Friday, February 27, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Feb. 27

The Daily Numbers: 150,000 dollars being sought in suit filed against Marcus Hook, former Mayor Jay Schiliro by man who says the ex-pol held him hostage.

10 percent of 25,000 dollars, why Schiliro is currently sitting in jail on a new charge of theft.

400 people who packed the recent Garnet Valley School Board meeting to air their feelings.

11,000 hotels rooms in Philly, and another 65,000 in a 60-mile radius, all of which are expected to be filled when the pope visits in September. The archdiocese wants local families to host pilgrims coming for the World Meeting of Families.

250 foot telecommunications tower that is expected to get the OK in Middletown.

57, age of California man who entered guilty plea to supplying pot for drug ring run by 2 brother from Drexel Hill.

100 jobs filled at the Victory Brewing Co. eatery that will open soon in Kennett Square.

1,000 customers a day expected to hit the popular brew pub.

114-87 vote in the Pa. House in favor of privatizing liquor sales in the state.

2,500 wine of liquor outlets would replace 600 state stores.

4,300 state store workers who could lose their jobs.

20 years, how long the ‘Black Madam’ says she’s been doing body sculpting. She’s now on trial after one of her clients died from complications.

21 years, how long the students at Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades have been showing off their work at the Philadelphia Flower Show, which opens tomorrow.

10 acres, how much area inside the Pa. Convention Center is covered by the Flower Show.

240,000 people expected to attend the annual harbinger of spring.

32 bucks for an adult ticket to the show; children are $15.

109 million dollars, how much Gov. Tom Wolf says his new GO-TIME panel has found in savings in the state budget already.

3-2 loss for the Flyers in Toronto last night. A bad loss.

3-2 win for Haverford over Ridley in high school hockey.

10 years, how long Todd Herremans has been an Eagle. He’s being released by the team.

54.47 seconds, how long it took Haverford High’s Maddie Hart to cover the 100 butterfly, to set a new Delco record.

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

These Flyers are one of the more frustrating teams of recent years. It’s almost as if they don’t want to catch the Bruins for that final playoff spot.

I Don’t Get It: Last day of February is expected to go out tomorrow with near-record low temperatures. What a lousy month this has been.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to D.A. Jack Whelan, who is getting the heroin overdose drug Naloxone into state police cruisers.

Quote Box: “We’re looking at it as a statewide distribution.”

- a state police spokesman.

Senate now up to bat in great Pa. Booze Battle

Now batting, No. 26 (as in 26th District), Tom McGarrigle.

And on deck are Messrs. Pileggi, Leach and Williams.

No, Ruben Amaro hasn't gone completely around the bend and signed a bunch of Delco politicos to fix his ailing lineup.

That's just my way of saying that the ball is now once again in the Senate's court when it comes to the great Pennsylvania Booze Battle.

As it turns out, one of the very first votes Tom McGarrigle will make as the newly elected state senator in the 26th District will be on the highly contention question of whether Pennsylvania should blow up its antiquated state store system and turn the sale of alcohol over to private enterprise.

Yesterday the measure being pushed by Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, passed the House by a 114-87 margin.

Every Democrat, including Delco Reps. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, and Greg Vitali, D-166, voted against it. All but four Republicans - none from Delco - voted in favor.

Turzai's bill is similar to the one that passed the House last fall. Here are the details. Basically it would sell 1,200 licenses and slowly phase out the state stores. Beer distributors would get first show at the licenses. Supermarkets would focus on wine sales. It's a convoluted thing and still not a true privatization, but it certainly would make things more convenient than they are now. The problem with the bill is the same as last fall - with one large addition.

The Republican-controlled Senate let this plan die without a vote last fall. And that was with Republican Tom Corbett inhabiting the governor's mansion. Now Democrat Tom Wolf holds the reins, and he opposes privatization. He wants to modernize the existing system.

Then there are the numbers. Once the state blows through the expected $1 billion windfall from selling the licenses, a lot of people wonder how they will make up for the revenue currently provided by the state store system. There also is heated debate on two other matters crucial to consumers - prices, convenience and selection.

While state stores would slowly die off - along with a couple of thousand jobs - beer distributors would not. In fact, they would get first shot at being able to buy a license to add wine sales to their businesses. They'd also be able to sell six- or 12-packs of beer. Currently they're limited to selling by the case.

But the real monster in the room would be large-scale outlets such as Total Wine, which you would have to think would be interested in entering the Pennsylvania market, instead of continuing to lure customers a stone's throw over the state line in Claymont.

For now, we await the vote in the Senate.

What say you, Mr. McGarrigle?

As for Sen. Pileggi, it has not gone unnoticed in the current debate this week that the failure of the Turzai bill last fall came when the Delco pol was the Senate majority leader. He's since been ousted from that post by members of his own party, some of whom believe he was not backing Gov. Corbett's agenda. Liquor privatization was one of the governor's big three issues.

The Senate should at least vote on the current plan, instead of simply letting it die again.

It can probably do that once it hits Wolf's desk, where it could face a veto.

That is, unless a little political horse-trading ensues.

Such as Republicans telling the new governor they just might look a bit more enthusiastically at some of his tax plans if he were to relent on liquor privatization.

February going out with a flurry: Good riddance

I don't know if March is planning to come in like a lion.

Right now I still have my hands full with February.

Yes, those are flurries you may be seeing as you peek out the window this a.m.

I first noticed it when I got in the car and noticed a dusting on my windshield. It was flurrying just about all the way in. Don't panic, it wasn't causing any issues on the roads. Actually, the drive in was fairly pleasant.

Unfortunately, that's about as good as it's going to get. We will struggle to hit 30 degrees this afternoon, then the thermometer will plunge once again tonight.

The record low for tomorrow is 9 degrees, set back in 1934. We could break that mark.

We will get a dose of sun Saturday and a high in the mid 30s as we exit February.

I think I can speak for most when I say, 'Good riddance.' This has been one of the coldest, most miserable Februarys I can remember, even if we didn't get all that much snow.

Speaking of which, March is in fact planning to come in like a lion. A snowy one.

That's right, there is some snow and rain in the forecast for Sunday night into Monday morning. The perfect way to start another work week.

Want some good news? Accu-Weather says temperatures will ease later next week and we could threaten 50 degrees by mid-week.

For now, here's the weekend forecast from the National Weather Service:

Friday: Partly sunny, with a high near 26. Northwest wind 6 to 10 mph.

Friday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 9. Northwest wind 6 to 8 mph.

Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 26. Wind chill values as low as -1. Northwest wind around 6 mph.

Saturday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 14. Calm wind.

Sunday: A chance of snow after 2 p.m. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 34. Calm wind becoming southwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Sunday Night: A chance of snow before 8 p.m, then rain and snow likely between 8 p.m.and 2 a.m., then rain or freezing rain likely after 2 am. Cloudy, with a low around 31. Chance of precipitation is 70 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Monday: Rain or freezing rain likely before 8 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 41. Chance of precipitation is 70 percent.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Feb. 26

The Daily Numbers: 3 female fire cadets who could become the first female firefighters in the history of the Chester Fire Department.

4 Chester city cops promoted to rank of sergeant.

15 dollar fine for an expired parking meter in Media starting on Monday. That’s up from $5.

24 hours, how long you have to pay the $15, then it goes to $20 for 24 and 72 hours.

25 dollars after 72 hours.

35 for parking in an illegal space.

50 dollars for illegally parking in a handicapped space.

275 acre property targeted for development at the site of the old Sleighton School in Edgmont.

3 people arraigned on theft, credit card fraud charges.

32 people busted in a heroin and meth ring operating out of Norristown that also sold drugs in Delco.

3 gun ordinances in Harrisburg that the courts have ordered the city to stop enforcing.

12 nominees of Gov. Tom Wolf that got OK by state Senate yesterday.

50 percent cut in corporate tax rate being sought by Wolf.

3 people nabbed in a plot to join Islamic state group; 1 of them ran kiosks in an unnamed Philly area mall.

4 people shot, 3 of them killed in violent night in Philadelphia.

7 points for Michael Carter-Williams as his new team, the Bucks, put away the Sixers last night.

104-88 loss for the Sixers.

44-41 loss for Ridley to Plymouth-Whitemarsh in District One semifinal game last night.

55-52 win for Glen Mills over Lower Moreland in District One AAA play.

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

Cliff Lee threw to live batters and looked good yesterday. Lee and Hamels at the top of the rotation. I can live with that.

I Don’t Get It: Yeah, that snow is going to get here any minute now. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Delaware County Veterans Memorial Foundation and their Education Committee, who are bringing invaluable lessons to schoolkids across the county.

Quote Box: “Listen, let me tell you what. I’m running around all day, I’m like the Domino’s guy. Thirty minutes or less or it’s free.”

- Drug suspect rounded up during sweep in Norristown yesterday.

'Soldiers' Stories' come to 'Live From the Newsroom'

Just call them 'Soldiers' Stories.'

Last night we used out 'Live From the Newsroom' show to profile one of the best aspects of the county's newest landmark, the Delaware County Veterans Memorial.

That is where you will find the name of every man and woman who gave their life in service to their country.

It is hallowed ground, carved out of a parcel along busy West Chester Pike in Newtown.

But because of the work of the Delaware County Veterans Memorial Education Committee, we're learning more about the lives behind those names.

Call it living history.

Under the auspices of Education Committee Chairman Linda Houldin, a longtime Newtown supervisor and key figure at the Delaware County Historical Society, each of the names on the memorial is being researched and profiled.

Last night I got a chance to meet some of the people involved in this project.

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

Houldin reached out to Professor Robert Kodosky, who specializes in military history classes at West Chester University. Together they enlisted students to tell the stories of these Delaware County heroes.

One of his graduates, Gabby Weiss, of Radnor, told us about her experience in working on the project.

And it's not just college students who are learning about the men and women from Delaware County who so ably served when called. The Education Committee has a curriculum for kids in grades K-12.

Marisa Sankey, a home schooler from Morton, was so moved by her experience with the project that she penned an emotional poem dedicated to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. You can see her recite it on the video.

Karen Confer, the education coordinator for the Delaware County Historical Society, told us how this program is quickly spreading through schools across the county.

Maybe the best thing about this project is that, once completed, the soldiers' stories are being archived by the Delaware County Historical Society.

So far Kodosky's classes have told the stories of 30 soldiers. His next class will pick up the ball in the spring.

If you haven't been there, I highly recommend a visit. The memorial is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Telling the story of our true Delaware County heroes.

A big day for liquor privatization in Pa.

It's crunch time in Harrisburg.

Or maybe that would be better referred to as 'post time.'

Since when did 10 a.m. become 'happy hour?'

Well, since today the full House of Representatives is expected to vote on Speaker Mike Turzai's bill to get Pennsylvania out of the booze business.

This is very similar to the measure that passed the House last fall - the only time in history a privatization package has passed in Pennsylvania.

There are a lot of new faces in this Legislature, but with his fellow Republicans solidly in control of the House, the Speaker's measure is expected to pass.

Its future in the Senate, where it died last fall, is a lot murkier. Despite the fact that the GOP also controls the Senate.

Turzai's complicated bill would do all kinds of things, but essentially would phase out state stores while selling licenses to private entrepreneurs, with the state's beer distributors getting first shot at them.

You can get all the details of the Turzai plan, House Bill 466 here.

We'll update you on the vote, but remember, new Gov. Tom Wolf is not a proponent of privatization. Instead he would like to see the state store system modernized. He says he would veto a privatization bill. But I get the feeling if they can get this measure through the Senate, Turzai and fellow Republicans might be able to do some horse trading with the governor, especially in the area of tax changes Wolf desperately needs for his budget plan.

Stay tuned.

Snow or Cold, which would you rather?

I have said many times that one of the very few perks of the bizarre hours I work is that I usually have the road to myself - aside from my four-legged Bambi friends, that is.

We are supposed to get some snow this morning.

It sounds like we once again will miss the brunt of the flakes, which could rack up 3-6 inches in southern Delaware and South Jersey. Here in the Philly region, we're looking at probably only a coating to at most an inch.

The problem is the timing - not for me, for you.

The snow is expected to arrive here just in time for the morning rush hour, likely starting around 7 a.m. and continuing through the morning commute.

Here's the latest forecast:

Which leads me to a question that struck me last night when I heard the news that Boston has officially cleared the 100-inch mark for snow this brutal winter.

The truth is we haven't had it that bad this year in terms of snow, at least compared to last year. It has, however, been much colder.

So here's my question, I guess you could call it the lesser of two evils, at least if you hate winter as much as I do.

What would you rather, all that snow from last year, or the brutal cold that has had us in its icy tentacles all month?

I think you know where I stand. I'll take the cold over the snow any day.

Want some even better news?

Our friends at AccuWeather say March will bring with it some milder temperatures next week.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Feb. 25

The Daily Numbers: 2 hours, how long it took a jury in Texas to convict the former Marine in the shooting death of ‘American Sniper’ Chris Kyle and a friend.

6 to 23 months in prison for a former supervisor of Community Services who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two female clients.

5 to 10 more years tacked onto his sentence for a Chester man who was already in jail for the stabbing death of his mother.

3,240 jars of peanut butter and 100 loaves of bread donated by the Giant supermarket in Havertown to Philabundance for their food efforts in the region.

29,160 sandwiches that are expected to be created for the hungry through the donation.

204,000 dollars authorities allege was ‘churned’ from two elderly sisters by an insurance man from Drexel Hill.

50 years of Neumann University lauded by Aston Township commissioners.

13 million dollars in donations to THON mocked by ESPN commentator Keith Olbermann in another Twitter war with Penn State backers. He’s now going to be off the air for the rest of the week.

2 billion dollar deficit that is on the mind of new Gov. Tom Wolf as he readies his budget message to be delivered next Tuesday. He still wants to get more money for education and is hinting at tax hikes, as well as that severance tax on natural gas drillers.

375,000 broadband customers added by Comcast in the last quarter.

1.93 billion dollars in earnings for Comcast in the quarter, up slightly from last year.

4-1 loss for the Flyers to the Hurricanes last night. Bad one since the Bruins also lost.

4 points behind Bruins, where Flyers still sit in race for last playoff spot.

31 saves for backup goalie Rob Zepp.

89-61 win for Villanova over Providence.

25, where the Friars were ranked before getting blown out by the No. 6 Wildcats.

48-37 win for Penncrest boys over Academy Park in playback game to win spot in PIAA tourney.

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

Providence had scratched their way into the Top 25 before arriving on the Main Line last night. But they were no match for the No. 6 Wildcats.

I Don’t Get It: Keith Olbermann’s latest Twitter war with Penn State students and alums. He’s way over the line on this one.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the folks at Giant supermarket in Havertown. They’re donating a ton of peanut butter for the region’s effort to help feed the needy by Philabundance.

Quote Box: “I apologize for that. I have no excuse for it.”

- Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, on misrepresenting his service record.

'Live From the Newsroom' takes a look at the lives behind those names on the Delco Veterans Memorial

On a windy, frigid corner just off bustling West Chester Pike in Newtown Square, there stands a testament to the backbone of Delaware County.

It is the county's newest monument and a fitting salute to those who served, and who often paid dearly for that service. It is the Delaware County Veterans Memorial.

It contains the names - etched in stone - of every Delaware County resident who died in the line of duty, offering up his life in service to his country.

Having been there several times, I can tell you it's a moving experience.

But something else has been happening behind the scenes of the memorial. As you gaze at each of the names carved into the surface, you begin to ask yourself who they were.

Where did this young man or woman come from? Did he have brothers and sisters? Was he from a long line of family members who served. It turns out I'm not the only one to ask such questions.

While doing the research to gather the names of those wh

o fell on the battlefields, several people who have been at the center of the push to have the monument built had similar feelings. Among them was longtime Newtown Supervisor Linda Houldin, a founding member of the monument committee and head of the Delaware County Veterans Memorial Education Committee. That was the genesis of one of the very special parts of the memorial.

Houldin approached West Chester University History Professor Robert Kodosky. The collaborative project that was hatched involved using college students to bring the names on the memorial wall to life.

Tonight our live-stream Internet broadcast, 'Live From the Newsroom' will visit with Kodosky and Houldin and hopefully some of the young students to talk about the project.

The memorial's Education Committee is now working with kids from first grade through the university level, in effect passing the torch of knowledge of those who served their country from one generation to another.

They'll talk about the digging it took, the research to first just get the names of those whose names appear on the memorial, let alone the background that makes every one of them such a compelling story. Even before construction on the memorial began, a team was deeply involved in the research stage, going through county, university and historical records to pull together these deserving names for the Wall of Honor.

But the researchers faced the same haunting question after tracking down the names. Who were these heroes?

Professor Kodosky's class turned out to be the perfect pilot tie-in.

Students researched the names and developed their stories. Their work is now an intricate part of one of the guiding principle's of the memorial effort: Using it as a living living history monument for students of all schools (public, private, charter, cyber) from grades 1 through 12 in conjunction with the Delco Historical Society.

Join us tonight at 7 at for a very special look at the lives of some true Delaware County heroes.

If you have a question about the memorial - or any of the names that are displayed on it - email it to me at and I will bring it up during our discussion.

New home needed for Mickey Vernon Sports Museum

The push to find a new home for the Mickey Vernon Sports Museum continues.

As longtime local author and sports writer Rich Westcott noted in his Monday op-ed piece, the county is in danger of losing this treasure trove of local sports memorabilia.

That's because the museum is currently located in the Granite Run Mall. But its lease is up in March and will not be renewed because the mall is about to undergo a massive change. Basically, everything but the two remaining anchor stores, Sears and Boscov's, will go under the wrecking ball, making way for a new town center mix of residential and retail uses.

That leaves the museum looking for a new home.

I took up the issue in my blog on Monday, asking readers for their help and seeking suggestions where the museum might end up. Many people wondered if the YMCA, either at their Lansdowne or Ridley facilities, could house the collection.

We'll keep pushing because the county cannot afford to lose this signature place.

Let's save the Mickey Vernon Museum!

The best team in town: Go 'Cats

Providence had managed to scratch its way into the Top 25 in the AP men's college hoops ranking.

So I was very interested to see how Villanova - sitting with that lofty No. 6 ranking would react to a bruising encounter with a Big East rival.

The Wildcats did not leave many questions unanswered in the Pavilion on the Main Line last night in blasting the Friars, 89-61. Villanova put on a clinic in dismantling Providence, sprinting to a 9-0 lead to start the game and never looking back.

You know you're on to something when the opposing coach can't stop talking about how impressed he was. Jack McCaffery today details the reaction of Providence coach Ed Cooley, who was converted into a huge Villanova booster while watching them dismantle his squad.

Terry Toohey has all the game details.

This Villanova team has "special" written all over it.

The challenge now will be to live up their expectations. This is not the Cinderella 1985 team that pulled one of the biggest upsets of all time in blitzing through the NCAA tournament and then doing their best 'David vs. Goliath' act in toppling Georgetown.

No, this Villanova squad could be a No. 1 seed and a favorite to reach the Final Four.

Pretty simply, right now they're the best team in town.

And I'm including the Phillies, Flyers, Sixers and Chip Kelly's bunch in that equation.

Anyone care to argue?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Feb. 24

The Daily Numbers: 1 degree, what my odometer said it was when I got in the car this morning.

0, what it hit during the ride into work.

8 degrees, what AccuWeather said we’re at at 7:45 a.m.

24, today’s high temperature.

777,456 cubic feet of natural gas used for home heating on Feb. 15, setting a new record, according to PECO. That shattered the previous mark of 759,660 cubic feet used last Jan. 7, 2014, during the Polar Vortex.

10 days to start March which are supposed to track colder than normal.

2 families who have filed suit against Southeast Delco School District and former teacher Paul Hochschwender in connection with ‘inappropriate touching.’

224,000 dollar grant that will likely preserve the Little Flower Manor site in Darby Borough as open space.

4 years probation for a Ridley Park man in connection with his role in a hit-run case.

2 city firefighters who suffered minior injuries while battle a house blaze on West 10th Street yesterday.

15-10 vote by a state House panel on a bill to privatize liquor sales in Pennsylvania.

1,200 additional liquor licenses that would be granted under the plan. Existing state stores would be phased out.

1,800 privately owned stores that will likely pop up to take their place.

605 state stores in the current system that generate more than $2.24 billion in revenue.

2,028 full-time state store workers who could lose their jobs.

4-1 vote by Concord planners last night in favor of a highly controversial plan to develop a patch of open space on what is known as the Beaver Valley.

230 acres of a 318-acre parcel that could be developed.

163 new homes that could be sprouting on the open space.

8 months, how long an Upper Darby woman has been missing. Family and friends are desperate for any word on whereabouts of Amanda De Guio.

220 billion dollar discrimination lawsuit filed against Comcast.

119-108 loss for the Sixers in Miami to the Heat last night.

29 points for Luol Deng.

51-39 loss for the Garnet Valley girls to Abington last night, putting the Jags into the playback bracket in District One play.

57-52 win for Sun Valley girls over Lower Moreland.

67-51 win for Glen Mills over Bishop Shanahan.

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

Chase Utley says he is still dealing with the effects of an ankle sprain. Why don’t I like the sound of that?

I Don’t Get It: What happened to Nate Allen. I don’t get it. Can someone offer the Eagle an apology?

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those involved with gathering state funds to preserve Little Flower Manor as an open tract in Darby Borough.

Quote Box: “Shame on you."

- Chant of residents in audience as the Concord planners voted to approve development of a tract in the Beaver Valley.

Someone owes Nate Allen an apology

Forget Brian Williams.

And Bill O'Reilly, too, for that matter.

Want to discuss a real media problem? Talk to Nate Allen.

Allen, for those of you who are not sports fans, has been a starting safety for the Eagles the past couple of years. He's been part of a secondary that has had more than its share of issues.

I can admit to being one of his biggest critics.

None of that compares to what happened to him last week.

Allen was in his home town of Fort Myers, Fla., when he was detained by police for four hours. I won't go into the nasty nature of the allegations that swirled around Allen. Suffice it to say they were not exactly complimentary.

Here's what you need to know. Allen was never charged with a crime. He was merely picked up and questioned by police.

That did not stop his name from being splashed all over social media as many media sites, newspapers, radio and TV in connection with this sordid tale.

Yesterday a court in Florida ruled that Allen could not possibly have been the perpetrator that was described in the incident. Turns out he happened to be driving a pickup truck that was similar to another one that may have been involved.

The court cleared Allen of any involvement in the incident.

That's easier said than done.

For me, it once again brings to mind the story of former Labor Secretary Ray Donovan, who after being acquitted of various charges had a simple request: "Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?"

The cruel answer is this: You don't.

At least Donovan had a trial. Allen was never even charged. That did not stop his name from being dragged through the mud in connection with the worst sort of charges. Allen's name was right there, along with the allegation, despite the fact that he was never charged. Today news travels in a heartbeat. I do it every morning, pushing information to readers on Twitter, and posting stories to our website.

I get calls every day from people alleging that so-and-so did this or that and why hasn't there been anything in the paper about it. I always respond the same way: Have any charges been filed? I usually know the answer. The silence on the other end of the line confirms it. Our policy is pretty simple: No charges, no story.

Someone owes Nate Allen an apology.

At least for today, spring remains only a rumor

Mother Nature is such a tease.

First she gave us that awful Saturday, with snow arriving before noon and making afternoon driving an adventure.

But then she offered something of an olive branch with a delightful Sunday afternoon, with almost a hint of spring in the air as a brilliant sun melted a lot of that snow.

A couple of things put a smile on my face on Sunday. First, I actually heard some birds chirping. Second, I did something I have not in months. I actually cracked the window in the car. That's how nice it was.

Then yesterday I saw an update from our weather partner. The folks at AccuWeather declared that relief from this cold weather might be on the way, that temperatures could in fact ease up in March.

The problem, as I discovered this morning, is that March - and the possibility of it coming in like a lamb - does not arrive until Sunday.

This morning I was jarred when I walked out the door at just how cold it was. I had to take a second glace at the odometer when the thermometer told me it was 1 degree out. After I got out onto the road, it actually once again hit the 0 degree mark, before rallying to 3 degrees as I got closer to the office.

Want an idea at just how cold February has been? PECO yesterday checked in with some heating numbers for the past couple of weeks. They aren't pretty.

PECO says the bitter cold caused a record-breaking demand for natural gas by their heating customers. On Feb. 15 customer demand for natural gas totaled 777,456 cubic feet and on Feb.19, natural gas demand totaled 766,365 cubic feet, surpassing the previous all-time winter daily total of 759,660 Mcf set during the Polar Vortex on Jan. 7, 2014.

It got me to thinking about last winter, and just how miserable it was.

This winter has actually been colder, but I'll take the cold over all that snow. Still, I'm ready for spring.

And I continue to dread one thing, and PECO is right in the middle of it.

Any day now I am going to get my electric bill for the last month. I live in an all-electric house that is heated with an electric heat pump. They're great, except for when it gets really cold. That's when they switch over to "emergency" heat, and the cost goes through the roof.

Speaking of heating records, I figure I am in store for a shocker from Reddy Killowatt.

I can only hope that AccuWeather is right, and that relief is around the corner. But first we have to get through this week, which will continue to feature near-record lows almost every morning.

Here's the latest forecast.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Feb. 23

The Daily Numbers: 466, as in House Bill 466, the latest push to privatize booze sales in Pa. It will be voted on by House committee today.

12,527 liquor law offenses in 2013. Those do not include DUIs. The number is down 13 percent from 2012.

5 billion dollars in Transportation Improvement Programs on tap in Delco with a big boost in that fund created by the Transportation package passed last fall.

30 dollar per car toll being considered to attack infrastructure problems in Missouri.

100 students evacuated from dorm at Cheyney University after police say was an intentionally set fire.

4 people hurt after car collides with CSX train in Darby Borough.

10,000 members and 23,000 individuals at the new Haverford YMCA, which is causing parking problems.

4-0 vote by commissioners to allow zoning changes to allow more parking at the facility.

3 dollar hike in price of admission to Disneyland in Calif. It will now cost $99, up from $96.

105 dollars to get into Disney World in Floa., up from $99.

120 single homes and 230 townhouses at heart of development planned for Don Guanella property in Marple.

3-2 win for Flyers over Capitals on late goal by Michael Del Zotto.

103-98 loss for the Sixers to Orlando.

31 points and 14 rebounds for Nick Vucevic, who was drafted by the Sixers.

55-39 loss for Temple at Tulsa.

68-64 setback for La Salle vs. Saint Louis.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Raise your hand if you’re becoming a big Villanova fan. They look like our only chance of good sports news.

I Don’t Get It: Still not sure I get Cole Hamels.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to State House Speaker Mike Turzai, who is taking up the battle for liquor privatization again today.

Quote Box: “It’s almost a laughable offense.”

- State Rep. Joe Hackett, R-161, on laws making it illegal to buy booze out of state and bring it back into Pa.

Liquor privatization issue heats up again

Mike Turzai is looking like a guy who will not take no for an answer.

Last year Allegheny Republican was the driving force behind something that had never happened before in Harrisburg. Turzai pushed a measure through the Pa. House that called for privatization of the sale of alcohol in the state.

That's right, it's been talked about forever. But neither the Pa. House or Senate had ever done it. Until last fall.

Unfortunately, the bill stalled in the Senate, in part a victim to wheeling and dealing surrounding a $2 billion Transportation package.

Now Turzai is Speaker of the House. And it's clear he has no intention of giving up on this push to get Pensylvania out of the booze business.

The House Liquor Control Committee today is expected to discuss and vote on Turzai's House Bill 466, his latest push to blow up the LCB. Here is an overview.

In the meantime, a couple of Delaware County pols are pushing a separate measure that will dump one of the most hated aspects of Pennsylvania laws on alcohol sales.

Currently it is illegal for Pa. residents to purchase booze out of state and bring it back across the border, despite the fact that this is a longtime tradition in many border areas.

Nowhere does that happen more than on the Delco border with Delaware. Just a stone's throw from the lower end of the county sits several liquor and wine superstores, such as Total Wine, in Claymont, Del., that feature better selection and usually cheaper prices. Any quick perusal of the license plates in the store parking lot reveals tons of Pa. plates.

In the past, the LCB actually used to go so far as to dispatch agents to stop cars coming back into Pa. The fines for this modern-day version of border booze runners can be steep.

Now Rep. Joe Hackett, R-161

, of Ridley Park, and Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, are pushing to take away the fines connected with such border runs. Our position on privatization is pretty clear. The Heron's Nest is one of its biggest boosters. I don't know if Turzai is going to be successful, but I wish him luck.

At a minimum, the move to end the penalties for transporting booze across state lines should be a no-brainer.

We'll keep you updated on the privatization battle today from the state capital.

Save the Mickey Vernon Museum!

Delaware County is about to lose a true treasure.

With most of the Granite Run Mall about to go under the wrecking ball, tenants are looking at having to relocate.

One of those just happens to be one of the county's true gems. That would be the Mickey Vernon Museum, home to a treasure trove of Delco sports memorabilia.

We like to brag about our sports section here at the Daily Times as "Delaware County's Sports Authority." We've contributed a lot to the museum, making it a "must visit" for any local sports fan.

Now the museum needs a new home.

Longtime local author and sports writer Rich Westcott does a great job of bringing this issue to the public on our op-ed page today.

Now we need to find a home for the museum.

I know that Delaware County can do this. What's needed are some ideas.

What do you think, Delco? We can't afford to let this local treasure disappear. Let's save the Mickey Vernon Museum!

Your morning report from the icy roads

This morning we are paying the price for that beautiful thaw we had Sunday afternoon.

Anything that melted has now frozen over again.

The main roads that I traveled on my early a.m. commute were fine, but I can tell you that there is a lot of standing water out there, and it has all frozen solid. That would include sidewalks and parking lots. If you see something that looks wet, you can pretty much count on it being ice.

The real problem is on side roads, especially in spots where melting snow has run across the road. The dropping temperatures overnight has turned those little streams of water into solid ice. If you happen to hit one of them - especially on a turn as I do at several spots - can be a problem.

Still, I have to admit that after spending Sunday morning digging out from Saturday's snow storm and clearing the end of the driveway where the snow plow piled so much of the snow, Sunday afternoon was almost like a harbinger of spring.

As I walked into the house Sunday afternoon after a trip to the grocery store, I actually heard birds chirping.

Spring can't be far behind.

Unfortunately, it's not going to get here this week.

We're looking at another cold week.

Here's the latest forecast.

Be careful out there on the roads this morning.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Feb. 20

The Daily Numbers: 47, as in Act 47, the state law that places struggling towns under state control Colwyn officials wan the state to take over their town.

68 signatures on a petition seeking the move.

200,000 in unpaid bills in the borough.

1 degree, the record low for this date. We’re expected to threaten in.

-14 wind chill, what it actually feels like.

33 degrees the high for Saturday, a veritable heat wave.

2.5 percent tax hike in the preliminary budget plan for Garnet Valley School District.

2 men who now face charges connected to series of break-ins of cars in parking lots of Planet Fitness outlets.

500,000 Wal-Mart workers who are getting raises.

3-2 shootout loss for the Flyers last night vs the Sabres.

4 1st round draft picks for the Sixers this year.

12-41 record for the Sixers.

40-28 loss for Carroll girls to the No. 1 team in the country, Neumann-Goretti.

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

If anyone knows what the Sixers are trying to do, feel free to let the rest of us know.

I Don’t Get It: San Hinkie. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper:
Kudos to all the kids at Penn State as they prepare to kick off their annual THON fundraiser.

Quote Box: “Colwyn’s governance is ineffective at best.” - Report on borough of Colwyn management.

The Delco GOP vs. Vince Rongione

Andy Reilly says he feels 'vindicated.'

The chairman of the Delaware County Republican Party was referring to a plea deal entered into this week by Vince Rongione, the Democratic candidate in last fall's hotly contested 163rd state House race to replace the legendary state Rep. Nick Micozzie in Harrisburg.

Rongione lost to Republican Upper Darby Council member Jamie Santora.

Along the way Rongione came under attack from the Delco GOP. Reilly and several GOP officials held a press conference on the front lawn of a home on Wilson Drive in Havertown, claiming Rongione was in violation of state election laws and had signed bogus affidavits in order to claim residency in the 163rd District.

"This is vindication of our complaints that Rongione knowingly and deliberately violated the Pennsylvania Constitution and election law by attempting to establish a bogus residency," Reilly said in a statement he emailed to me. "We always maintained that in pursuing his candidacy, Vince Rongione committed voter fraud and signed election documents that he knew to be false."

That's not exactly the way Rongione's attorney, Art Donato, sees it.

"My own view is that people shouldn't be charged with a crime unless there's clear evidence that they intended to commit one, and I don't think there was any intent at all in this case," Donato said.

The lawyer said he advised Rongione to accept the plea deal because it would allow him to enter the ARD program for first-time, non-violent offenders, and will allow for dismissal of the charges when Rongione completes the program.

He was sentenced to six months of supervision, 16 hours of community service and a $40 monthly fee for the length of the program.

While Reilly said he had no problem with the ARD disposition of the case, he was not buying Donato's explanation, and he wanted to let me know it. He said he was disappointed that he had not been given the opportunity to counter Donato's comments after the plea deal was reached in court.

I'll let the two of them quibble over that point.

But there is something odd about this case.

We first learned about it when Rongione entered the plea to two misdemeanor violations of the Pennsylvania Election Code on Wednesday.

But the charges were actually filed against Rongione by Delaware County Detective Robert Lythgoe on Feb. 11.

There was no press conference to announce the charges, and to the best of my knowledge, no press release was issued. Reilly said he was not aware of the charges until he learned about the plea deal the night before the story appeared in the Daily Times.

I can tell you that's not the way this usually works. We usually do a story when the charges are filed, then follow up with the adjudication of the case in court.

The case was not handled by the Delco D.A.'s office, but rather by special prosecutor Joe McGettigan.

No doubt part of what steamed Reilly is that back in the fall, a lot of people believed he was just playing politics and making a mountain out of a molehill in terms of Rongione's residence.

Donato maintains he was ready to dispute the allegations.

"I think everyone would agree that this was a totally unintentional thing that happened here," he said. "I think Vince thought he had, in good conscience, established a residency, and there was some dispute about that."

Reilly was having none of it.

He labeled the story as "laughable," adding it failed to "pass the smell test."

"His attorney is attempting to whitewash Rongione's clearly deliberate actions," Reilly said.

One of the reasons Reilly reached out to me was that he was somewhat taken aback that he was not offered the chance to counter Donato's comments in the story. He also couldn't resist pointing out that the Daily Times endorsed Rongione over Santora.

Vindication is yours, Mr. Chairman.

Can someone tell me what the Sixers are doing?

I'd like to say I understand what Sam Hinkie is doing with the Sixers, that he is some kind of diabolical genius who somehow is going to wheel and deal his way to an NBA title.

The truth is I don't have a clue what he's trying to do.

I just hope he does.

What I do know is that the reigning NBA rookie of the year is no longer a part of the Sixers plan.

Yesterday the dealt Michael Carter-Williams in a bizarre series of trade deadline deals that saw Hinkie continue his penchant for amassing draft picks.

The Sixers now have four 1st-round picks in the upcoming NBA Draft.

Unless, of course, Hinkie decides to trade away some of them as well.

One thing is pretty clear in the rubble of another roster demolition by the Sixers. They did not think Carter-Williams was part of the answer.

Dealing him away will almost certainly improve their chances of losing even more games, thus improving their draft status. But at some point don't you want to actually field a team that will compete.

Ironically enough, the Sixers rolled out a new slogan yesterday.

"This Starts Now."

Not for Carter-Williams. Who's next? Nerlins Noel?

What Hinkie and the Sixers are telling their fans is that the rock they've been pushing up that hill, just rolled back to the bottom. Sisyphus had nothing on these guys.

What does 0 degrees feel like?

I was dreading walking outside this morning.

But the truth is, I can't really tell the difference between 10 degrees and 0 degrees. All I know is that it is cold.

Once I managed to get behind the wheel, I was interested in seeing what the thermometer in the odometer would register.

Once the cranky engine turned over, I found out.

It displayed a love 0 degrees.

After I got out on the road, it actually clicks down to -2. Eventually it recovered and for the most part of the ride it settled in at 0.

The record low for the day is 1 degree. Most of the numbers I have heard indicate we likely will not shatter that mark. For some reason, that does not exactly warm my heart.

Spring has to be out there somewhere.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Feb. 19

The Daily Numbers: 9 to 23 months in prison for a Ridley Park woman charged in a hit-run accident that cost a local teenager his leg.

3,000 dollars withdrawn from a Knights of Columbus bank account that has former Marcus Hook Mayor James Schiliro in troubele with the law again.

6 months of supervision, 16 hours of community service and $40 fine for Democratic state House candidate Vince Rongione as he enters ARD program on Election Code violations.

14 degrees out there this frosty a.m.

0 degrees, the expected low on Friday.

1 degree, the record low, set in 1979.

1,068 requests to AAA for roadside service on Tuesday.

497 of those calls were battery-related.

75,000 dollar cash bail for Media man charged in double-fatal DUI crash in Chester County. He also faces drug charges.

2 counts of homicide by vehicle while under the influence slapped on Thomas Muir, 25, of Media.

2 siblings from Downingtown were killed in the crash on Route 100.

1 member of of rapper Nicki Minaj’s road crew fatally stabbed in an altercation outside a Philly bar. Another member of the crew was wounded.

1 man dead, another hospitalized in stabbing at a Montco meat-packing plant.

471,000 in Pennsylvania who signed up for health care during the most recent sign-up period under the Affordable Care Act.

200 million dollars in cuts looming at Campbell Soup. Those will include some job eliminations.

4.5 million dollar, 2-year extension for Flyers defenseman Nick Schultz.

55-47 loss for Chester to Abington last night in District One hoops.

49-35 setback for Springfield to Plymouth Whitemarsh

61-58 loss for Archbishop Carroll to Roman Catholic in Catholic League semifinal.

47-36 loss for Penncrest boys to Lower Merion.

54-31 loss for Academy Park to Contestoga.

52-48 win for the Garnet Valley girls over Cheltenham.

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

Two best words of winter are here: Pitchers & Catchers.

I Don’t Get It: Felt absolutely balmy out there yesterday afternoon in the sun. Tomorrow morning we are headed for 0 degrees. Lovely.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Father Ben Wallis, who took the tradition of ashes on Ash Wednesday to the streets as he placed ashes on foreheads of commuters at the busy Shadeland Avenue trolley stop in Upper Darby yesterday.

Quote Box: “I just want to win.”

- Cole Hamels, talking to USA Today, on why he wants to be traded.

Another hidden Delco gem: The College Access Center

I had a most pleasant surprise waiting for me when I walked into Freedom Hall on the Widener campus last night.

We were there to do our Wednesday night 'Live From the Newsroom' show. Last night we focused on a really great program that's been developed to help kids and families deal with the epic challenge of getting into - and paying for - college.

The College Access Center is located at Widener and is the result of a consortium of some of the best local minds in the education biz from Widener, Swarthmore, Neumann, DCCC, Cheyney and Penn State Brandywine.

My surprise was two of the young students who are taking advantage of the programs offered by the College Access Center.

I had already met Tamira Sharrod and Rickwane Dunn. They are both seniors at Drexel Neumann Academy. I visited there last week to speak to the classes for Catholic Schools Week.

Tamira plans to attend the University of Scranton and focus on health administration. Rickwane is headed for West Chester University and will be taking up pre-med. We also were joined by Jamie McDowell, a senior at the STEM Academy in Chester Upland. She will be attending Hampton University in Virginia in the fall, majoring in Sociology/Communications.

I see big things in the future from all these kids. And a big part of that future is being built by the College Access Center.

Executive Director Julani Ghana gave an overview of the services offered and urged kids and their families from all across Delaware County to take advantage of this huge resource that can help with one of life's more bewildering topics, navigating the college selection process.

Ghana notes that after starting six years ago, the College Access Center is now helping 4,000 students a year with everything from preparing for the SATs with a tutoring and prep program, to applying to colleges, to rooting out financial aid.

It's something every kid should take advantage of here in Delaware County.

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

Hamels puts a splotch on a very special day

Cole Hamels is pushing his luck.

Today is one of the best days of winter. Why? Two words: Pitchers & Catchers.

As we continue to shiver in this miserable cold, the sight of the Phillies in Clearwater is enough to warm your heart.

So of course Hamels decides to throw a little cold water on our case of spring fever.

I have this policy about the guys who played on the 2008 Phils.

You will never hear me say a bad word about them. Ryan Howard whiffs again with a runner in scoring position? It happens. Chase Utley boots a routine grounder? Get 'em next time. Jimmy Rollins fails to run out an infield fly? I understand.

Why this stance from a guy who is notoriously critical of the home teams?

This one is easy.

I can actually sum this one up in one word: Parade.

The 2008 Phillies gave us a parade. Hamels, Rollins - now departed for the warmer climes in L.A. - Howard and Utley won a World Series title and gave us a party to remember.

Hamels is not a happy camper.

The Phils apparently were unable to move him in the offseason, and now he's letting everyone know he'd just as soon move on. Hamels told USA Today yesterday: "I just want to win."

I can't really say I blame him, but here's the thing.

Hamels wasn't saying that when he signed that megabuck contract, making him the most expensive pitcher in Phillies history, a few years back.

These athletes never do. That's the way it works.

Hamels said the Phillies recent tailspin took him by surprise. That would make him one of the few.

"When I signed my contract, the Phi8llies told me they would contend. They told me they would contend every year. But things happen." Yes, and what Hamels wants to happen now is a trade. There is very little chance Hamels will finish this season with the Phils. That is if Ruben Amaro Jr. can't move him during spring training. The asking price is apparently sky-high, as it should be, and there are not a lot of takers, since most teams rightly figure the Phils are going to wind up dealing Hamels anyhow.

Fans don't get that option.

They sit on their porch on sticky, humid nights listening to their team on the radio.

Actually, right now that doesn't sound that bad.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Feb. 18

The Daily Numbers: 5.1 inches of snow in Drexel Hill yesterday. That was tops in Delco.

5.0 inches in Ridley Park.

6.5 down in Woodside, in Kent County, Del.

6.1 inches in Egg Harbor, N.J.

7 inches in Cape May.

5.5 inches in Levittown.

15 degrees at 8 a.m.

30 degrees, our expected high for the day.

7 months, age of little Hamza Ali, whose whereabouts remain unknown.

32, age of Ummad Rushdi, who faces trial in the case.

2nd degree murder, what Arkel Garcia was convicted of in the killing of Marple Newtown grad Christian Massey for his expensive headphones.

120 single family homes, 230 townhouses being proposed for the Don Guanella property on Route 320 in Marple. And that’s not all. Here’s what else is in the plans:

150 room hotel.

55,000-square-foot movie complex.

80,000 square foot rec complex

16-pump fueling station at a convenience store.

150,000 square feet of office space

square feet of retail space.

2 counts of extortion, what former Pa. Treasurer Rob McCord pleaded guilty to yesterday.

3 million gallons of fuel oil on a train that is burning after a crash and derailment in West Virginia.

35 years ago, when the U.S. ice hockey team pulled off the ‘Miracle on Ice,’ winning the gold medal at Lake Placid.

5-2 loss for the Flyers to the Blue Jackets at the Wells Fargo Center last night.

1,000th game for former Flyer Scott Hartnell.

9-game point streak snapped for the Flyers in their playoffs push.

57-40 win for Ridley over Great Valley in District One boys hoops play

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

The Flyers’ playoff chances just took a big hit with that loss to the Blue Jackets last night.

I Don’t Get It: Someone get me out of this weather. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those people who are helping their neighbors out with shoveling. That’s being part of the community.

Quote Box: “It would be our position that the commonwealth would e seeking a penalty that can’t be imposed.”

- Attorney Scott Galloway, in opposing push for death penalty for Ummad Rushdi.

Wolf's death penalty moratorium reverberates in Delco

It didn't take long for new Gov. Tom Wolf's moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania to cause some reverberations.

The Democrat has been under fire from lawmen and prosecutors since making his announcement on Friday. Wolf said the Pennsylvania system of capital punishment was "error prone, expensive and anything but infallible."

He ordered a halt to the death penalty until he receives a report from a legislative committee that has been studying the issue and taking testimony for the last four years.

Now the convulsions from Wolf's edict are shaking some local courthouses.

The lawyers for a York County man charged in the death of a 7-month-old baby in Upper Darby indicated yesterday they would file motions to preclude the Delaware County District Attorney's Office from seeking the death penalty in the case, as they have stated they would. Ummad Rushdi faces trial in the death of little Hamza Ali, whose body has never been recovered.

Mike Malloy, Rushdi's trial lawyer, and Scott Galloway, who will handle the death penalty phase, specifically referred to Wolf's moratorium.

Now it appears there will be a legal argument concerning whether the governor's position can prevent prosecutors from even seeking the death penalty, let alone see one carried out.

"It would be our position that the commonwealth would be seeking a penalty that can't be imposed," Galloway said.

You can get all the details here.

Ashes to Go

If you're in the vicinity of the Shadeland Avenue trolley stop today, you might be able to take part in a unique Ash Wednesday event.

Today is the day Christians mark the beginning of 40 days of Lent by placing ashes in the form of a cross on their foreheads.

It reminds us of our human nature, that we are in fact dust and one day will return to dust. Hopefully not for awhile, though. It's part of the penitence and sacrifice that is so much a part of the Lenten tradition.

The problem often can be that our busy lives get in the way of much of the sacrifice, including getting to church to get ashes. Well, Incarnation Holy Sacrament Church, at the corner of Shadeland Avenue and Garrett Road in Upper Darby might have just the solution.

The church rector plans to be at the Shadeland Avenue trolley stop at 7:30 a.m. handing out what they are calling "Ashes to Go." Father Benjamin Wallis will literally be doing ashes at the trolley stop.

With the temperatures we've been having, I hope he's dressed in something other than vestments.

We'll be there to detail this novel Ash Wednesday celebration.

Curses! I'm swearing off snacks for Lent

The newsroom should be a bit more tranquil place for the next 40 days.

Yes, I will once again don sack cloth and ashes and observe my very own Lenten sacrifice. I am once again swearing off swearing. That's right. No more blue streaks emanating from the editor's office. I'm not proud of it, but the truth is I can cuss with the best of them.

Of course, my favorite is a particular four-letter word that is among the most versatile in the English language. No more F-Bombs. My crusade likely will be a tad more challenging this year. That's because my colorful vocabulary is not the only thing undergoing some changes for the next 40 days. My diet will, as well.

In the past, I have often given up alcohol for Lent. I'm disturbed, not insane. That's not happening this year. I also dabbled with the notion of actually trying to give up coffee, but I didn't think we needed the spectacle of the editor on the roof of the newspaper threatening to take hostages.

This one was inspired by my long-suffering wife. She fears for my health. And to that end, she has encouraged me to change my eating habits, one in particular.

I think it's time for a confession.

I'm a potato chip junkie.

My co-workers likely will be somewhat dubious about this claim. Most of them wonder if I ever eat anything, aside from my daily banana ritual at lunch.

It's true, I don't really eat very much when I'm in the office. I can't tell you the last time I've actually taken a lunch break, sat down at a table, and ate what most people consider a normal part of their day - lunch.

Instead I usually try to wolf something down at my desk while banging away on the keyboard.

The result is I'm usually fairly ravenous when I get home. This is where 'Mr. Chips' gets involved. My normal routine is to walk in the house and make a beeline for the drawer where we keep the snacks.

I immediately grab the bag of Herr's potato chips (is there really any other kind?) and start stuffing them in my face. Often this happens even before I take off my coat.

My wife has been reminding me for months this is not an especially healthy lifestyle (Is there anything about the newspaper racket that is?).

I blame my boyhood pal, Ed Herr. Yes, I went to school and claim as a friend that giant face that appears on all the billboards hawking Herr's snack products.

So here is my challenge. For Lent this year, no more chips. In fact, I'm going to try to swear off the salty snacks altogether - pretzels, Lance crackers, Pepperidge Goldfish, tortilla chips (with salsa, of course).

Pass the carrots and celery sticks.

Wish me luck. I already feel like cursing a blue streak.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Feb. 17

The Daily Numbers: 3 inches of snow reported in Upper Darby.

3.5 inches in Ridley Park

4 inches in Drexel Hill

14 degrees at 6 a.m.

3 degrees, yesterday’ low temperature.

2 degrees, the record low, set in 1888.

430 PennDOT trucks out working on the roads.

120 flights delayed or canceled at Philly International Airport.

10 a.m. late opening for the Delaware County Courthouse.

2 siblings from Downingtown killed in 2-vehicle crash on Route 100 Saturday night.

25, age of Media man who now faces DUI charges in connection with the crash.

4 vehicle crash on Route 1 near Riddle Hospital yesterday afternoon.

2.56 percent tax hike in preliminary budget in Wallingford-Swarthmore.

10,000 dollars raised for Community Action Agency by 400 young athletes on MLK Day in Hoops From Heart event.

68, age of singer Lesley Gore, who scored a No. 1 hit in 1963 with the classic of teen angst, ‘It’s My Party.’

93, age of actor Louis Jourdan, who starred in ‘Gigi.’ He died yesterday.

80-54 blowout win for Villanova over Seton Hall.

7 straight wins for the Wildcats.

24-2 record for ‘Nova, 11-2 in the Big East.

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

Villanova took some revenge for an earlier upset loss to Seton Hall by pounding the Pirates last night on the Main Line.

I Don’t Get It: Even when they’re conservative, our local broadcasters blow out. So the storm is going to be mostly south of us in Delaware and New Jersey? That will come as news to commuters this morning.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who took part in the Hoops for Hope campaign on the MLK holiday. They raised #10,000 for one of th

e best organizations in the county, the Community Action Agency. Quote Box: “The reckless acts of this defendant have destroyed a family.”

- Chester County Assistant D.A. Charles Gaza, on DUI charges filed against a Delaware County man in crash that killed two Downingtown siblings and seriously injured their parents.

Your morning report from the roads

Well, here's a prediction:

This morning's rush hour is going to be a nightmare.

Take it from someone who just drove in - the roads are very slick.

Again, one of the very few perks of the hours that I work is that there are very few people on the roads when I am driving. That proved to be a godsend this morning.

All the roads I traveled are snow-covered. But that's not the real problem. The issue for drivers is that because it has been so cold, the snow is very slick.

And here is the real crunch - and I mean that literally. Stopping is almost impossible. If the light changes in front of you and you are driving too fast, you have no chance of stopping. I know, I just slid through several of them. Again, I'm thankful no one is on the road when I am.

All the major roads are snow-covered, including West Chester Pike, Route 320, Springfield Road, Baltimore Pike and Oak Avenue were all covered with snow.

I'm not sure where the weather folks got their forecast, but this idea that the real heavy snow was going to stay south and east of us did not seem to materialize.

There is a good 3-4 inches of snow out there.

You can get where you are going, but it is going to be a slog. And please reduce your speed. If you don't and you find yourself needing to make a quick stop, you are going to be out of luck.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Feb. 16

The Daily Numbers: -1, what temperature gauge in my odometer registered this morning.

0 degrees at 6:45 a.m., according to Accuweather.

2 degrees, record low for the date set backin 1888.

3 degrees at 7:30 a.m., according to Accuweather.

-19 RealFeel temperature.

3-6 inches of snow in the forecast for tonight into Tuesday.

50 mph winds that lashed the region for much of the day on Sunday.

80-foot tree that was toppled into home in Newtown.

7 feet of snow on the ground in Boston.

13 percent dip in Part I Crimes (such as assault, rape and robbery) in Chester since 2013.

30 homicides in the city in 2014, that’s a record high.

8 more murders than in 2013.

45,000 calls responded to by Chester police last year.

1 every 12 minutes.

183 reports of shots fired.

109 people shot in the city in 2013; that’s down from 213 in 2011.

500 guns take off city streets since January 2012.

2 teens killed in 2-vehicle crash on Route 100 in Chester County. A Media man now faces DUI charges in the crash.

15 people who signed up for health care yesterday at event held by Crozer Keystone Health Center in Chester. Yesterday was the deadline to sign up.

40 years of Saturday Night Live celebrated last night.

2-1 win for the Flyers over the Sabres in Buffalo.

9 straight games Flyers have recorded points.

5 points that separate Flyers from Boston and final playoff spot.

41 points for Russell Westbrook to take MVP honors at the NBA All-Star Game.

163-158 win for the Western Conference. Nice defense.

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

Figures. The Flyers are making a late push for the playoffs in a year when there is a ton of talent available in the draft. Good for them.

I Don’t Get It: Temperatures below zero. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Springfield resident Donna Farrell, who is heading the committee overseeing the World Conference for Families, including the visit by Pope Francis, set for September.

Quote Box: “More than a drug task force, we need a gang task force.”

- Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, who is running for mayor of Chester, saying that the city has a gang problem.

My visit to Drexel Neumann Academy

I used my print column today to detail my visit last week to Drexel Neumann Academy in Chester.

It brought back a lot of memories for me, in particular the eight years I sat at the fairly firm right hand of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

In another vein, the visit and talking with these kids reminded that there are a lot of good stories about Chester that don't make the front page of the newspaper. I would put these kids at the that list.

My thanks against to Sister Maggie Gannon, OSF, and Drexel Neumann Principal Sister Cathy McGowan, SSJ. They are doing great things in Chester.

A lovely -1 degree for the ride into work

I now know that the temperaturer gauge that is built into my car's odometer can read negative numbers.

This is what it read when I got into the car this morning.


You read it right, that's one below zero.

Yes, it is cold out.

And just to add to our misery, some snow is expected to arrive, with accumulating snow to hit the region late and into Tuesday morning. AccuWeather does something called a RealFeel temperature. I'm not sure what that means, but I know this.

It's really cold.

AccuWeather says the temperature outside at 5 a.m. was 3 degrees, but the RealFeel is actually -19. We're headed to a high of 21 degrees today with snow arriving about 11 p.m.

At least the wind is expected to die down a bit. It was howling yesterday with gusts recorded across the region of 50 mph. High winds toppled a huge oak tree that slammed through a family's home in Newtown Square. Micraculously, no one was injured.

And those looking to flee the cold with a holiday weekend movie got a rude awakening out in Concord last night. A water main break chased patrons from the AMC theater at Routes 1 and 202.

Parish and regional Catholic elementary schools in the City of Philadelphia will be closed today because of the severe cold. No such luck for kids here in Delco. This announcement applies only to the City of Philadelphia.

Archdiocesan high school teachers are scheduled to participate in a staff development day tomorrow. The staff development day will take place as scheduled and all should plan to report.

Here's what AccuWeather says we can expect today.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Dems all the cliches that fit, folks

Brace yourself.

It's not just the Pope and Democrats who are coming.

Every cliche and stereotype of our fair region is coming along with them.

The national media just could not help itself yesterday upon learning that the Democratic National Convention will be the encore for the Pope and the World Conference for Families.

The pope will be here next September. The summer after that, Democrats will arrive, likely to make a little history of their own in nominating Hillary Clinton as the nation's first female candidate of one of the two major parties. In the meantime, it's all cheese steaks, all the time.

Even the venerable New York Times could not resist, breaking out that most tired anecdote when it comes to Philly folks, the legendary incident at an Eagles game when a ragtag Santa Claus earned the wrath of the local fans with our signature vocal offering.


You name it, it got conjured up yesterday. Rocky was well-represented. No doubt we'll be serenaded endless times with shots of citizens running up the Art Museum steps.

And we'll see any number of video clips showing our own delicacy, those thin strips of beef, being grilled up, piled on a roll and topped with Cheese Whiz.

Soft pretzels will be everywhere. Note to visitors. Auntie Anne's is not a soft pretzel, at least not one any self-respecting local would munch on.

The Associated Press yesterday decided to offer some early tips to visitors in the proper way to order a cheese steak. Uh, guys, that is a roll, probably Amoroso's, not a bun.

Do you think the pope like cheese steaks?

Not throwing my hat in the race

Yesterday I decided to have some fun with the blog. Yes, we still enjoy our share of chuckles in the newsroom.

I decided to poke a little fun at myself and tie it into the release of the much-anticipated bodice-ripping flick, "50 Shades of Grey."

I needed a new pic to go with the item that displayed my increasingly silver mane.

I am always stunned at the reaction that is generated when you post an updated picture of yourself on Facebook. But I have to admit I didn't expect what happened yesterday.

I grabbed a shot of me that was taken at a press conference at the Delaware County Courthouse where the Daily Times was honored by the D.A.'s Office for our coverage of the heroin problem in the region. What you can't see in the photo is that D.A. Jack Whelan is standing beside me. That's called cropping. But in the crop, I managed to isolate myself with a flag right behind me.

A lot of people thought I was running for office. Several commenters joked that I should be running for president with that shot. Believe me, I have my hands full trying to run the newsroom.

As it turns out, the decision was kind of prescient. It was just an hour or so later that we got the breaking news that Democrats had picked Philadelphia as the site for their 2016 National Convention.

Once again, I'm ahead of the curve.

But relax, I'm not running for office.

I'll have to be content with covering candidates for now.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Feb. 12

The Daily Numbers: 3 guilty verdicts in murder of Rite Aid store manager in Chester.

1st degree murder conviction against Rita Pultro, who police believe fired the deadly shot.

2 hours of deliberations by the jury.

3 winning tickets in last night’s Powerball jackpot - none of them were in this area.

1 Upper Darby police officer under investigation in connection with missing property from evidence room.

3.6 percent tax hike in the preliminary budget presented by Upper Darby School Board.

5.8 million dollar shortfall facing the always struggling district.

10 bucks more a month for the average homeowner with a house assessed at $100,000.

32, age of Upper Darby woman revived by Narcan during a heroin overdose.

5 percent severance tax on natural gas drilling operations in the state unveiled by Gov. Tom Wolf yesterday at a Chester County elementary school.

1 billion dollars a year that could be earmarked for education from the new tax.

2, where the Taney Dragons now stand after the team that won the Little League World Series last summer, eliminating the Philly kids in the process, were stripped of their title for using ineligible players.

74-68 win for No. 6 Villanova over Providence on the road last night.

20 points for Ryan Arcidiacano, 19 for Daniel Ochefu.

2 OT win for La Salle over No. 20 VCU.

65-64 win for Saint Joe’s over Rhode Island.

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

It’s beginning to look like Villanova might have company from Philly in the NCAA Tourney. Temple and Saint Joe’s are likely now playing their best ball of the season.

I Don’t Get It: The Chicago Jackie Robinson team that beat the Taney Dragons and won the Little League World Series last year has been stripped of their title. This unfortunately is what happens too often when adults get involved in kids’ sports. Now these kids are being tarnished for something they had little to do with.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Havertown native Joe Clancy. He returned to his roots to speak at Villanova yesterday. His current job? Oh, he’s just the boss of the Secret Service.

Quote Box: “It’s just sad for everyone. I lost my son, (the defendants’ families) are losing their kids.”

- Margie Reiley, mother of slain Rite Aid manager Jason McClay, after guilty verdicts were delivered against three suspects yesterday.

A visit to Drexel Neumann Academy

The front page of today's Daily Times features the tragic case of Jason McClay, the store manager who was gunned down during a holdup gone wrong at the Rite Aid at Ninth and Highland in Chester back in 2013.

A jury convicted all three defendants - Rita Pultro, the woman who is believed to have fired the fatal shot, of first-degree murder, two males accomplices of second-degree murder.

Yes, it's another front page dominated by a story that shows the city of Chester in a less than positive light.

It's very easy to assume the worst when it comes to Chester, to simply shrug and rack it up as another horrible incident in a city that continues to battle crime and an image as someplace that is not safe.

But it's more than that, it's far too easy to dismiss a lot of the good things - and good people - that are happening in the city.

That's why what I did yesterday was so important.

I had a chance to meet some truly great young people, and the teachers and nuns who are molding them into outstanding citizens.

I had the privilege of speaking to a couple of classes at Drexel Neumann Academy.

I was invited by Sister Maggie Gannon, OSF, and the principal, Sister Cathy McGowan, SSJ.

That's right, they have two orders of nuns at Drexel Neumann.

Sister Maggie assured me these were some of the best, most well-behaved kids she's ever encountered. They ranged in age from first-graders to a couple of high schoolers.

She wasn't lying (nuns don't lie, do they?). The kids were great.

While introducing me to her young charges, Sister Maggie reminded me of something that I had forgotten. St. Francis DeSales is the patron saint of journalists because of the tracts and books that he wrote.

I told the kids they had something in common with the old guy who was addressing them, that 50 years ago I was sitting where they are now, under the fairly firm tutelage of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

I tried to explain to them the seismic changes that are convulsing my business, and the complications that toiling in two worlds - print and online - can create.

But most of all I urged them to develop a love of words, while at the same time cautioning them that these are very powerful things. I told them my parents and the good sisters of IHM instilled in me a love of language and writing, and I hoped they would as well. I told them something I stress to every group of young people I speak to: Regardless of what they do with their lives, they will need to do two things: Communicate effectively in both written and verbal forms.

Sister Maggie was right. It's much too easy to develop a pre-conceived image of Chester and the young people who live there. I wish everyone could see what I saw at Drexel Neumann Academy.

Later that day, Sister Maggie wrote me an email to thank me for coming. She that "after today, I have no doubt you also are a Franciscan."

I'm not sure I've ever received a nicer compliment.

50 Shades of Grey?

I'm not sure I understand all the hype surrounding the hot new flick, '50 Shades of Grey,' which hits screens Friday.

After all, if I want 50 shades of grey, all I have to do is look in the mirror. Now there's a serious candidate for some Grecian Formula.

Believe, it's not nearly as thrilling as it's made out to be. If I hear the word 'distinguished' one more time, I might be physically ill. I looked it up in the dictionary. I think it means ancient.

Eat your heart out, George Clooney.

I guess I could joke that I'm giving my wife '50 Shades of Grey' for Valentine's Day.

I'm just not sure how to get this ugly mug in the box!

Yo, high school hoops junkies: Enter our brackets contest and win $25 gift card

Here in Delco, we take our high school sports pretty seriously.

And nowhere is that competitive streak more apparent than the county's long, rich tradition of excellence on the hardcourts. Yes, we're high school hoops junkies.

So we've decided to allow our great fans to put their knowledge to the test, while focusing on this year's PIAA boys and girls hoops tourneys.

We're challenging all Delco fans to our High School Basketball Bracket Challenge.

We'll pick a winner from each district and the winner will receive a $25 gift card. Plus you can keep track of how you are doing, where you rank on our leaderboard, and even create private groups to compete against your friends, as well as seeing how you stack up against our staff experts.

You can get all the details here.

And don't forget to check out GameTimePa every day for all the latest on Delco high school sports.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Feb. 11

The Daily Numbers: 21, age of Christian Massey, who police say was gunned down in a holdup try. The trial for the suspect in the case started yesterday.

300 bucks, cost of the Beats by Dre headphones the gunman wanted to steal from the Marple Newtown grad.

6-0 vote by Middletown Township to OK residential uses as part of the renovation of the Granite Run Mall property.

2 apartment buildings being considered as part of the plan.

35, age of man suffering a heroin OD at the 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby who was revived by a SEPTA officer using Narcan.

600 of the 700 kids at Penn Wood Middle School taking part in a breakfast program. The district’s program was lauded as a model by a state agency yesterday.

3 Radio Shack stores in Delaware County that will be closed as the chain reorganizes.

5 million dollars given to Villanova for new law center.

1 March deadline for a new contract for local refinery workers. Nationally, USW workers are already on strike.

5 counts of reckless endangerment for state police trooper involved in training range shooting accident that killed another trooper.

6 months suspension without pay for NBC news anchor Brian Williams.

139.55 gain for the Dow Jones average yesterday.

2-1 loss in OT for the Flyers in Montreal last night.

39 saves for Ray Emery, in for injured starter Steve Mason.

75-59 rout for Temple over Cincy last night as the Owls get revenge for earlier loss to Bobcats.

6 straight wins for Drexel.

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

There’s been a lot of talk about Villanova. Being No. 6 in the country will do that for you. But don’t discount Temple. The Owls are turning it on at just the right time and last night avenged an earlier loss by blowing out Cincinnati.

I Don’t Get It: Still trying to figure out what Brian Williams was thinking about.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the folks at Penn Wood Middle School and their Breakfast in the Classroom program, which yesterday was lauded as a model for the state.

Quote Box: “Garcia’s goal that day was to rob and to steal.”

- Assistant District Attorney Brendan O’Malley, in opening argument at trial for Arkel Garcia, charged with killing Marple Newtown grad Christian Massey for his expensive headphones.

Brian Williams, celebrity & the news

NBC dropped the hammer on Brian Williams last night.

The top-rated anchor of the NBC "Nightly News" was suspended six months without pay.

I can't say I'm surprised.

But I'm still trying to figure out what Williams possibly could have been thinking.

Actually, I have a theory. It hit me this morning when I heard that Jon Stewart, the insanely popular host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," announced he was stepping down at the end of the year.

I started thinking about this business that has employed me for more than three decades, of the differences between print and TV, and the increasingly blurring lines between news and entertainment.

Brian Williams was not just a highly paid news anchor. He was a celebrity.

Most of the people who deliver news on the TV are. And it's not just at the network level. Why do you think we spend so much time detailing the comings and goings of the folks on our local TV stations. And don't even get me started on the weather. You think Cicely Tynan, Sheena Parveen, Glenn Schwartz, Kathy Orr, John Bolaris and all the others are not local celebrities.

It's not hard to figure out why. We welcome these people into our homes every day. They often are our dinner companions. For some people, they may be their only companion.

They make a connection that newspaper folks for the most part don't achieve. There is a bit of anonymity in writing for the newspaper, one I'm often grateful for. Sure, I get stopped once in awhile in the local Wawa by someone wondering, "Aren't you the editor of the Daily Times?" (The answer to that, of course, is: It depends on who wants to know!).

There used to be a clear line that separated news from entertainment. That line got blurred a long time ago. In addition, the explosion of the Internet, including social media, has changed the game. We're not all in competition for the same eyeballs.

Brian Williams didn't just read the news at night. He was a familiar face on talk shows - and he was very good at it, Glib, affable and likeable, he was always quick with an anecdote or a great story.

In the process, he was pushing the one word that all of us in the news business spend a lot of time doing these days. His "brand."

Today everyone with a laptop and a Twitter account has one. Of course, some are more high-profile than others. For some reason, more than 3,000 people follow me on Twitter. That is part of my "brand." I in turn am part of the Daily Times "brand."

Williams and other celebrities operate in another stratosphere. Millions follow their every move, not just during that 30 minutes he enters our homes every night, but on social media and his appearances as well.

We all love a good story, one that is newsworthy as well as "entertaining."

But there was a time when what defined news was sacred. I find it hard to believe Williams just decided to lie about his helicopter coming under fire. He didn't read it on the "Nightly News." But it was part of a story he told, and one he clearly embellished. His take on it made it a better story.

It also made it false. That's something you just can't do in this business.

Brian Williams, the anchor man, undoubtedly knows that. Brian Williams, the news celebrity, apparently did not.

He now has six months to think about how it all went wrong.

I don't know if people will ever be able to accept Brian Williams again. All we have in this business is our credibility, the belief readers have that what we are reporting is the truth.

People now are wondering if they can believe what Brian Williams says. It will take awhile for that to change.

That's the thing about "brands." When they're good, they're very good. But they work both ways. Brian Williams' "brand" just went off a cliff.

Restoring it will not be an easy task.