major snowstorm. She was on social media telling people that if they wanted to see lots of snow, they were going to be disappointed in this storm.

Here are some of her Tweets:

"If you are hoping for a big snowstorm then Saturday's nor'easter is not the answer. Best bet for Philly Metro, 1"-3"."


"You will need to be in the Lehigh Valley to see all snow on Saturday. I-95 will quickly transition to rain. #6abcSnow."

Bravo, Cecily!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Daily Numbers for Thursday, Jan. 22

The Daily Numbers: 22 people charged in statewide oxycodone drug ring that law enforcement officials said used bogus prescriptions to get the powerful painkillers.

2 of those from Delaware County, including the suspected ringleader, who is from Upper Chi.

59,000 oxycodone pills gotten by the ring through the bogus prescriptions, cops say.

1.9 million dollar profit for the drug ring.

1-3 inches of snow that for the most part failed to show up yesterday afternoon, despite all those dire forecasts.

14 overdose deaths in the county that have been prevented by police administering the drug Narcan, according to D.A. Jack Whelan.

7 weeks since David’s Law went into effect, allowing the drug to be administered by cops.

37 months in prison for Delco defense contractor Kenneth Narzikul.

1.2 million dollars, how much the government believes they were cheated out of by the businessman.

36, age of Radnor Officer James Gallagher, who is being credited with saving the life of a baby during that deadly icy crash on the Blue Route Sunday morning.

5 counts on which former popular TV sports guy Don Tollefson was convicted of in Bucks County yesterday.

350,000 dollars cash bail, actually $35,000 (10 percent) in cash, what Tolly needs to get out of the slammer.

37 years in prison, maximum sentence he faces.

6-8 months in prison, the plea deal that he turned down before deciding to go to trial.

27 points for Carmelo Anthony to lead the Knicks over the 76ers in a clash of the Titans at the Wells Fargo Center last night.

16-game losing streak snapped by the New Yorkers the night before.

2-game winning streak for the Knicks.

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

The worst team in the NBA showed up at the Wells Fargo Center last night. And won. Thanks, Sixers.

I Don’t Get It: Bill Belichick. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Radnor Officer James Gallagher, who is being credited with saving the life of a baby during that deadly crash on an icy Blue Route Sunday morning.

Quote Box: “In the seven weeks since police in Delaware County have been equipped with Naloxone, or Narcan, 14 overdose victims have been revived.”

- Delco D.A. Jack Whelan, on use of Narcan.

A not-so-Super start to the party, courtesy of Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have done something I did not think was possible.

They've put an ugly splotch on one of the truly great sports days of the year.

Super Sunday is more than a football game. It now borders on a national holiday, with friends, family and others wolfing down insane amounts of food and drink in all manner of settings, all focused on the two best teams in the NFL facing off in the league's championship game.

Sure, the game itself often is less than 'super.' And there is something that has always been somewhat haughty in that name. But for many fans, it's never really been about the game. It's been about the party.

Now, thanks to the Patriots, it's no longer game. Or the party. It's about them, and what lengths they will go to win.

The Patriots are being investigated by the league for allegations that they used balls that were intentionally under-inflated in their lopsided win over the Colts in the AFC Championship game.

The belief is that a ball will less air in it is easier to handle, in other words throw and catch.

It likely had little or no effect on the 45-7 whipping the Pats laid on Andrew Luck and the Colts.

That's not the point.

This is not Belichick's first waltz down this path. In 2007, he was fined $500,000 and the team fined $250,000 and stripped of a first-round draft pick after they were caught taping the Jets signals during a game.

It got a lot of people - and a lot of Eagles fans still nursing the wounds of a Super Bowl loss to the Patriots - to wonder if things were always on the up and up.

It's hard to tell with Belichick, such is his zeal for pushing the rules to the edge. For years he would play fast and loose with the mandated league injury reports, often listing QB Tom Brady as 'probable.' He routinely signs players who are cut by teams he will face. So far, neither Belichick nor the Patriots have commented on the latest scandal. The coach is expected to meet the media today.

I certainly do not expect anyone to be suspended for the Super Bowl over this kerfuffle. The Seahawks certainly don't want to possibly see their push for a second straight Super Bowl crown tainted by playing a team not at their best.

Next year? Who knows, maybe a fine or a suspension.

I don't expect Belichick to change. That arrogance is part of what makes him the best coach in the NFL. But you have to wonder how long the league will allow him to bend the rules to his advantage. Especially when it starts to stain their premier event.

There is one other thing Belichick has done this week that I didn't think was possible. I've never much liked the Seahawks and their brash, trash-talking way of doing things.

Belichick just made me their biggest fan.

Another snow job

Do not turn on your TV. Ignore the radio.

Here is everything you will need to know about your morning commute. Don't forget to brush off your car windows.

In other words, all that talk about yesterday's snow storm and the possibility of 1-3 inches of flakes? Forget it. Didn't happen. At least not around here.

Of course, that did not stop lots of local schools from letting out two hours early, and the general panic that sets in every time someone mentions the dreaded four-letter winter word that starts with an s, not an f.

I did encounter a bit of snow on my own street in my development. And there was one side road that had a bit of mush on it. But once out on the main roads, all I saw was some wet surfaces. And even though temperatures were below freezing, I did not encounter any ice or even any slick spots.

That isn't going to change the way the local media handles the weather. The threat of snow will provoke non-stop hyperventilating by our friends on TV. Yesterday, on the noon and 4 o'clock broadcasts, there was no news. There was only weather.

Correspondents were dispatched near and far in an attempt to detail how bad it was. The problem was that all of them were standing next to roads that were only wet, not snow-covered. So most of them simply improvised and showed the light snow that had covered the grass, and also talked to people about how they were preparing for the 'storm.'

Not sure you need double-screen radar for that, but what do I know?

There is something else at work here. I think a part of this is a reaction to the missed forecast on Sunday morning, when what was expected to be a daylong rain showed up earlier than expected, along with temperatures that were colder than expected. The combination turned roads into ice rinks and resulted in several deadly crashes.

Here is what I know. Today is Jan. 22, the dead of winter. It is cold around here in the winter. And it snows from time to time. That is not necessarily news. But it will not stop our fascination with weather.

Oh, and one other thing. They are now calling for another storm, packing rain and snow, for Saturday.

Stay tuned.

Here's the latest forecast.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Jan. 21

The Daily Numbers: 4, age of Brookhaven boy whose specialized, motorized wheelchair was stolen from the driveway of his home. Police have a suspect. Just heartless.

47th governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf.

6th State of Union Address offered by President Barack Obama.

220 pounds of pot that police say was distributed by a Villanova man as part of a marijuana empire.

5 years and 3 months in the slammer for Ronald Belciano in connection with the drug charges.

5 counties, including Delco, where police say 2 brothers from Gilbertsville pulled off a series of sewer grate thefts. They were selling them for scrap.

29, age of Delaware mom who police say left her baby in a cab while she went inside to hold up a convenience store.

3 men who face heroin sales charges in Upper Darby.

2 men arrested following a police chase through Aldan and Collingdale.

30 foot long Stoney Creek Bridge on Kedron Avenue that will be rebuilt.

3 years probation for a former Lafayette College student tied to Main Line preppy pot ring.

24 townhomes on a former cemetery property that got the OK in Upper Darby.

31, age of man who entered an open guilty plea after an altercation with police in Upper Darby.

28 percent tax hit on those making more than $500,000, what President Obama wants.

500 dollar tax credit for families where both spouses work and have income up to $210,000.

2 years of free community college.

500,000 bail for New Jersey mom charged with fatally setting her baby on fire.

100 dollars a ticket, what it cost to get into the Wolf Inaugural party in Hershey last night.

3-2 overtime win for the Flyers in fight-filled game vs. the Penguins.

210 million dollar, 7 year deal inked by pitcher Max Scherzer with the Nationals.

11 balls reported to be under-inflated as the NFL probes Patriots again.

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

Nothing like a little old-time hockey at the Wells Fargo Center, eh?

I Don’t Get It: How could you swipe a wheelchair from someone’s driveway? I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Chester Children’s Chorus, which had a moment in the spotlight performing yesterday at the inauguration of Gov. Tom Wolf.

Quote Box: “I am an unconventional leader.”

- New Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf.

Here's your early morning winter roads report for Wednesday

First the good news.

The drive into work should be fine.

Now the bad news.

The commute home may be an adventure.

Despite temperatures below freezing and what first appeared to be a sheen on the roads as I stepped out the door, I did not encounter any real icing or even much in the way of slick spots during my early-morning commute.

Of course the first thing I had to do was chip away at the heavy coat of frost that caked all the windows.

But once tucked safely inside, the drive into the office was pretty much as normal.

West Chester Pike and the Route 1 Media Bypass were fine. Same goes for Springfield Road.

This afternoon sounds like it will be a tad bit more challenging.

We're expecting snow to move in later this afternoon and give us anywhere from 1-3 inches. The problem with this storm is that it sounds like it is going to arrive just in time for the evening rush hour. Hopefully, it will hold out until kids are safely home from school.

Here is the latest forecast.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Jan. 20

The Daily Numbers: 300 people who took part in the ‘Pieces of Peace’ activities to mark the MLK holiday in Chester.

1,500 people who took to the streets in Philly in a march to focus on the recent deaths of 2 black men at the hands of police.

135 kids from Chester who make up the Chester Children’s Chours. They will perform today at the inauguration of Tom Wolf as governor of Pa. in Harrisburg.

47th governor, take a bow, Tom Wolf. Now get to work.

2 billion dollar budget gap that will greet Wolf when he reports for work tomorrow.

69th Street movie complex that is being converted into one of those dinner and a movie joints.

1.5 million dollars in renovations that will be sunk into the 32,000 square foot venue.

100 percent occupancy in the 69th Street Shopping District once the movie complex opens in April.

21 people who made comments at the recent public hearing on the proposals for Springfield High School.

4 February, when the school board will get down to the key topic in the discussion - how much are all these plans expected to cost?

29 of January, when Aston will hold a public hearing on the expansion plan filed by the Delaware County Intermediate Unit for their campus on Crozerville Road.

17 residents chased from their South Philly homes overnight by a gas leak.

50 percent approval rating for President Obama as he prepares to deliver his 6th State of the Union Address tonight.

4 as in No. 4 team in the nation for the Villanova Wildcats in yesterday’s latest AP college hoops poll.

78-58 drubbing for the Wildcats just a few hours later at the hands of Georgetown.

7-4 ugly loss for the Flyers to the Islanders yesterday.

111-76 loss for the Sixers at the hands of the Wizards.

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

The NFL is looking into whether or not the Patriots may have deflated the balls used in their big win over Colts on Sunday in an attempt to get an advantage. The Patriots won, 45-7. Yep, the balls were the key to the game.

I Don’t Get It: It’s expected to snow a bit Wedneday afternoon. All other news will soon cease. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Chester Children’s Chorus. They’re set to perform today at the inauguration of Tom Wolf in Harrisburg.

Quote Box: “I’d never been on a scene like that. It was the worst experience.”

- Joe Bardroff, who witnessed the horror that played out on icy Blue Route Sunday morning.

Chester kids make sweet music at Wolf inaugural

There is a great local connection to the Tom Wolf inauguration today.

No, we're not talking about the parade of former Gov. Ed Rendell cronies who are taking key spots in the Wolf Administration.

We're talking about a group of kids from Chester. The Chester Children's Chorus will be part of the festivities, performing during the ceremony and closing the ceremony with their rendition of "America the Beautiful."

You can get all the details here.

These kids are maybe the best-kept secret in the city. We recently profiled the group.

We'll also have live coverage of the Wolf inauguration. You can take part in our live blog by using the hashtag #WolfForPa on Twitter.

It all starts with the swearing-in ceremony for Mike Stack as lieutenant governor at 10:30 a.m. That followed with Wolf taking the oath of office as Pennsylvania's 47th governor at noon.

Stay with all day for live coverage. And keep your eyes out for a great group of kids from Chester.

Brace yourself for another weather (forecasting) assault

Brace yourself.

There's a four-letter word in the forecast again. Which no doubt will spark a flurry of other four-letter words from people who hate winter as much as I do.

But there is another reason for my angst this week.

I expect a non-stop bombardment by our TV friends heralding this winter event.

To be clear, as best as I can tell it is expected to start snowing late Wednesday afternoon and we could get anything from a dusting to an inch or so, just in time for the Wednesday evening rush hour. But it certainly does not look like any kind of paralyzing storm.

None of that will likely stop the harangue from the TV types who will do their best to make sure we are prepared for this latest dose of winter weather.

Which brings me to the point. Wouldn't it have been nice to get that kind of warning Saturday night as to what was in store for us Sunday morning?

Look, I realize weather forecasting is an inexact science. But I don't recall hearing much of anything Saturday night in terms of the ice event that turned local roads into skating rinks. Multiple car collisions shut down the Blue Route and Schuylkill Expressway. Several lives were lost.

Here's what happened. The call was for rain to move in later Sunday morning, after temperatures had risen above freezing.

What happened is that it turned colder earlier than expected Saturday night into Sunday morning. And the rain arrived sooner than expected. When it hit those cold surfaces, it froze. With deadly results.

I have to give a tip of the hat to local weather guy John Bolaris. He took to Twitter to admit this was a bad miss on the part of the weather forecasters.

Good for you, John.

Not great times for Philly fans

I suppose things could be more dismal for Philly sports fans.

I'm just not sure how.

Actually, I guess we could be Green Bay fans. Yeah, that might be worse. It got me to thinking, would you rather miss the playoffs all together, as Chip Kelly and the Birds just did, or face the agony of coughing up what certainly appeared to be a sure thing trip to the Super Bowl, as the Packers managed to do?

In the meantime, the Flyers got walloped yesterday afternoon by the Islanders. They continue to be going nowhere fast.

We already know the Sixers are actually trying to lose. They did that again yesterday, getting blown out by the Wizards in D.C. One thing we did not expect was for Villanova to join the bandwagon.

Just a few hours after being elevated to No. 4 in the country in the AP poll, the Wildcats came up flat vs. Georgetown. They were never in the game as they got drubbed, 78-58.

The Phillies? They report to Clearwater exactly one month from today. But they're still considering dealing ace left-hander Cole Hamels.

What's a local sports fan to do?

Call me when it's time for The Masters.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Jan. 19

The Daily Numbers: 2 people killed in icy conditions early Sunday morning in crash on Blue Route.

1 person killed in multi-vehicle crash on the Schuylkill Expressway.

60 cars involved in the smash-up on the Schuylkill.

3 hours, how long the Delaware River Port Authority shut down the bridges crossing the Delaware River, including the Commodore Barry, because of icy conditions.

146 salt trucks dispatched by PennDOT about 4 a.m. to combat the ice.

26th annual celebration held Sunday at Media Fellowship House to kick off the commemorations honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

16 deaths in Delaware being linked to the flu.

16-0 lead blown by the Packers in the second half as they ended up losing in overtime to the Seahawks, 28-22.

35-yard TD pass from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse for the win in OT.

1 fake field goal and 1 onside kick that all went the Seahawks way.

0 quarterback rating for Russell Wilson at one point in the 3rd Quarter. And he still won.

14 of 29 for Wilson on the day.

4 interceptions he threw as well.

45-7 blowout win for the Patriots over the Colts.

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

Raise your hand if you know exactly how Green Bay fans feel this morning. Thought so.

I Don’t Get It: Bill Belichick is being accused of mischief again, under inflating the falls used in yesterday’s game. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who will take part in various MLK Day acts of service across Delco today.

Quote Box: “This is the most difficult type of precipitation situation to deal with in the wintertime ... when you have flash-freezing conditions.”

- PennDOT spokesman Gene Blaum.

We know how you feel, Packers fans

Someone tell me I did not slip into my normal coma-like state on the sofa while watching that Seahawks-Packers game.

I need someone to give me a cold, hard slap in the face.

Then tell me, honestly, the Seahawks did not really win that game, did they?

Actually, they did.

And all night I've been thinking of basically only one thing.

What do you think the reaction would be this morning in Philly if our bedraggled Birds had done what Green Bay managed to pull off yesterday. That being snatching a bitter loss from the jaws of victory.

Agony of defeat? That doesn't even begin to explain this one.

The Packers were up 16-0 at halftime. The Seahawks looked dead in the water. Russell Wilson looked completely lost. Seattle did not register a first down until half way through the second quarter. Their first two possessions resulted in turnovers.

But Eagles fans no doubt were shaking their heads when the Packers had to settle for field goals in both of those early first quarter gifts bestowed on them. You just knew it would come back to haunt them.

It did.

They were just about to pronounce the Seahawks dead on arrival, when the first of several weird things happened. Instead of kicking what really would have been a fairly meaningless field goal, Pete Carroll went way out on a limb and instead called a fake. It resulted in a touchdown and life.

Then the ball started slowly, inevitably rolling downhill for the Pack.

Seatle was still down 19-7 with four minutes left in the game and Russell Wilson and their offense doing absolutely nothing. Eventually Wilson managed to drive the Seahawks for a score to close the gap to 19-14.

Cue the music from the Twilight Zone.

Seattle ran an onside kick, which everyone on the planet knew was coming, except maybe for the Green Bay coaching staff. The kick went to Packers tight end Brandon Bostick. He couldn't handle it. You kind of knew was was going to happen next. The Seahawks scored again and then put a little icing on the cake with a desperation heave by Wilson on the two-point conversion, which of course landed in the arms of Luke Wilson.

22-19 Seattle with 1:25 remaining. Unreal.

But Aaron Rodgers was not done. He expertly drove the Packers into position for a Mason Crosby field goal to knot the game the send it into overtime.

The Seahawks got the ball and never looked back. Remember that in the NFL, in overtime if the team that wins the coin toss and takes the ball wins if they score a TD. Only if they kick a field goal does the opposing offense get a shot. Wilson took care of that with his best pass of the day, a perfect 35-yard strike on a post pattern right down the center of the field to Jermaine Kearse. The Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl.

The Packers are going somewhere familiar to Philly fans. Trying to figure out how they managed to lose that game.

We have our Joe Jurevicious running down the field. Now the Packers and their fans have Jermaine Kearse.

I rarely feel bad for the incredibly well-paid people who populate professional sports.

But I can admit I actually felt for Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy in a post-game press conference as he tried to explain what had just happened.

Take it from someone who knows, coach. There is no explanation. And there is no relief. It will hurt for a long time.

The next Super Bowl the Eagles win will be their first.

We feel your pain, coach.

A fitting tribute to Jason McClay

I used my print column this week to pay tribute to Jason McClay.

I hope you remember his name.

The people at Rite Aid do.

He was the manager of the Rite Aid store at Ninth and Highland in Chester who was gunned down during a robbery back in 2013. Last week Rite Aid donated $10,000 to the effort to install more surveillance cameras in a couple of crime-ridden Chester neighborhoods.

Good for them.

24 hours after a nightmare, here is your Monday morning roads report

One day after ice turned area roads into a deadly nightmare, here is a report from an early morning commute: Take it easy and you should be fine.

Once you carve out your car that is.

I stepped out the door and gingerly made my way up an icy driveway to find my car encased in a thin coating of ice. The doors were a bit cranky but I got them open. The windshield and windows required some work.

Once out on the road, it became apparent that PennDOT and municipalities were not going to be caught off-guard again. There is salt everywhere and I encountered several salt trucks on my commute into the office.

The main roads are pretty much OK; the side roads are a bit more slick.

Here's the key: There is almost no one on the roads when I am driving. I am guessing that things will get a lot messier once the roads get crowded.

I encountered no problems on West Chester Pike, Providence Road, the Route 1 Bypass, or Springfield Road.

Temperatures were hovering right around 30 degrees, so there is the possibility of ice being out there.

I'd also caution anyone walking. Sidewalks and other untreated surfaces will be slick.

We also will get a huge break today because it is a holiday for many, making the national day of service in honor of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Many schools and offices are closed, so traffic will be down considerably.

There is another reason I wanted to write about the weather this morning.

I vent almost constantly about how much I dislike winter, and cold weather, and the resultant snow and ice that can make getting anywhere a challenge.

I also am less than a fan of the way local TV stations handle the weather, constantly droning on about even the slightest chance of flurries.

So here is my question: Did I miss something Saturday night. I watch the news and listen to the radio almost constantly.

I thought I heard Sunday being constantly referred to as a "rain event." I don't recall any ice warnings.

I also am wondering if PennDOT will be questioned about their response. They say they had trucks out Saturday night salting surfaces. That did not stop major arteries turning into a icy nightmare.

I am hoping this morning does not offer a repeat.

Take it easy out there.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Daily Numbers for Friday, Jan. 16

The Daily Numbers: 500,000 dollars in savings already trimmed from the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District budget.

1.2 million dollars more in cuts needed.

2.56 mill tax hike already being looked at for the $74 million fiscal plan.

6.9 million dollars to $8.4 million, boost in school district’s payment for employee retirement plan. That is 11.4 percent of the budget.

1 borough manager in the 122-year history of Aldan Borough. Kudos to John White on the new job.

26, age of man from Ridley Park killed in crash on Route 41 in Del. yesterday.

2 Pa. state troopers among 3 people injured in a crash yesterday at Routes 1 and 452 in Middletown.

19, age of Folcroft man charged with stealing a loaded semiautomatic handgun.

2 intersections in Chester Heights that are being changed to make them safer for drivers.

26, age of man charged with hitting a police officer with his car out in Chester County.

3 states that do not have an education funding formula in place. Pa. is 1 of them.

1 person killed in 5-vehicle crash that shut down I-95 in Philly and Bucks county for hours yesterday.

18, age of Temple University student who was killed when she fell 8 floors to her death from a building in Philadelphia.

18.4 billion dollars in debt that caused Caesars Entertainment Corp. to file for bankruptcy.

2 terror suspects killed in police action in Belgium.

133 stores in Canada being closed by Target.

2 straight games the Flyers have been shut out.

4-0 shellacking in front of home fans at Wells Fargo Center last night.

11 points out of final playoff spot for the orange and black.

31, Union’s 1st pick in MLS SuperDraft. They took Dzenan Catic.

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

I’m beginning to wonder how long Ed Snider will hold out before he decides to make major changes with this floudering Flyers team.

I Don’t Get It: The woman making the Academy Award nominations had the misfortune of mispronouncing one nominee’s name. Of course it quickly went viral. I guess poop happens.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Pew Charitable Trusts, which yesterday added their considerable voice to those saying that the state’s system of funding education is basically unfair.

Quote Box: “Our elected representatives, and the governors going back to Gov. Ridge, have created a monstrous liability for the state and, as you can see, it’s threatening our school district.”

- Wallingford Swarthmore School Board President Paul Schregel, on the district’s growing pension liability.

The truth about education funding in Pa.

Well, what do you know. Someone agrees with us. Hold the champagne, though. This isn't a cause for celebration. It's a cause for concern.

For years I have taken up the pulpit on the editorial pages of this paper and harangued anyone who would listen that Pennsylvania's system of education funding is unfair, one that creates an unlevel playing field that unduly penalizes a lot of kids for no other reason than their zip code.

In other words, the state is divided into the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' when it comes to education funding. Too many kids in Delaware County, like the kids and families in the William Penn School District, are facing a decidedly uphill battle before they ever enter a classroom.

Yesterday the Pew Charitable Trusts released a study that said the state direly needs a new education funding formula. It's something we have been urging for years. The state actually put one in place after a costing-out study was done in 2012, but it was dropped early in the Corbett Administration as being too costly.

The Pew folks agree with our assessment, the current lack of an adequate formula creates deep divides beteen urban and suburban districts. It's pretty simple. When schools in more well-to-do districts need more money, they simply turn to their tax base. A lot of districts in urban areas and other economically challenged towns don't have that luxury.

Pennsylvania is one of just three states that currently does not have a formula, joining Delaware and North Carolina.

Shame on us for allowing this system to fester this long.

Another 0-fer on the Oscar front

Well, my record remains intact.

Once again this year, I can report that I have not seen a single movie nominated for Best Picture for the Academy Awards. Same goes for Best Actor and Actress as well.

Maybe that has something to do with the fact that I did not attend a single movie last year. Not in a theater. I need a life.

For those of you with a life, here are all the details you need to know about this year's Oscar nominations.

All eyes on Berube as Flyers fall

Better start the Craig Berube watch.

The Flyers got shut out for the second straight game last night, a 4-0 thrashing in front of the home folks at the Wells Fargo Center at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks.

Ray Emery got the start and he was not sharp, giving up three goals before being pulled in the second period. Rob Zepp came in and did not exactly provide relief, giving up the fourth goal just seconds after getting into the net.

After the game, Berube gave the distinct impression that he was not satisfied with his team's effort, especially after they fell behind early.

He didn't say quit, but you sort of got the message.

Flyers owner Ed Snider has never been known as the patient sort. This is the team that fired a coach three games into the season in jettisoning Peter Laviolette two years ago.

Like almost everyone connected to the Flyers, Berube is family. He should ask Bob Clarke how that worked out for him. Berube needs to turn this thing around quick.

His team is now double digits out of the final playoff spot. Berube is not the one who has been unable to find the net the last two games. Nor is he the goalie who came up small last night.

But it's likely he will be the one to take the fall. With the Flyers, that's the way it works.

Ed Snider has never been reticent about pulling the trigger. I get the feeling his finger is likely getting itchy.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Jan. 15

The Daily Numbers: 1 of 5 people charged in the murder of Chester Rite Aid store manager Jason McClay pleaded guilty yesterday.

76, age of woman killed in house fire early Wednesday in Yeadon. Authorities believe the woman may have been smoking.

36, age of Upper Darby woman who will do time in county prison connected to the heroin overdose death of her boyfriend.

20 to 40 years in prison for a Chester man convicted in the stabbing death of his mother.

1 person arrested after a police chase that started in Tinicum ended in a crash on Chester Pike in Collingdale. One car slammed into and damaged a house, as well as another car.

1 nearly frozen chihuahua rescued from a home in Chester County by the SPCA.

3 issues that remain outstanding in talks between the Ridley School Board and teachers. The board again rejected a fact-finders report.

1 year in federal prison for a woman who the feds say filed $350,000 worth of bogus tax refunds.

246,000 dollar grant for recycling for Eddystone Borough.

20 months in prison for a former Philly Traffic Court Judge.

4 top officials getting the boot in a shakeup at the Secret Service.

8.5 percent decline in revenue last year for Atlantic City casinos.

989.98 dollar tip given to a cabbie for a $4 fare.

54 arrested in France in a crackdown on hate speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

1 goal allowed by Flyers goalie Rob Zepp last night. Unfortunately it stoood up as the Caps took a 1-0 win.

25 saves for Zepp.

15 points out of the playoffs, where the Flyers find themselves this morning.

100-84 loss for the Sixers last night in Toronto.

18 points for former Wildcat Kyle Lowry.

88-75 win for No. 5 Villanova over Xavier in Big East play.

4-1 Big East mark, 16-1 overall for the Wildcats.

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

Anyone else notice that former Villanova Wildcar Kyle Lowry is slowly becoming one of the best point guards in the NBA. He led Toronto over the Sixers last night.

I Don’t Get It: When is the last time you saw someone actually outrun police in a car. A guy tried it againa yesterday morning, with a high-speed chase that started in Tinicum and ended badly in Collingdale, when the fleeing vehicle hit a couple of others before slamming into a house.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Chester County SPCA, which rescued several pups that were literally freezing to death in a Chester County yard.

Quote Box: “The goal of the district remains clear: a sustainable multi-year contract that balances the needs of the taxpaying community and the dedicated teachers of the district.”

- Statement by Ridley School Board after again rejecting fact-finder’s report.

Storm clouds on the Chester waterfront

There are some storm clouds forming on the Chester waterfront.

Some cracks are forming in what was supposed to be the key to the city's economic turnaround.

Remember, this all started years ago with the unveiling of the gloriously restored former PECO Power Station, the heart of the Wharf at Rivertown, right on the Delaware River.

It was soon joined by Harrah's casino farther down the river, and then PPL Park right next door.

One of the very first tenants at the Wharf was Wells Fargo. That's why it was disappointing this week to hear that the major bank is pulling 250 workers from the Chester waterfront and relocating them to a site in center city Philadelphia. About 110 workers will remain in Chester, but reading between the lines, it looks like their future in the city is shaky as well.

Wells Fargo is doing what seemingly every business is doing these days - consolidating. They recently moved a bunch of workers from Philly to their home base in North Carolina. That's when they made the decision to move the Chester workers to those now-vacant offices in Philly.

City officials remain confident in the Wharf, however, and note that several new tenants have booked space in the complex.

Buccini Pollin development group owns the Wharf, and they point out that while Wells Fargo may be moving out, others are moving in. Day & Zimmerman, a Delaware-based engineering firm, recently signed a lease to occupy 20,000 square feet at the Wharf. They will bging 98 jobs with them.

In addition, Virtus, the realty outfit that is marketing the site, is planning to occupy another floor and a half, about 50,000 square feet.

Down the road at Harrah's, things are even more murky.

Their parent company, Caesars Entertainment, filed for bankruptcy this week.

Harrah's has been struggling for several years with declining slots revenue, and now faces the likelihood of another casino being plopped down at the South Philly sports complex just 10 miles up the road on I-95.

Several county and city officials said such a move could be a death knell for the Chester gaming parlor.

Keep you eyes on the Chester waterfront.

It looks like a storm could be brewing.

Lowry another great Villanova story

There was a lot of good news for Villanova fans last night.

First, the No. 5-ranked Wildcats continued to roll in Big East play. They cruised to a 88-75 win over Xavier. Terry Toohey has all the details here.

But there is another Villanova story playing out in hoops, just not at the college level.

Anyone else notice what Kyle Lowry is doing these days?

The former Wildcat has developed into one of the best point guards in the NBA.

Last night he had 18 points and 12 assists to lead Toronto over the Sixers, 100-84. That story is here.

How do you think he'd look paired with Michael Carter-Williams in the Sixers backcourt?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Jan. 14

The Daily Numbers: 1 person killed in an early morning fire in a home in Yeadon.

250 employees being moved out of the Wharf at Rivertown in Chester to downtown Philly by Wells Fargo.

110 Wells Fargo workers will remain on the Chester waterfront for now.

98 jobs coming to the Wharf with the arrival of Day & Zimmerman, a Delaware engineering firm.

2 Bottom Dollar stores in Delco that joined 60 in the chain that closed 2 days earlier than expected.

7 months, how long the Chester site was open.

19, age of Upper Darby teen who will be spending time in Delco Prison after pleading guilty to charges of statutory sexual assault and corruption of minors.

59, age of Haverford High football coach Joe Gallagher, who was held for trial on a DUI charge.

2,800 dollars ripped off from a local credit union by a Media man, who was in court to plead guilty yesterday.

4 million dollar tax anticipation loan OK’d by Upper Darby Township.

60 million dollar fine against Penn State that is at heart of lawsuit vs. NCAA. The sports ruling body lost a round in court yesterday in their attempt to have the suit tossed.

56, age of woman gunned down execution-style just blocks from the Temple campus yesterday.

35, age of former teacher at Church Farm School in Exton who is now charged with having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student.

425 point swing for the stock market yesterday. At one point in the morning it was up more than 200 points. It wound up down about 30.

105-87 loss for the Sixers at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks last night in South Philly.

23 wins in last 25 games for Hot-Lanta.

15 points for former Sixers Kyle Korver.

45-28 win for the Neumann-Goretti girls over O’Hara.

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

Guess that roll by the Sixers is over.

I Don’t Get It: Snow in South Jersey and Delaware. Keep it there.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the parishioners at Holy Spirit in Sharon Hill. They honored their church with one final Mass Sunday before the planned merger with St. George in Glenolden.

Quote Box: “I understand that you didn’t want me to do it, but I want it done.”

- Suspected Mercy Fitz gunman to his attorney, in seeking to enter a guilty plea.

The cautionary tale of MaryKate Blankenburg

Consider this a cautionary tale.

I spend an inordinate amount of time every day online.

I can tell you two things about the cyberworld: It is increasingly becoming an ugly place, where trolls and bullies are free to spread their warped view of the world in anonymity. Second, be very careful when you are online. It is very easy to get yourself in a lot of trouble very quickly with just a few seeming innocent keystrokes.

In other words, remember that while our impulses and thoughts are fleeting, and the decision to express them online may be as well, their impact is not. It is forever.

Take it from someone who knows. Once something is 'published' online, it is nearly impossible to retrieve.

Typo in a headline? I do it all the time. I scramble to correct the mistake, only to be reminded in an email with a screen shot of my error.

The other day I managed to send out a tweet to indicate that Upper Darby School District had joined the list of schools 'now' opening with a two-hour delay during the ice storm. Unfortunately that is not what I typed. Instead I indicated that Upper Darby is 'not' opening two hours late.

My Facebook and Twitter accounts exploded.

Those are simple mistakes. I always fess up to them and beg the readers' forgiveness. There is a Wallenda-like atmosphere in what I do in the early morning hours on In other words, it's a little bit like operating without a net. There is no other set of eyes to look at material before it gets posted for the world to see.

It can be a bit of a daunting experience.

Those are the easy ones. More serious is the anger, emotion and just plain threats more and more people are expressing online. Just as in the occasional typo, I am certain of one thing: Speed kills. We are all hell-bent to post something first, to blurt out our emotions. Too often instead of carefully considering the reverberations of those thoughts, we instead take to Twitter or Facebook and vent.

Often with disastrous results.

I am thinking maybe MaryKate Blankenburg might agree.

She used to be a guidance counselor at Central Bucks West High School. That is until she for some reason decided to go on social media and offer her thoughts on a "die-in" protest planned for a busy intersection outside Lincoln Financial Field after the Dec. 7 Eagles game vs. the Seattle Seahawks.

This is the message Blankenburg's account sent out to the world:

"If my child cannot get to the Eagles game due to protesters, I will personally SHOOT every one of them. You've been warned idiots."

Someone should have warned Blankenburg to think before she sent out that message.

It cost her her job. She will not face criminal charges, but Tuesday night the Central Bucks School Board voted to terminate her.

When I first heard of the protest planned outside the Linc, I kind of winced. I actually wrote in my blog that I did not think it was the best idea. I spent a lot of time in the 700 Level of the Vet as an Eagles season ticket holder. I know that one of the most dangerous times in what could be a wild and wooly day inevitably would be getting out of the parking lot.

But I never for a moment would consider posting anything close to the kind of invective Blankenburg spurted out.

I don't do anything anonymously. Every thing I write or post - from print, online, Twitter and Facebook - it has my name beside it. And I know the peril that entails - and how easy it is to cross the line.

Clearly Blankenburg's post obliterated that line.

I have never met the woman. If I had to guess, I'm fairly certain she never had any intention of doing any harm to those protesters. But you just can't do what she did - and express the thoughts she spewed out. Actually, that's part of the problem. You can. It's real easy. Repairing the damage it not.

She has now paid a very high price for that fit of rage.

We all have them. I have them all the time. Ask anyone in this office. I can curse with the best of them and do so often. It is one of my worst traits, one I have tried to curb unsuccessfully for years. I can tell you that the invective I often regale my co-workers with is often tied into the technology we all swim in every day.

But lobbing a few verbal firebombs - or even another kind of F-bomb - is one thing. Tapping it out on a keyboard and expressing it in front of the rest of the world is another.

Maybe MaryKate Blankenburg knows that now.

The rest of us should take warning.

We found some more snow!

It is snowing again.

In South Jersey.

I'm sure the local TV stations are thrilled. They dispatched reporters to Wildwood to detail the scene as some flakes are beginning to fall.

No doubt we'll be warned that the roads are becoming slick. I know the drill. And I know why they do it. Weather is ratings magic.

Especially snow. So they go where the snow is. That is why Allentown and the Poconos have suddenly been transformed into the "Philadelphia suburbs." And here I thought Upper Darby was the western suburbs. Shows what I know.

What I do know is that you cannot give readers enough weather.

So, I can report that it is once again nasty cold out this morning. My odometer was reading 16 degrees this morning.

Here's the complete AccuWeather forecast.

Be careful out there, especially if you're headed for the Jersey shore.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Jan. 13

The Daily Numbers: 10,000 dollars donated by Rite Aid Corp. to help install more surveillance cameras in Chester.

1.1 million dollars total being invested by the city, Widener University and the Riverfront Alliance of Chester in the effort.

2 corridors - dubbed the Blue and Yellow corridors - that will be targeted for hundreds of surveillance cameras.

9 of 15 public school districts in Delco that opted to go with a 2-hour delay during Monday morning’s icy conditions.

22, age of driver now facing DUI charges after slamming into the Chester Township fire house.

69, age of man struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver in Claymont yesterday morning. Police are now hunting for the driver.

88 of the 182 parking spaces at 69th Street Terminal being taken out of use during renovations to the terminal.

112 wins for Penn State under legendary Coach Joe Paterno that could be reinstated as the school and NCAA continue talks to settle a lawsuit over sanctions slapped on the school in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal.

2,600 mental health workers for Kaiser Permanente in California who have gone on strike.

91, age of 2 members of the legendary Tuskeegee Airmen, both of whom died on the same day in Los Angeles.

6 suspected members of terror cell responsible for deadly France attack believed to still be at large.

96 point slide for the Dow yesterday as oil prices continue to slip.

42-20 win for Ohio State over Oreon in national title college football game last night.

333 yards passing and 2 TDs for Oregon QB Marcus Mariota.

4 touchdowns below their season average for the Ducks.

2 for 13 on third downs for Oregon.

21 unanswered points in 2nd half to put the game away for Ohio State.

7-3 win for the Flyers last night over Tampa.

2-0 record for backup goaltender Rob Zepp

5 second period goals for the Flyers to blow the game open.

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

So did you see enough from Marcus Mariota last night to franchise the future and trade up to make him the Eagles QB? I’m not sold.

I Don’t Get It: Why does this kind of event have to start at 8:30, meaning a finish that stretches to midnight. They lost me.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Rite Aid for stepping up and donating $10,000 to the push to install surveillance cameras in Chester.

Quote Box: “We are still grieving over that murder.”

- Rite Aid regional vice President Ken Jordan, in talking about the slaying of store manager Jason McClay during a holdup in 2013.

A fitting tribute for Jason McClay

I have to admit when first got the press release announcing Monday's press conference on Rite Aid Corp. donating $10,000 toward surveillance cameras in Chester, the first thing I thought of was Jason Scott McClay.

He's the Rite Air store manager who was gunned down during a robbery at the store at Ninth and Highland in the city in September 2013. It's a fitting tribute.

Here's the story.

Why the Shane Montgomery story hit home

One thing I've learned in 35 years in this business is that some stories stay with you more than others.

I can tell you that I react to stories differently as a parent than I did when was I was younger, unmarried, and seemingly without a care in the world.

Lying in bed waiting for the front door to open and your treasured offspring returning safely to the nest will have that effect on you, I guess.

It's why I spent much of this holiday season thinking about the family of Shane Montgomery and the ordeal they were going through. He was a few years older than my son.

His name is Shane; mine's is Sean.

They both sport tattoos.

It's in my weekly print column.

Chip Kelly and Marcus Mariota

I think it's safe to say this was not what Chip Kelly had in mind.

The Eagles' boss still has close ties to the Oregon program he led to national prominence. Last night the Ducks were certainly on the national stage, tangling with Ohio State in the NCAA's first playoff for a national title.

It did not go well for Kelly's Heroes.

They got spanked, as Ohio State scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to blow open what had been a close game.

For some reason I think there is more to this whole Eagles front-office power struggle than appears to the eye.

In short, I think Chip Kelly wants Marcus Mariota, and is willing to do whatever it takes to bring the Oregon quarterback who he recruited for the Ducks in to run his uptempo offense with the Eagles.

You can read about last night's game here.

As far as Mariota goes, I absolutely think he'd be very good in running Kelly's read-option attack. At the same time, I don't necessarily think he's the prototypical NFL QB. In other words, if you are going to mortgage the farm to bring in Mariota, with most experts saying the Eagles would have to give up several years worth of No. 1 draft picks, you better be sure Kelly is sticking around.

If for some reason the Eagles and Kelly part ways, you could be stuck with a guy who doesn't necessarily translate to what your would expect from an NFL quarterback.

In other words, things will be very interesting down at the NovaCare Center leading up to the NFL Draft.

But then again, when aren't things interesting in Eagles-ville. There really is no offseason with the Birds anymore. Especially as the Flyers and Sixers struggle, and the Phillies offer no signs of a quick turnaround.

It's all Eagles, all the time.

Let the Mariota debate begin.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Jan. 12

The Daily Numbers: 300 friends and family who gathered at vigil to remember the life of Dante DeSimone last night.

1 year since the freak accident in which he was struck and killed outside the McDonald’s on Baltimore Pike in Upper Darby.

1 final Mass celebrated Sunday at Holy Spirit Parish in Sharon Hill. They are merging with St. George Parish in Glenolden.

19 million dollar rebuilding set of the 69th Street bus and trolley terminal.

88 fewer parking spaces that will be available at the site.

3.873 tax rate set in the budget by Upper Providence.

100 million dollars, how much the new owner of Granite Run Mall plans to sink into his Town Center plans, including new residential and retail.

388 family residential units.

1,600 dollar average monthly rent for the units.

200 who attended rally in Philly over weekend to support local police.

3 people found slain in home in Holmesburg section of Philly.

5, age of youth injured when he fell from a ski lift at a Montco resort.

1 million people who took to the streets of Paris in show of support against terror following deadly week.

2 weeks, how long the Flyers likely will be without goalie Steve Mason.

26-21 win for Packers over Cowboys

24-13 victory for Colts over Peyton Manning and Broncos.

3 wins in last 4 games for the Sixers.

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

Break up the Sixers! Tanks for the turnaround, guys.

I Don’t Get It: I hate to admit it, but I think the Cowboys got hosed on that call.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who gathered last night on Baltimore Pike to honor the memory of Dante DeSimone on the one-year anniversary of his death.

Quote Box: “It’s just a beautiful church and it’s just hard to let go.”

- Zack Layden, at the final Mass to be celebrated at his parish church, Holy Spirit in Sharon Hill.