Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, June 30

The Daily Numbers: 1 single DUI charge, the only charge a jury convicted Jonathan Vanderhorst on in the fatal crash the took the life of popular college athlete Dante DeSimone outside the Clifton Heights McDonald’s.

6 months in prison, maximum penalty for the charge.

4 hours, how long the jury deliberated before reaching their verdict.

5 million bucks, what Delaware County wants from Pennsylvania to offset storm damage from last week’s wild winds and rain.

2.5 million dollars in damage in Chester alone.

280,000 Atlantic Electric customers in Jersey who lost power in last week’s storm.

220,000, how many lost power during Hurricane Sandy.

568 cutstomers in Gloucester County still without power Monday night.

5,000 dollars to a Delco entrepreneur HeadRoom from PECO.

15 hours until the deadline for a new budget to be in place in Pa. It doesn’t look promising.

30.2 billion dollar budget plan that will be put on governor’s desk by Republicans. Gov. Wolf is vowing to veto it.

800 million dollars in new education funding being sought by Wolf.

11 billion dollars, how much state actuaries say a GOP plan to shave pension costs would save.

95,000 dollar fine for Sunoco Logistics to settle a civil complaint over a spills tied to drilling in western Pa.

350 point nosedive for the stock market yesterday.

3 months, how long Andy MacPhail says he will simply observe the Phillies operation before taking over as president in October.

7-4 loss for the Phils a few hours after the official MacPhail arrival.

18,423 rattling around in Citizens Bank Park for last night’s game on a gorgeous summer night.

3rd round draft pick, what Ron Hextall and the Flyers for for Zac Rinaldo in dealing him to the Bruins.

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

The Phillies have a new face. It’s not Andy MacPhail. It’s John Middleton, who stepped out of the shadows as the man in charge of Phillies ownership yesterday.

I Don’t Get It: Does every disagreement have to be rooted in race? Just wondering.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Bo Ryan. The Chester native and former Chester High standout announced the upcoming season will be his last as head coach at Wisconsin. He will retire after the season. Chester Proud.

Quote Box: “How do you get political when people are hungry?”

- Chester Township Councilwoman Angela Prattis, on disagreement with Brookhaven officials over use of a storm shelter.

The Vanderhorst verdict: Looking for answers

Here's what we know about the accident that took the life of Dante DeSimone on Jan 12, 2014.

Jonathan Vanderhorst was driving east on Baltimore Pike and attempted to turn left into the McDonald's. His Ford Taurus collided with a pickup truck operated by Mark Greenslade, who was heading west on the Pike.

The impact sent the truck up onto the sidewalk outside the McDonald's, where DeSimone and some friends were walking. The truck struck DeSimone, as well as one of his friends, Tim Robison.

DeSimone, a very popular athlete who had graduated from Upper Darby HIgh, where he played ice hockey and lacrosse for four years and was captain of the lacrosse team, died of his injuries. He had been home for the Christmas break after completing his first semester at Neumann University.

Eventually Vanderhorst was charged with a host of charges, including homicide by vehicle while DUI, aggravated assault while DUI and DUI rendering him incapable of operating a motor vehicle.

But yesterday a Delaware County jury, after hearing conflicting testimony in terms of whether Vanderhorst was impaired, acquitted him of all but a single charge of DUI.

The prosecution had argued that medical tests showed Vanderhorst was under the influence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, as well as the anti-anxiety drug Clonazepam, for which he had a prescription. The defense's witnesses disputed findings that Vanderhorst was impaired at the time of the accident.

The jury agreed.

Moments after I posted the initial verdict on our website, it exploded with comments of outrage at the verdict.

I understand their feelings.

We want to know why a great kid like Dante DeSimone was taken so young, and we want to blame someone for it. I don't question those who trash the system and rant about justice in Delaware County.

At the same time, I also feel a bit for Vanderhorst. His face has appeared on the front page of this newspaper any number of times in connection with this incident. I wonder how many people will remember that he was acquitted of most of the serious charges. That's one of the reasons it was our lead story today, and not simply tucked inside.

Is it possible this tragic incident was something else altogether, simply an accident. Two cars collided. One went out of control and took a young man's life.

It is natural to look to assign blame.

I feel for the DeSimone family. I also feel for the plight of Vanderhorst.

We report the news; we don't have all the answers. Certainly we don't in this sad case.

Budget & Booze on tap in Harrisburg

We're about to find out what Tom Wolf is made of.

Remember those four years of on-time - if austere - budgets delivered by former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett? They're history. There's a new sheriff in town. Unfortunately, his posse is controlled by Republicans.

The Democrat Wolf has made clear he wants a huge spike in spending, with much of the money going to education, which suffered under the Corbett administration. In order to get them, he wants to increase the state income and sales taxes, as well as slapping a new extraction tax on natural gas drilling in the state.

That is not exactly music to Republicans' ears.

They're ready to put their own spending plan, which very much resembles the kind of fiscal blueprint Corbett delivered for four years, on the governor's desk.

That's when we'll find out just how serious Wolf is about his new vision for Pennsylvania.

So far he's given no indication that he would sign such a measure. If he vetoes it, it's very likely that the state could be looking at some kind of at least partial shutdown when the clock hits midnight tonight, the deadline for the state to have a spending plan in place.

Yesterday Wolf went so far as to send a letter to state workers and some contractors warning them of a possible shutdown. Adding to the intrigue in Harrisburg is two other measures being pushed by Republicans - both of which are opposed by Wolf. One would privatize the sale of wine and liquor in the state, the other would change pension benefits for future state and public school employees.

It's ironic that the privatization battle - which has been talked about for years but consistently gone nowhere - comes on the same day that Wawa is entering the fray. The Delco-based convenience store giant will go before the powers that be in Concord tonight, looking to get the OK to sell beer at their store on Naamans Creek Road. It would be the first time Wawa has sold beer in Pa., although they already sell suds in other states.

Full confession here: Yes, I am the state's foremost proponent of getting Pennsylvania out of the booze business. I have said many times that my position has nothing to do with what I know are some very important factors - whether or not the numbers add up. I know the LCB operations add a ton of revenue to the state's coffers every year, to say nothing of providing a lot of good jobs. My point has always been that the state has no business being in the sale of booze, and that our archaic laws make buying beer and wine ridiculously difficult.

There is a chance that Wolf, who has been clear in his opposition to privatization, may have to bend a bit in order to get what he wants from Republicans who control the Legislature.

If that means privatization arrives in Pennsylvania, I'm all for it.

But I'll also say something else I've said a million times. I'll believe it when I see it.

It's 6:30 a.m. Do you know where your state budget is?

When the clock strikes midnight tonight, will Tom Wolf or Republicans turn into pumpkins.

Or perhaps pumpkin ales.

Stay tuned.

A new face for the Phillies - 2 of them

The Phillies rolled out a new face of the organization yesterday.

Actually, two of them.

Sure, everyone was expecting the announcement that longtime baseball exec Andy MacPhail would replace Pat Gillick as team president.

MacPhail plans to spend three months analyzing the entire Phillies organization before he takes the reins from Gillick in October. One of his biggest decisions will be the fate of embattled General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

But maybe just as important was the other guy who dominated yesterday's afternoon press conference.

That would be John Middleton, the cigar biz baron who clearly stepped out of the shadows to take a much bigger role with the team.

For years the Phillies' ownership has been for the most part anonymous, preferring to stay out of the limelight - and headlines. But times have changed. So has ownership. For the most part, the team is now controlled by Middleton and the Buck family.

Now Middleton appears ready to put his stamp on the team.

Yesterday's announcement of MacPhail, the first time the team has gone outside the organization in anyone's memory, was step one.

Here's columnist Jack McCaffery's take on a very interesting day for the Phillies.

Oh, and other thing. Some things don't change. The Phillies and Sean O'Sullivan blew a lead last night and lost their series opener to the Brewers.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, June 29

The Daily Numbers: 5 people arrested in major meth bust in Upper Darby.

10,000 dollar reward offered for information in the fatal shooting of Thomas Childs at a Yeadon trucking business.

83 million dollar pricetag for Burman’s Specialty Pharmacy.

1896, when singing icon Ethel Waters was born - in Chester. Yesterday the city unveiled a marker to honor the songstress.

1 escaped prisoner shot and killed in New York; the other was later shot and captured.

67, age of Chris Squire, who played bass for the classic rock band Yes. He died over the weekend.

1,500 line crews who responded to Delco to help PECO restore power.

2 days until the deadline for a new state budget to be in place in Harrisburg. It does not look promising.

112-77 House vote to pass a GOP version of the budget on Saturday.

1 woman struck and killed by train near Ambler on Sunday.

1 dead, 2 injured in shooting incident in Philly.

3 people killed when small plane that took off from Lancaster slammed into a house near Boston.

8-5 win for the Phils in the nightcap to split Sunday double-header with the Nats.

3-2 win for Stephen Strasburg and D.C. in the opener.

4 hits for Cesar Hernandez in the win.

26-48 mark for Ryne Sandberg with Phils this year. He stepped down on Friday.

119-159 record for Sandberg in his two years with the team

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

Ryne Sandberg deserved better.

I Don’t Get It: There are still a lot of people in South Jersey who do not have power - six days after that storm hit. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the move yesterday in Chester to erect a marker to denote the birthplace of Ethel Waters, a Chester native.

Quote Box: “Ethel Waters was a star.”

- Chester Mayor John Linder.

An 'Amazing' week for the president - & the nation

I was dumbstruck by something I saw online on Saturday.

There is actually nothing all that unusual about hearing someone singing 'Amazing Grace' at a funeral service.

Except this was not just anyone.

This was the president of the United States.

I posted a video clip of President Obama's impromptu version of the old spiritual, which he delivered while offering the eulogy for one of the victims of the mass shooting inside the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.

I prefaced that post with something I will repeat here. I understand that some people will call Obama's performance calculated, or a political stunt, or playing to the audience. You are welcome to that opinion. Be my guest.

I will disagree.

In fact, I will go so far as to ask if anyone can tell me when a president had a week as astounding as the one President Obama delivered last week.

First, he had to console the nation in the immediate aftermath of the Charleston shooting. To be honest, I thought he was too quick to draw a link to the battle over gun control in this nation.

A few days later, he was handed a second major victory on his health care bill when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal subsidies that are crucial to the Affordable Care Act are constitutional.

Then, on Friday morning, the high court followed that ruling with another, declaring that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right in all 50 states.

In each instance, the president's words perfectly framed the debate. He talked about freedom, and how when one of us becomes more free, we are all better for it.

Then on Friday he went to Charleston. He talked about grace, and how this tragic event still had the power to infuse us with grace.

And that's when he broke into song.

As I watched it, I could think of only one word. Wow, just wow.

Then I thought back to the front page I created for Obama's first inauguration. It was led with a simple, two-word hed: Mr. President. I know this is not going to change the minds of anyone. But the man has a knack for rising to the occasion.

I can think of no president who has had to endure the kind of divisive - even hate-filled - rhetoric that has been hurled at this leader. And I think we all know why.

This comes from someone who thought too many did a huge disservice to then-President George W. Bush. I can see why Republicans and conservatives developed a true dislike for the media in those years. We gave them them plenty of ammunition.

But nothing comes close to what has been heaped on President Obama.

All of which makes a week like last week only that much more meaningful.

The guy had a helluva week.

"Amazing," you might say.

New meets old

New meets old. It happened today in my weekly print column.

\
As you might have guessed, I'm the old.

So is something we did last week. It's our annual salute to high school grads. We call it the Grad Tab.

But it got a bit of a new spin when I decided to tease it before it actually came out in print on Twitter and Facebook.

Corinne Blair took it from there.

She's the Interboro grad who appears on our cover.

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Ryne Sandberg deserved better

Ryne Sandberg deserved better.

From Pat Gillick.

From Ruben Amaro Jr.

And from his team, in particular Chase Utley.

Sandberg fell on his sword Friday, announcing he was resigning as manager of the Phillies. No doubt before the team had a chance to fire him.

Sandberg had a Hall of Fame career, one that could have been spent as a Phillie but instead came in the uniform of the Chicago Cubs after one of the most infamous trades in team history.

Let's just say no one is reserving a spot on Cooperstown for him for his short-lived stint as skipper of the Phillies.

That does not excuse what the Phillies did to him.

Saddled with a lineup that was as dour as Sandberg's demeanor, the team quickly sank to the bottom of the standings.

The losing - and likely the way the team was losing - became too much for a proud baseball guy like Sandberg.

Rumors are flying that the Phillies this week will bring in Andy MacPhail to take over baseball operations. It's likely Sandberg decided to step down before the team could fire him.

His laid-back, reserved personality was not a great fit for this team - nor this passionate fan base.

But it still does not excuse what happened to him.

Chase Utley showed up his manager by going ballistic on the mound when outfield Jeff Francoeur was hung out to dry as an emergency pitcher. Then a couple of days later, Sandberg clearly was taken by surprise with the news that Utley was going on the disabled list with a balky ankle.

It was pretty clear Sandberg had lost Utley, and thus the locker room.

That on a team that could win less than 50 games.

No one likely will shed a tear over Sandberg's exit, as opposed to the reaction when Charlie Manuel packed his Wawa bag and was seen sadly sauntering out of Citizens Bank Park.

Sandberg deserved better.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Friday, June 26

The Daily Numbers: 14,033 customers in Delco still without power as of 10:15 last night, according to PECO.

33 of 49 municipalities in the county still reporting outages.

6 major roads in Delco still closed.

11 p.m., when Route 1 southbound in Concord is expected to reopen.

31,000 people without power across the entire region.

13,275 in Chester County.

1,500 local contractors and additional field help brought in by PECO to help restore power.

770 workers focusing directly on Delco.

4 DUI offenses for a Haverford man.

80 years, how long the Tori family has been running their butcher shop on West Chester Pike in Drexel Hill. Joe Tori is hanging up his apron on Saturday.

1 year contract for high school teachers in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

625 teachers covered in the deal, at 17 high schools, including 3 here in Delco.

1,350 pay hike included in the deal.

1.5 percent increase in pension fees being paid by management personnel at SEPTA. That’s up to 2.5 percent from the current 1 percent.

15 years in prison for a Lansdowne man on fed charges that he tried to shoot a federal agent.

9 of July, how long Joe Watkins will remain in his post as the appointed receiver of Chester Upland School District.

30 million of the $45 million fundraising goal hit by the Philadelphia Archdiocese for the World Meeting of Families and visit by Pope Francis.

6,000 of 10,000 volunteers have already signed up.

1.65 fee on cell phone bills, up from $1, to operate 911 centers, according to bill passed and sent to Gov. Wolf.

292 million a year, what it costs to run the state’s 911 centers, including one in Delco.

5 people arrested in videotaped vicious attack on a Philly high school student.

3 pick used by Sixers on Duke center Jahil Okafor.

2, where Ohio State point guard D’Angel Russell went.

23rd pick in draft, where Chester High’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson went, to the Trail Blazers, who then traded him to Brooklyn.

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

Raise your hand if you winced when the Lakers snagged D’Angelo Russell at No. 2, 1 pick in front of the Sixers? But Jahlil Okafor is not a bad consolation prize. A lot of people think he’s the best player in the draft. Unfortunately, it now gives the Sixers three big men, and still looking for a point guard to run the show.

I Don’t Get It: Route 1 SB in Concord is still shut down by downed trees. Kind of hard to believe.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the pride of Chester, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. He was the 23rd pick in the NBA Draft last night, following in the proud footprints of another Chester legend, Jameer Nelson.

Quote Box: “It’s pretty rough, but we’re surviving.”

- Len Cerami of Aston, who has been without power since the storm hit Tuesday night.

When things are at their worst, Delco is often at its best

Slowly but surely, Delco is getting back to normal in the wake of the powerful storm that walloped the county Tuesday night.

That does not mean is has been easy, nor without more than a little frustration.

A lot of people in Aston and Brookhaven have now struggled through a second full day without power. Southbound Route 1 Baltimore Pike remains closed because a string of trees toppled over on power lines.

Tim Logue has a full update on the round-the-clock effort to restore power.

As of 10:30 p.m. last night, there were still 19,000 customers in the county without power. PECO has pulled in 1,500 additional staffers to help in the herculean effort to get everyone back online.

In the meantime, something else has been restored in Delaware County. It's the powerful sense of community that this place shows in exactly these kinds of circumstances.

In short, when things are at their worst, we're often at our best.

We used our editorial page today to address the issue.

A big night for the pride of Chester

All-Delco and Chester High standout Rondae Hollis-Jefferson didn't last long in Portland.

The Clipper was selected by the Trail Blazers with the 23rd pick in the draft. The Portland promptly shipped him off to the Brooklyn Nets.

Staff writer Terry Toohey was in the Barclays Center last night and has the details.

Hollis-Jefferson was not alone in the Big Apple. A huge contingent of Chester folks and Clippers fans made the hike to fete the Chester High product on his big night.

Hollis-Jefferson spent two seasons at the University of Arizona before turning pro, seeking to follow in the footsteps of Chester High guard Jameer Nelson, who followed up a sterling career at Saint Joe's with a long NBA career.

One thing you have to say about Chester athletes. They rarely forget where they came from.

We're proud of you, Rondae!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, June 25

The Daily Numbers: 200,000 residents without power across the region as of 6 a.m.

24,000 in Delaware County.

24,000 in Chester County.

50,000 residents in Delco were without power last night. We’re making progress.

3 shelters open in Delco. PPL Park will open for residents at 11 a.m. There are also shelters at Academy Park High School and Brookhaven Borough Hall.

75 people who were at Brookhaven Borough Hall after the storm hit Tuesday night.

2:40 this morning, when some parts of Brookhaven got power back.

72 mph gust recorded at Philadelphia International Airport.

85 mph gust reported in Gloucester County, N.J.

1985, when Bill Bennett started his career as an educator. He now faces firing. The Rose Tree Media School Board could vote tonight on his fate as principal of Indian Lane Elementary.

1 more key aide fired by Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

2 local universities, West Chester and Cheyney, who are announcing a collaborative.

61 feet high and weighing 11 tons. Meet the duck that will hail the tall ships when they arrive in Philly today for the Tall Ships Festival.

3 Philly election officials facing fraud charges.

3, where Sixers pick in tonight’s NBA Draft.

5 selections in the 2nd round for the Sixers.

23, number worn by Chester product Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who is expected to be drafted in the 1st round of the NBA Draft tonight.

2 years, how long Hollis-Jefferson played at Arizona before deciding to go pro.

10-2 loss for the Phils to New York as their bats went silent again, just in time for Cole Hamels to take the mound.

5 earned runs on 8 hits over 5 innings for Hamels.

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

Wasn’t hard to predict that: The Phillies bats go silent as Cole Hamels takes the mound. Not as easy to predict is what Sixers GM Sam Hinkie is going to do in the NBA Draft tonight.

I Don’t Get It: Am I the only one who is having trouble with the case Rose Tree Media is building against Bill Bennett, the principal at Indian Lane Elementary. He could be fired tonight, despite glowing reviews from parents.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Philadelphia Union, for opening up PPL Park for residents to use as a shelter this morning in the wake of the storm that slammed many parts of Chester.

Quote Box: “Thirty years in this business and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

- Timothy Stone, owner of Fine Tree Care, in the wake of the storm.

State of Emergency

I got an inkling that yesterday was not a normal day in Delaware County on my initial jaunt to our local Wawa at mid-morning.

Normally both sides of Cottonwood Lane, the tiny street that runs between the railroad tracks and the Wawa and leads back to our plant in Primos, are jammed with cars. They are commuters who know they need to get there early if they're going to get a spot before they scramble to catch their train at the Primos Station on the Media-Elwyn line.

The trains weren't running yesterday.

They had lots of company.

State of Emergency.

That pretty much sums up what life was like for many Delco residents yesterday.

That's especially true out in the western end of the county, where the full force of Mother Nature hit with a vengeance Tuesday night. How bad was it? Route 1 southbound is still closed this morning because of a string of downed trees in Concord.

Middletown and Brookhaven were slammed by the storm.

County officials gathered in Brookhaven last night to offer a final update on the storm.

There was a shelter set up there.

Here are a few updates:

The Philadelphia Union today will open PPL Park as a shelter at 11 a.m. Residents can shower, cool off and the team will provide food and water.

PECO this morning is saying that outages across the region have dipped below 50,000 for the first time, with 49,245 still in the dark. Last night there were still 50,000 residents in Delco without power. This morning that number has dipped to 24,000. PECO is warning that some customers may be without power until the weekend.

In addition to PPL Park, two other shelters are operating in the county, at Academy Park High School and Brookhaven Borough Hall. A couple of key closed roads are now open: Route 291 in Tinicum, and Waterville Road in Brookhaven. However, Route 1 southbound out in Concord remains closed this morning.

The Media-Elwyn line reopened at 5:30 a.m. in time for the morning rush.

If you are still without power, we'd like to talk to you and tell your story.

Contact me at editor@delcotimes.com

A love-hate relationship with technology

I have said many times I pretty much have a love-hate relationship with the technology that I swim in at work every day.

Today it's decidedly on the hate side.

Actually, I should just be hating myself.

I did something today I have never done before.

I drove all the way into the office in the pre-dawn darkness, pulled into the Daily Times parking lot, got out of the car, opened up the back door, and then came to the crushing realization that I just drove into the office without my laptop.

I think they heard me over at the Wawa.

I was not a happy camper.

Without that laptop I am pretty much dead in the water in terms of getting anything done online, updating our website, Tweeting (although I could use my phone for that), checking Facebook.

So when I got done cursing, I climbed back in the car and drove home again, snagged the laptop and then turned around and drove right back into the office.

That's a nice little 90-minute commute.

Please feel free to remind me not to take the laptop home with me.

Or at a minimum double-check to be sure I have when I leave home.

Like I said, I have a love-hate relationship with technology.

Today can only go up from here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, June 24 (The Storm Edition)

The Daily Numbers: 360,000 people across the region without power when storms ripped the region last night.

88,100 still without power in Delco this morning.

52,400 in Chester County powerless.

2 days, how long PECO said it might be before some customers get their power back on Friday.

0 trains running this morning on the busy Media-Elwyn regional rail line. Service has been suspended by downed trees and power lines until further notice.

0 service this morning on the PATCO lines. It is expected to be down all morning.

70 mph wind gusts reported at height of storm at Philadelphia International Airport.

2 tornado warnings issued across the region.

0 confirmed reports of a tornado actually touching down.

40 mph maximum wind recorded at the county Emergency Services Center in Middletown.

2 years and change, how long Joe Watkins lasted as the state-appointed leader of Chester Upland School District.

1.9 percent tax hike in William Penn School District budget.

50 percent of Delco municipalities that use Delaware County Animal Control. The Chester County SPCA has terminated its relationship with the company.

90 to 110 animals per month, what the Chesco SPCA says they used to get from Delco Animal Control. That number now is less than 50. The company is denying the SPCA’s allegations.

7 days until the deadline for a new Pa. budget, with little progress being reported in Harrisburg.

200 million dollars a year, what state Republicans say they can get from privatizing liquor sales. Gov. Wolf opposes the plan.

86, age of ‘Eight is Enough’ star Dick Van Patten, who died yesterday.

79, age of Don Featherstone, famous for creating the plastic pink flamingo lawn ornament.

15 day DL stint for Chase Utley, hobbled by a bum ankle.

11-6 win for the Phillies over the Yankees, again powered by a Maikel Franco home run.

4 for 5 for Franco.

5 RBI for the 2nd straight night for the Phils’ phenom.

1920, last time a Phillie knocked in 5 runs in 2 straight games.

31 runs for the Phils in winning 3 games in row.

11 of 12,
what Yankees had won at home before the Phils hit town.

93, age of legendary Sixers stat man Harvey Pollock, who died Tuesday.

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

The nation is beginning to notice Maikel Franco. And could this be the end of the line for Chase Utley, who has been placed on the 15-day DL.

I Don’t Get It: Yes, I love heat & humidity. I could live without the kind of storms that sometimes follow, as we saw last night. And also to the folks who insist on showing no courtesy and waiting their turn when traffic lights are out. What is so hard to understand about the concept of one at a time?

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the crews who spent the night working to restore power.

Quote Box: “Water and trees are everywhere.”

- Chester Police Superintendent Joe Bail, at the height of last night’s storm.

What it was like as Delco, region was taken by storm

I've never experienced a tornado.

And after what I witnessed last night outside our Primos office, I'm pretty sure I don't want to, I got a glimpse of what it must be like.

You sort of got the feeling as the early summer heat built during the day how this was going to end. Mother Nature didn't disappoint. The sky turned an angry gray, in some places almost black. The winds kicked up. The rain arrived. Then all hell broke loose.

Trees - those that weren't toppled - were bent horizontally, under full attack by the ferocious winds.

Instead of leaving the office when I normally do, I retreated back into the office, which luckily never lost power.

We were among the lucky ones.

Much of Delaware County and the region was not as lucky.

Social media started to light up with reports of problems. I-95 in Chester was shut down. A tree had blocked the southbound Route 1 Bypass between the Blue Route and Route 252. Flash flooding was a problem in Chester.

There were reports of 70 mph winds at Philadelphia International Airport.

Eventually, around 7 p.m. I decided to venture out and head home, already aware that power was out at Chez Heron.

That's when the adventure really started.

Driving last night was a bit like maneuvering a slalom course. Everywhere you turned there were downed trees and branches. I was good until I got to Springfield Road just above the Brookside intersection. The road was blocked by a downed tree. A quick detour through a neighborhood - where many residents were already outside holding their hands to their foreheads as they surveyed the damage - finally got me around the downed tree.

Since the Bypass was shut down, I decided to use my winter route, taking Springfield Road all the way out to Route 3. Many neighborhoods were without power, every other traffic light was out.

A big problem was the very busy intersection of Springfield Road and Route 1, where the lights were out. Cars inches out into the intersection as drivers took turns - for the most part - proceeding.

The rest of the way home was the same. Roads were closed all over the place by downed trees.

When I got home, since there was no power, I decided to survey the damage. We lost one large tree in the back yard. Luckily, it fell away from the house and across the creek that runs behind our yard.

We got power back around 2 a.m.

The drive back into the office this morning was equally wild.

Tree limbs continue to litter streets.

The big thing I noticed was the power outages. Granite Run - which already resembles a ghost town - was pitch black. Springfield obviously was hard hit. Many neighborhoods were still without power. Traffic lights were out on Baltimore Pike in Middletown, and then again in Springfield.

This morning, PECO is reporting 159,000 customers still without power at 5 a.m. In Delco, the number in the dark is 88,000. SEPTA was hit hard by the storm. Service on the busy Media-Elwyn regional rail line is suspended until further notice. Many bus lines are being rerouted.

There are still delays being reported at Philadelphia International Airport.

CLICK HERE for an update on PECO outages.

CLICK HERE for an update on SEPTA delays and problems.

CLICK HERE for the latest Traffic Conditions across the region.

CLICK HERE for information on Philadelphia International Airport

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, June 23

The Daily Numbers: 18, age of Dante DeSimone when he was run down on Baltimore Pike in Clifton Heights in Jaunuary 2014. He was walking outside the McDonald’s when a car went up onto the sidewalk and struck him.

46, age of Jonathan Vanderhorst, who goes on trial in the case today.

7, age of Cameron McCarthy, a first-grader at Pennell Elementary in Aston. The school is rallying around her in her battle vs. cancer.

9-12 months, how long the isolation and intake offices of the Delco SPCA will be relocated as renovations continue at the site.

36 animal adopted or relocated before the work.

15,000 signatures being sought on petitions seeking to have homicide declared a public health epidemic. A Chester group, Mothers in Charge Standing for Peace and Justice, is leading the effort in the city.

25 people who attended a meeting on violence in the city Monday night.

93, expected high temperature today. 97, record high set back in 1888.

2 shotgun shootings in 3 days on Philly streets.

5 people injured, 2 critically, in shooting yesterday.

700,000 dollars already pledged to the ‘Francis Fund,’ tied to visit by Pope Francis in September and geared toward helping the needy in the region.

70,000 people believed defrauded by a Jenkintown man.

4,000 in fines to be paid by Philly elections chief in ethics flap.

10 or more SEPTA rail cars that will be taken out of service this summer to meet new positive train control mandates. That means more cramped trains for your commute.

2 home runs for Maikel Franco last night to lead Phils to 11-8 win over Yankees.

4 hits, 5 RBI last night for Franco, who is now hitting .312.

3 hits each for Ben Revere and Freddy Galvis.

12 game road losing skid snapped by the Phils.

2-0 win for the U.S. Women over Colombia in World Cup soccer action.

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

The Phillies are challenging us to stay interested in this most dismal season. Maikel Franco is a big reason to stay tuned.

I Don’t Get It: People are questioning President Obama’s use of the N-word in an interview. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Penn-Delco community for rallying around young cancer victim Cameron McCarthy.

Quote Box: “Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being police to say (N-word) in public.”

- President Obama, talking about the debate surrounding the recent shooting in Charleston, S.C.

Watkins out in Chester Upland

The revolving door at the top of the Chester Upland School District is opening again. And that's district Receiver Joe Watkins exiting.

The district announced yesterday that Watkins will leave Chester Upland to take a position with a new social media company called Elected Face.

His resignation is effective June 30. You can get the details here.

Watkins was the latest in a line of state-appointed leaders for the perennially struggling school district. He was appointed as the district's chief recovery officer in December 2012. After the elected school board declined to adopt his recovery plan, he became the district receiver and assumed the board’s responsibilities for running the school district. He withstood a challenge that threatened to remove him from the job.

Watkins' appointment raised some eyebrows in the district because of his longtime backing of charter school as an option for parents in troubled districts.

Chester Upland has long been hampered by funding that follows the students when they leave the public school for a charter. Watkins vowed not only to work with charters, but to make it his mission to lure families back to Chester Upland Schools.

He embarked on a tour of district homes, meeting personally with families along with new Superintendent Gregory Shannon. They dynamic duo were successful in drawing students back to public schools in the district.

The district is currently stuggling with a $24 billion budget shortfall. Fiscal crises are not exactly new in Chester Upland. Now it will be someone else's job to make the numbers add up.

Our salute to grads - in print and online

Some days I actually enjoy the technology I swim in every day - and usually complain about to anyone who will listen.

Yesterday I went on Twitter and Facebook to "tease" the fact that our annual salute to high school graduates in Delaware County - our annual Grad Tab - would appear in today's print editions of the Daily Times.

On the cover we have a great shot of Interboro High School grad Corinne Blair celebrating at the Bucs' graduation exercise that was captured by our photographer Bob Gurecki.

That's Corinne clutching her diploma in one hand, a huge smile on her face and flashing a celebratory index finger. Yep, she's No. 1. It didn't take long for my Tweet to get noticed.

A friend of Corinne's saw it on Twitter and retweeted it. He also alerted Corinne via Twitter. She of course took to Twitter herself to tell everyone the news and urge everyone to buy a copy of the paper today.

Atta' girl, Corinne.

Our congratulations to all the graduates of Delco's Class of 2015.

It's our honor to note your achievements today.

Hazy, hot & humid? Bring it on!

You can start hating me now.

Or should I say 'heating' me now.

Yes, I like this weather.

Correction, I LOVE this weather.

Maybe it's because my last name starts with H - yes, I'm a hazy, hot and humid kind of guy.

Which will come in handy today, when we are looking at the possibility of a record high as the thermometer is expected to peak at 94 degrees. A heat advisory is in effect for the entire region.

The record high for today is 97 set back in 1888.

We're also looking at the possibility of thunderstorms rumbling across the region late this afternoon.

You can get all the details here.

There is, of course (isn't there always?) a downside to all this. I have a distinct dislike to air-conditioning. My idea of air-conditioning is a T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops.

I don't understand why my hands have to feel like popsicles all day in the office when it's 94 degrees outside.

Yes, I am that fool you will see driving home tonight with the window down.

Maybe it's a memory from my youth, when not every car had air-conditioning. Yes, kids, I'm old. Believe it or not, cars were not always air-conditioned. In fact, we were not above leaving the windows rolled up just to give the impression that our wheels were 'cool.'

Central air was not something we had in our house either.

When things really heated up in the summer, we would abandon the oven-like second floor of the Heron above for the cooler climes of the downstairs living room, or even resorting to sleeping out on the screened-in porch.

Somehow we managed to survive.

Today, TV will tell us all day of the dangers of the heat and how we need to stay hydrated and seek out air-conditioned places like malls.

Not me. I'll be looking for reasons to go outside.

I know. I'm weird.

But it's summer. And it's hot. For some reason, that does not strike me as earth-shattering news, even if it does bring a smile to my face.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, June 22

The Daily Numbers: 2, age of son of slain Philly Officer Robert Wilson III. Robert Wilson IV was given a party in Delaware County yesterday.

90, age of driver whose car collided with a SEPTA train in Nether Providence yesterday.

3-2 ruling by state Supreme Court that struck down mandatory minimum sentences involving drug sales in school zones.

18 percent liquor tax and 6 percent sales tax that would be slapped on sales of wine purchased online and shipped to Pa., under proposed new state law.

1.2 billion dollar deficit that continues to divide Gov. Wolf and the Republican House and Senate in a budget standoff.

9 percent increase in spending being sought by the governor, for a $31.6 spending plan.

7 percent boost in education spending, to the tune of about $410 million.

3.2 billion dollar cut in property taxes being sought by governor, to be paid for by increases in state income and sales taxes.

4 killed in unrelated shootings in Philadelphia over the weekend.

10 people shot - none fatally - at a cookout in the city.

95, age of Comcast founder Ralph Roberts, who died last week.

9-2 win for the Phillies on Father’s Day over the Cards.

1 run on 6 hits over 5 2/3 innings for Phils starter Adam Morgan.

23 of May, the last day a Phillies starter recorded a win.

25 games without a win for Phils starters.

0-6 mark in 13 starts at Triple A for Morgan before being called up.

3 putts on the 18th green that cost Dustin Johnson the U.S. Open golf crown.

2 straight Majors now captured by Jordan Spieth, who won the Masters in April. He’s now a British Open and PGA Championship away from the “grand slam.”

21, age of Jordan Spieth. Life is not fair.

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

I really wish people would not use the C-word in connectino with Dustin Johnson. Yes, he three-putted to lose the U.S. Open. It happens. It just so happens it happened to him on golf’s biggest stage.

I Don’t Get It: People still don’t believe we need to have a serious conversation about race, even after Charleston. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to those responsible for throwing the party for the 2-year-old son of slain Philadelphia Officer Robert Wilson III in Upper Darby Sunday. A lovely gesture.

Quote Box: “He looks exactly like his dad.”

- Crystal Benson-Faison, mother of Robert Wilson IV and widow of slain Philly Officer Robert Wilson III.

The message from Charleston

How do you explain what happened in Charleston, S.C.?

I'm not talking about what happened last Wednesday, when a racist madman took it upon himself to first sit in a Bible study class for an hour, then open fire on those who welcomed him with open arms.

There is enough that has been said about this unthinkable act of racial hatred.

I refer instead to what happened in the aftermath, and the actions of those who lost family members, and the parish members at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

They did not talk about racism.

They did not talk about guns.

They did not talk about flags.

They did not talk politics.

They talked about forgiveness.

While dealing with broken hearts, they still managed to find the ability to open theirs to the man who caused such grief. If there is a message to be taken from this horrific incident, that might be it.

Certainly, we still have a long way to go when it comes to race relations in this country.

We could do worse than to emulate the words and actions of those most directly affected by this act of pure hate.

Dylann Roof no doubt wanted to drive a wedge between white and black America.

In an ironic twist, he may have opened the door to finally bring us together.

And the good families and people of Charleston, and particularly the Emanuel AME congregation walked right through it.

The question now is whether the rest of us are willing to follow them.

I feel for you, Dustin Johnson

Don't look for me to be critical of Dustin Johnson.

If you don't know who Dustin Johnson is, you're obviously not a golf fan. And you also likely are not aware that Father's Day also aligns itself with the final round of the U.S. Open golf championship.

This year there was something of an added treat, at least for those of us who did not have to play the controversial Chambers Bay course in Washington state. Since the championship was being contested on the West Coast, it meant some prime time golf for fans here in the East.

I was kind of amazed yesterday that because of the three-hour time difference, the final pairing was going off just as we were sitting down to dinner yesterday.

As it turns out, I also played golf yesterday.

It was the perfect Father's Day gift from my son, who paid us a visit for the weekend.

I consider myself a fairly competent golfer, and yet I am constantly in search of 'the secret,' the one swing key that will convert us from duffers to the super-human strikers of the ball we watch on TV every weekend.

I've played all kinds of sports, but I've never been quite as "hooked," nor as frustrated as I am with golf. It's simply a maddening search for an unattainable goal.

Maybe Mark Twain was was right who dubbed it "a good walk spoiled."

It certainly was for me yesterday. I guess that gives me something in common with Johnson, although the stakes for him were just a bit higher. He has the U.S. Open trophy basically in his pocket. He had a putt for eagle to with the title, a birdie would put him into a Monday playoff with Masters champ Jordan Spieth. Of course he three-putted.

Most people will remember that Spieth has now captured the first two Majors of the year, the first person to do it since Tiger Woods back when he really was Tiger Woods. Not me. I'll be thinking about Johnson.

I did my share of that yesterday as well. After our early-morning tee time got rained out, my son and I hit the links after it cleared later in the morning. (Nice forecast by the way. I guess our local TV folks are limited to blowing winter storm forecasts. I could have sworn I heard all day on Saturday how Sunday was going to be a complete washout with as much as 3 inches of rain. It turned out to be a beautiful day).

Just once in my life I would like to play a round of golf and not mishit a shot. Doesn't seem like too much to ask for. I don't even care if I score all that well. I'm never going to be a good putter.

Of course, one mishit shot immediately gets me to thinking I must be doing something wrong. The tinkering with my swing follows, and soon I am completely out of sync.

All of that means I likely will be at the driving range against next weekend, seeking the 'secret' to the golf swing. I don't think Dustin Johnson has that problem.

But he's probably also cursing the game this morning.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Another Flag Day, another anniversary

Thirty-three years goes by pretty quickly when you're having fun.

As of Sunday, that's how long I've been coming to work at the Delaware County Daily Times.

A lot of things have changed over three years. I talk about some of them in my print column this week.

This is not one of them.

My anniversary here at work falls on Flag Day.

And that means something I heard while making that drive into the office so many years ago, and every year since. KYW Newsradio has pretty much been the soundtrack of my life. It's what I do for a living.

And every Flag Day, I look forward to this great piece by KYW legend Bob Nelson. Here's to another 33 years. I'm kidding. I think.

I'm not sure I can handle that many more changes.

I now Tweet, post on Facebook, and generally engage in the delivery of news 24 hours a day.

I write this blog. Back then, no one knew what a blog was. The Internet was still a couple of decades away from being invented by Al Gore

I'm sure there will be more changes along the way.

As usual, we will adapt. That's what we do. At heart, it's still the same thing. Yes, it can be delivered in new ways across several platforms, but it doesn't change our mission.

We still want to be the paper or record for Delaware County.

It's really that simple.

Even after 33 years.

Hamels has to be counting the days until trade

Cole Hamels has to be counting the days until he can get out of town.

Hamels was on the mound for the Phillies yesterday in Pittsburgh. Which means of course that's the Phils' bats take the night off.

I know, you could make the argument that the Phils have been pretty offensive while on offense all year. But it's even more acute when Hamels pitches.

All the Phillies ace did yesterday was blow away the Pirates, striking out 12 and not giving up a run. Of course, the Phils' bats matched that output. They lost in extra innings with a throwing error by Freddy Galvis opening the door to the Bucs' 1-0 win.

Hamels locked up in a pitching duel with former teammate A.J. Burnett, who pitched nine scoreless innings in taming the meek Phils' bats.

Hamels, the subject of nearly non-stop trade rumors since the off-season, now has not won since blowing away the Nationals three weeks ago. Yesterday he was as hot as the weather in a soupy PNC Field, putting down the 11 of the first 12 Pirates he faced.

Hamels should command a king's ransom on the trading block. He just might be the piece that puts a good team over the top.

The Phillies are not a good team. They're barely a professional team. Nowhere is that more acute than at the plate. Over the weekend in Pittsburgh, the Phils put up all of three runs in 33 innings. They went a sickly 1 for 25 with runners in scoring position, and left 24 runners on base.

This isn't something new for Hamels. The Phils never seem to score when he's pitching.

He's got to be counting the days until he can get out of town.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Friday, June 12

The Daily Numbers: 80 chased from their homes when fire hit the Stratford Apartments in Lansdowne Thursday night.

8-1 vote by which Springfield School Board voted to build a new high school near the intersection of Saxer Avenue and Rolling Road.

118-140 million dollar price tax for the new school.

15, age of student with whom a former Garnet Valley teacher had a sexual relationship. William Barber pleaded no contest to the charges yesterday.

1 million dollar cash bail for man charged with shooting at police officer on Bickley Place in Chester, where several suspicious fires have taken place.

329 graduates of Penncrest High School who picked up their diplomas last night.

323 graduates of Penn Wood High.

237 graduates of Chichester High.

290 graduates of Marple Newtown.

10 to 20 years in prison for the so-called ‘Black Madam’ for a fatal butt injection in Philly.

33, age of Eagles offensive guard Evan Mathis, who was released by the team yesterday in a contract dispute.

5.5 million dollars, what Mathis was scheduled to make this year.

2-2 deadlock in NBA finals after Golden State rolled over LeBron James and the Cavs last night.

20 points for James in the loss.

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

Attention all Eagles. Don’t cross Chip Kelly. Don’t believe it? Ask DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy or Evan Mathis.

I Don’t Get It: Another teacher admitting having sex with a student. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all the firefighters who had to battle the elements as well as flames last night after responding to fire that damaged Stratford Apartments in Lansdowne.

Quote Box: “We are the challengers who will challenge climate change, politics and gender equality.” - Emily Evenden, keynote speaker at Penncrest High.

Brace yourself for Turzai vs. Wolf

Welcome to Harrisburg, Mr. Wolf.

So, you think you're having a bad week? Consider yourself lucky. You could be governor of the Keystone State.

Wolf, who rolled over incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett by painting himself as a Jeep-driving non-politician, someone not tainted by the political process, is taking his lumps in the rough-and-tumble of life in Harrisburg.

Last week he saw his much-hyped budget plan get shot down by the House, 193-0. Yes, it was unanimous, even his own Democrats voted against it. Of course, as with everything that goes down in the capital, it's not exactly what it appears. Republicans, who control both the House and Senate, put the entire package of tax hikes Wolf wants to fund his budget, out on the line. Of course, all these people who must run for office every two years gave it a thumb's down. Wolf and the Democrats called it a "political stunt."

While they were still applying ice to that shiner, the governor quickly took another couple of shots to the solar plexus. This week his choice to head the state police got shot down by the Senate. Then Commonwealth Court jumped into the fray, rebuking the governor as overstepping his authority when he fired the new boss of the state Office of Open Records in one of his first acts after taking office.

And I've got news for him. The next few weeks likely aren't going to get a lot better.

The Speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, was in Delaware County yesterday. He was joined by a bunch of labor and elected officials in Marcus Hook to tout the possibility of the region becoming an 'energy hub,' fueled by products from the Marcellus Shale region such as propane, ethane and butane being sent by pipeline to the Sunoco Logistics facility in what was the once-proud Sunoco refinery.

Sunoco Logistics already has material flowing in via their Mariner 1 project. Recently they laid out a proposal for a second pipeline to crisscross the state, ending in Marcus Hook, as part of what they are calling Mariner 2.

After the press conference, Turzai paid a visit to us here in beautiful downtown Primos.

He was almost breathless (and not just from the heat) as he talked about the economic possibilities - including lots of good-paying jobs. He stressed how jobs at the nearby Monroe Energy facility in Trainer are paying as much as $106,000 a year.

And he makes it clear his belief that all of Sunoco Logistics' plans could be in jeopardy should Wolf be successful in levying a new severance tax on natural gas drilling in the state.

Wolf wants to use that revenue to fund as much as $4 billion in new education funding in the state. Turzai says it's not going to happen.

He rejects the argument made by many - including this newspaper - that so long as the gas is here, companies looking to extract it aren't going anywhere.

Instead Turzai wants to talk about the impact fee that was put in place by Gov. Corbett. Hell, he's even willing to concede that it is in fact a tax.

He notes that while the severance tax backers are quick to point out Pennsylvania is the only state without such a levy, those other states do not have the high corporate tax structure already in place in Pa.

He said the Wolf plan in reality could amount to as much as a 25 percent hit for companies in the Marcellus Shale region.

So, with three weeks to go as the state careens toward a July 1 deadline to have a spending plan in place, I asked him to give us a timeline of what is going to happen.

I couldn't resist admitting that - regardless of what else you think about Tom Corbett - you can't argue with the fact that he did deliver four consecutive budgets, on time and without a tax hike.

Turzai seems confident he and his GOP brethren will do the same this year.

At least they will pass one and put it on the governor's desk.

What happens then is up to Wolf.

If I were in the state Legislature, I wouldn't be making any big plans for the July 4th weekend.

Yep, it's summer

I couldn't help smiling just a bit as I walked out the door in the pre-dawn darkness this morning.

Yep, summer is here.

My kind of weather.

Last night when I got home I quickly undressed, donned a pair or shorts and T-shirt and headed for the deck with the biggest glass of iced tea I could find.

Heaven.

Yes, it was hot. And humid. Go ahead, call me crazy (you won't be the first) I love it.

I just went out and retrieved the papers on the sidewalk in front of the office. All I could think of was this is the perfect morning (at least for me), to be out on a golf course. It's my favorite part of the summer.

To be the first person off the tee, with an empty course in front you, wearing a pair shorts, cloaked with the kind of heavy, thick air that makes a golf ball go forever, is just about heaven.

Unfortunately, I'll be stuck in an air-conditioned office all day.

But I know where I'll be tonight.

It will be me, Scott Franzke, those bumbling Phils, the trill of crickets and the hum of air conditioners. I just might have a bit more substantial beverage as well.

Summer is here. Life is good.

It's Chip's way or the highway

If nothing else, Chip Kelly has made one thing perfectly clear to anyone looking to don midnight green.

It's Chip's way or the highway.

Just ask DeSean Jackson, who now is now catching passes for the Washington Redskins.

Or LeSean McCoy, who was sent shuffling off to Buffalo.

Today you can add Pro Bowl guard Even Mathis to the list.

It's not exactly a secret that Mathis has not been happy with the Eagles. He wanted his contract redone and he wanted a raise. Instead Kelly and the Eagles told him to feel free to seek a deal with another team. They claim they got no offers for the veteran offensive lineman.

Yesterday, they shoved him out the door.

Mathis, who was a no-show at the team's recent voluntary organized team activity conditioning sessions, was released.

The Eagles now will be replacing two starters on their offensive line. Right guard Todd Herremans was released earlier in the off-season. Now Mathis has been shown the door.

You have to wonder what Sam Bradford - and his twice reconstructed left knee - thinks about all this.

For now it looks like Allen Barbre and Matt Tobin will line up in those guard spots. Kelly better hope no one on this line gets hurt; there is not a lot of depth here, especially after the Birds did not snag an offensive lineman in the recent NFL Draft.

All of this makes one thing clear. If you don't buy in to what Kelly is selling, he doesn't want you around. Jackson's act wore thin on his coach. Kelly apparently favors a one-cut back, as opposed to McCoy's zigging and zagging looking for the home run.

Kelly has complete control over personnel and the roster, having deposed GM Howie Roseman in a power struggle.

As with most of the moves Kelly has made, I'm left with one thought.

He'd better be right.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, June 11

The Daily Numbers: 30 bucks and his cellphone, how much a thief apparently got from a truck driver in Yeadon before fatally shooting him.

400 million dollars, how much SEPTA is planning to spend on improvements on the system in Delco this summer.

5 billion in capital spending across the entire system, as opposed to not long ago actually thinking of shutting down the Media-Elwyn regional rail line.

69th Street Station, where the West Terminal will be closed to passengers for renovations.

101 and 102 trolleys will be shut down through Sept. 6. Shuttle buses will be in place.

4,000 people ride those trolleys every day.

35,000 daily passengers who use the West Terminal at 69th Street.

1 store, in Concord, where Wawa wants to sell beer.

625 stores in several states operated by the Delco convenience store giant.

1,500 dollar reward for information on who is responsible for condition of Trooper, severely abused dog found on streetin Darby Borough.

100,000 dollars, how much the D.A.’s office says was stolen by one of its own employees.

126,000 dollar grant for Middletown in the 2015 Community Development Block Grant program.

287 graduates from Interboro High School.

3 candidates who will seek the vacant Pa. House seat in the 161st District. Democrat Leanne Krueger-Braneky will face off against Republican Paul Mullen and GOP write-in candidate Lisa Esler.

2 prison escapess from upstate New York who may have been sighted at 30th Street Station in Philly. Cops are investigating.

119-71 vote by the Pa. House for resolution to lift Gov. Wolf’s moratorium on the death penalty.

22 pounds of heroin seized in drug raid in Philly.

5-2 loss for the Phils to the Reds.

3rd time in last 5 series that the Phillies have been swept.

7-23 road mark for the Phils.

7 straight losses on the road.

8 home runs hit by Reds in series; 0 for the Phils.

0-for-21 slump for Chase Utley.

2-2 deadlock in Stanley Cup finals between the Blackhawks as Lightning after Tampa posted 2-1 win last night.

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

I really want to give Chase Utley the benefit of the doubt. He’s not making it easy. I’m not sure how much is left in the tank.

I Don’t Get It: Another teacher charged with abuse of a student, this time at the Phelps Academy in Malvern. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to SEPTA for sinking $400 million into projects in Delco this summer.

Quote Box: “Hoepfully this thug will be behind bars very shortly.” - Sharon Conroy, sister of murder victim Thomas Childs.

Wawa wants into beer sales - at least at one store

There is a huge new development in the push to privatize the sale of booze in Pennsylvania.

Specifically, there is a new player on the scene, a big one and one that calls Delco home.

I'm talking about none other than our very own Wawa.

The convenience store is now looking to do something it has never done before, that is sell beer at one of it stores.

Wawa has asked Concord Township for permission to sell six-packs at its store at 721 Naamans Road in Concord. It would be the first time Wawa has entered the fierce arena of beer sales in Pennsylvania, although they do sell suds at some of their stores in other states.

A hearing on the matter is set for June 30.

This marks a distinct change in Wawa's position. For years every time this situation came up, they indicated they had no interest in selling booze. Then when the liquor privatization debate started to heat up in Harrisburg, they noted they would keep their options open. Now it looks like they're ready to jump into the fray.

For now it appears as if Wawa's push for beer sales is limited to this single store, although if you read between the lines it's not hard to see that expanding, especially as Pennsylvania continues to hotly debate the notion of privatizing alcohol sales.

Local beer distributors, which recently won the right to sell beer in 12-packs, as opposed to by the case only, likely will not be thrilled about the possibility of six-packs being available at the local convenience store. The same goes for local taverns and delis, many of which sell take-out beer, and are limited to six-packs.

All of this stems from the state's arcane laws dealing with the sale of alcohol, which date back to Prohibition days. In short, if you want to buy wine or alcohol, you must visit your local state store. Beer? Well, if you want a case, that means a trip to the local beer distributor or beverage store, although they recently won the right to sell by the 12-pack as well. If you want a six-pack, that for the most part has meant a third trip, this time to the neighborhood tavern or deli.

Some supermarkets, including Acme and Wegmans, recently have been pushing for beer sales, and now offer six- and 12-packs in many stores. Republicans in the state Legislature want to blow the whole thing up and privatize alcohol sales. We're all for that. The unions, as well as Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, are opposed. They favor modernizing the current system, and note that those state stores provide a huge chunk of revenue to the state, which is currently looking at a whopping deficit.

I have always said this comes down to convenience.

I went to school in Colorado, where every 7-Eleven sold cold six-packs, and every supermarket had aisles where you could find just about any wine, beer or spirit you can imagine. I'm not making this up. There are places in the U.S., actually some not far from here, where you can actually pick up a case of beer, a six-pack or a bottle of wine, and put it right in the cart along with your other groceries.

Concord Township seems to be at the heart of this push. Several supermarkets out there, including an Acme, feature beer sales. And a new Wegmans set to open in November will also have a section of the store designated for beer sales. The problem with Wegmans is that it is still not terribly convenient. The beer is in a separate area of the store, set off from the groceries, and you have to pay for it there, you can't simply put it in your cart and pay for it along with the rest of the groceries. You also are limited to buying a 12-pack at a time. If you want two 12-packs (meaning a case), that means taking one out to the car, then returning to the store and grabbing another one. Not exactly what you would call convenient. They also card EVERY person buying beer. They actually scan your license. I'm way past the idea of liking the idea of being carded, although I know why they do it, because of the fear of sales to underage kids. Beer sales at Wawa? Now that sounds convenient to me.

Wawa operates more than 600 stores in several states, including Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and a recent expansion into Florida. Of course, they call Delco home, having originated at the Wood family family farm in Chester Heights. Their corporate headquarters is still located out on Baltimore Pike.

The derive their name from that village. Wawa is the native American name for the goose that also calls this region home.

I think Wawa is about to seriously 'goose' the beer wars and the discussion about the sale of alcohol in Pa.

Do you have a question for Pa. House Speaker Mike Turzai?

The Speaker is doing Delco today.

Pa. House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, who is at the center of the budget storm in Harrisburg, will make a road trip today to visit Delaware County. In particular, Turzai will be in Marcus Hook along with a group of labor and business leaders to tout its potential as an 'energy hub' for the greater region.

That means clearing the way for more Marcellus Shale materials to be pumped into the former Sunoco refinery now being operated by Sunoco Logistics. The company recently announced they are mulling a second pipeline to get more materials such as ethane, butane and to the Hook site.

Not everyone is thrilled about the idea, in particular people who live along the path of the proposed pipelines. Last night Sunoco Logistics officials got an earful out in Honey Brook, in Chester County, by residents opposed to the plan. After the 12:45 p.m. press conference at the Marcus Hook Community Center, Turzai will be here in Primos for a visit with our editorial board.

I have lots to ask him, including the progress of budget talks, the rejection of Gov. Wolf's choice for state police commissioner, and yesterday's court ruling reinstating Erik Arneson as the state's Public Records boss, in the process ruling Wolf overstepped his bounds in dumping him in one of his first acts as governor.

And, of course, no visit with Turzai would be complete with chatting with him about my own personal pet peeve. Turzai happens to be one of the state's leading proponents of privatizing the sale of alcohol, in effect getting Pa. out of the booze business. I'll drink to that. I'll also ask him about a possible huge new player in this issue, with Wawa now applying to sell beer at one of its stores here in Delco.

But enough about me. What do you want to know from Speaker Turzai? Email me your questions at editor@delcotimes.com and I will add them to our list.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, June 10

The Daily Numbers: 16, age of Michael Brodzinski, the Academy Park student and volunteer firefighter who is being credited with saving the life of an umpire at his youth baseball game when he suffered a heart attack.

63, age of truck driver found fatally shot in an industrial park in Yeadon early Tuesday.

2 p.m. Tuesday, when a passerby discovered the body of another shooting victim near the railroad tracks in Darby Borough.

2 million dollar project that will improve the intersection of I-95 and I-476 the Blue Route in Ridley.

70,000 dollars, how much the special election to fill the 161st District state House seat is going to cost.

446 graduates of Ridley High who picked up diplomas yesterday.

Another 256 from Sun Valley.

1.3 million dollars in bogus ink and toner cartridges, what a former Philly Water Department worker pleaded guilty to in fed court yesterday.

5 years probation for a Montgomery County cheer mom who admitted in court she had sex in the back of a car with a 17-year-old soccer player.

15 member panel tackling the state’s education funding issues that says it needs more time to deliver its findings.

4 hit-run accidents in the region this week. Why?

223 million dollars collected from natural gas industry by the state’s impact fee.

3 home runs hit by Reds’ Joey Votto to destroy the Phils last night.

4 home runs in total for the Reds in an 11-2 bludgeoning.

7 earned runs on 7 hits in 6 innings for Phils’s starter Aaron Harang.

40 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists for LeBron James in leading Cavs to 96-91 win over Golden State in NBA Finals last night.

2-1 lead now for the Cavs.

51 years, how long Cleveland has gone without a major sports title.

142 of 154 minutes, what James has logged in the 3 games vs. Golden State.

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

I guess that’s why they call him King James.

I Don’t Get It: What is with the rash of hit-run accidents. Doesn’t anyone stop when they hit someone anymore?

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Michael Brodzinski. The Academy Park student and junior firefighter put his training to good use Monday night when an umpire collapsed at his youth baseball game. Brodzinski used his CPR training to revive the man, saving his life.

Quote Box: “My instincts kind of took over.”

- Brodzinski, talking about his life-saving action.

There's nothing quite like a great headline

One of the reasons I am still at this racket after more than three decades is because of the sheer joy I take from one of the tasks I perform every day.

They are called headlines.

They are the bane of every reporter who has to live with the consequences, who deal with irate readers who say the headline on their story is inaccurate. They usually aren't exactly understanding when the frazzled reporter informs them that they didn't write the headline.

That task is left for editors, people like me.

Even after 33 years in the business, there is still nothing quite like a great headline, and in particular seeing it scream off the front of a tab page.

The business I work in is changing. Much of our emphasis is now on delivering information online. There is not nearly the emphasis on creative headlines online as there are in our traditional print world. In fact, much of what we have done for years in print does not work online. Trust me. It has to do with something called SEO and how people search for information. I know, it's a buzzkill.

I am pondering this topic today because of a man named Vincent Musetto.

I know, you probably have no idea who he is.

I do. He's a kindred spirit.

Musetto is the man who wrote one of the most famous headlines (or heds as we refer to them in the biz) ever penned.

It appeared on the front page of the New York Post, which is famous for its slammer Page One "Woods," or what we at the Daily Times refer to as our Black Line. It's our lead story, because of the amount of black ink we used to use to print it.

Musetto crafted the following gem on a story about a strip bar owner who had been shot and beheaded.

"Headless Body in Topless Bar."

It doesn't get much better than that.

Every time I see that headline, it gets me to thinking about some of the heds I've written over the years.

One of my best was actually not even a word or a sentence. It appeared the morning after Pennsylvania executed a man for the first time in several decades. My front page offering:

R.I.Pa.

I still like that one.

But without question the best hedline I've ever written is also one that never appeared in the Daily Times.

It was for a story about John and Lorena Bobbitt. If you don't know why they are famous, Google them. It will become pretty obvious.

A year or so after their moment of fame, John Bobbitt was interviewed. He said he had moved past the incident and held no ill will toward his ex-wife.

My idea for a hedline?

An overline that said, John to Lorena: And for the lead hed?

NO HARD FEELINGS.

It never appeared in the paper. But the more you think about it, the more it works on a lot of levels.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a front page to start working on for tomorrow.

Well done, young Mr. Brodzinski

There's no shortage of "bad" news in the newspaper every day.

That's one of the reasons I'm particularly happy about today's front page.

We took the time to detail the efforts of Michael Brodzinski. He's a third baseman with the Folcroft team in the Delco Boys Baseball League. The Academy Park student also is a junior firefighter with both Sharon Hill and Darby Fire Co. No. 1.

Monday night he got a chance to put his CPR skills to use when he administered aid to an umpire who had suffered a heart attack.

Well done, young Mr. Brodzinski.

The truth is we had several stories that developed later in the day that could have bumped his story out of the lead spot for today's print edition.

But I wanted to keep Brodzinski as the lead. Young people are always making the paper when they do something wrong.

Unfortunately, they don't always get the same coverage when they do something right.

Michael Brodzinski is a good kid who did a very good thing. He deserved his moment on the front page.

King James

We have a tendency to get a bit parochial in our sports rants here in Philly.

In other words, the NHL season ends when the Flyers are eliminated.

The NBA season? It never started, since the Sixers are offering their very own version of "Tanks for the Memories."

We obsess endlessly on what Ruben Amaro Jr. is or is not doing in remaking the aging Phillies roster.

And, of course, we are all-Eagles, all the time, our very own 365-day-a year obsession.

But every once in a while, we need to step back and take a look at the bigger picture. Like on Saturday when we marveled that American Pharoah was able snap the 37-year Triple Crown drought when he captured the Belmont Stakes.

Today we focus on a two-legged athlete, although what he is doing makes me wonder whether he is indeed human, or even of this world.

I've never been much of a LeBron James fan. Something about someone referred to as "King James" rubbed me the wrong way. And this was before his prime time TV stunt, clearly staged for an ESPN audience, in which he turned his back on Cleveland and decided to "take his talents to South Beach" and the Miami Heat.

Now he's back in Cleveland, attempting to break another drought, one that has seen the proud city of Cleveland capture a major sports title for the first time in more years than anyone can really remember.

That James is doing this with a cast of characters that only a Sixers fan could love only underscores the enormity of what he is accomplishing.

I did not give the Cavs much of a chance against Golden State, the team that amassed the best record in the NBA this year. And that was before they lost Kevin Love and then Kyrie Irving to injury.

Instead, James did what only the very special ones do. He put the city of Cleveland - and the Cavs - on his back and is willing them to victory.

Last night James again dropped 40 points on the Warriors, pushing the Cavs to a 96-91 lead and a 2-1 edge in the NBA Finals. You can argue all you want about James vs. Kobe, or James vs. Michael Jordan.

But if he is able to pull this off, if he's able to end Cleveland's championship drought, it will have to be recognized as one of the truly great individual achievements in sports history.

King James? Maybe they were on to something.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, June 9

The Daily Numbers: 71 years later, Richard Uhler picked up his medals earned in World War II yesterday.

19, how old Uhler was at the time.

2 people charged in connection with man with man whose body was found stuffed in a suitcase in Tinicum.

25-year-old man and 27-year-old woman both facing charges.

438 graduates who picked up diplomas from Haverford High School last night.

2 graduates from Drexel Neumann Academy’s Virtual High School.

3-6 years in prison for a homeless man in connection with burglary in Upper Darby.

32,011 Republicans went to the polls in Delco for the spring Primary.

23,389 Dems make it out to vote.

10 year minimum sentence for a former priest at SS. Simon and Jude parish in Westtown on child porn charges. He entered a guilty plea.

26-22 vote against Gov. Tom Wolf’s pick for head of the state police in Pa.

6-4 loss for the Phils to the Reds last night.

1st loss ever for Cole Hamels to Cincinnati.

13 for 29 hot streak for Maikel Franco.

1st career home run for Ivan DeJesus Jr., son of the former Phillies shortstop.

650,000 dollar deal for pitcher Kevin Correia, signed by Phils yesterday.

9 pick, what Phils used for Cornelius Randolph, being called the best hitter in the draft.

3-1 win for U.S. woman in their World Cup soccer match opener vs. Australia.

3-2 win for the Lightning to take 2-1 advantage over Blackhawks in Stanley Cup Finals.

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

Cody Asche might be less than thrilled to hear that the Phils envision Cornelius Randolph, their top draft pick from last night, as a left-fielder.

I Don’t Get It: Another priest admits guilt in a child porn case. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the graduates from Drexel Neumann Academy in Chester.

Quote Box: “In hardship, there is a treasure trove of opportunity.”

- Haverford Superintendent William Keilbaugh, to Haverford High graduates. Keilbaugh is retiring.

Dems set to pick candidate for 161st race tonight

Delco Democrats will gather tonight to pick their candidate for the special election for the now-vacant 161st District state House seat given up by Joe Hackett.

My money is on Leanne Krueger-Braneky, the very sharp small business expert who lost to Hackett last November.

In the meantime, more than a couple eyebrows were raised at the choice of the Delco GOP for the seat.

Republicans last week endorsed Aston labor leader Paul Mullen, president of the Delaware County AFL-CIO and business manager of IBEW 654.

Some in the GOP are perplexed - if not downright outraged - at the choice. We've already had several letters to the editor loudly offering their dismay with the pick.

For one, Mullen is a longtime labor leader, a position not always closely aligned with Republicans.

He was a backer of Joe Sestak against Pat Toomey, and maybe more importantly, he was part of the team that lined up behind John Kane in his ugly slugfest with Tom McGarrigle for the vacant 26th District state Senate seat last fall.

I wonder if the local Republicans asked McGarrigle, who emerged bruised but victorious in that rough-and-tumble contest, what he thought of Mullen.

Mullen had some less than flattering things to say about McGarrigle during that campaign, and was at the center of one spat that involved a union member and his spouse who appeared in an ad boosting McGarrigle and whether the union put any heat on them for their stance.

Mullen may wind up facing a third-party challenge from within his own party, if not in the special election, maybe in the next primary. And if all that is not enough, try this on for size. The state Bureau of Elections is telling us this special election could wind up costing as much as $70,000.

Ouch.

Too bad Joe Hackett didn't come to the epiphany that his heart was back in Delco - in law enforcement - last fall, or at least in time to have the special election lined up with the spring primary.

Instead, we'll have a special election on Aug. 4.

And we'll find out who the Dems will be running for the seat tonight.

American Pharoah vs. Secretariat

If you care at all about the sport of kings, it is the question you've been asking yourself every since American Pharoah snapped the 37-year drought by winning the Belmont Stakes Saturday and completing the Triple Crown.

How do you think Pharoah would fare against the legendary Secretariat.

To help in the discussion, the Wall Street Journal put together this great video of the two horses' wins in the Belmont side by side.

My opinion? Secretariat would kill him.

More than that, I consider Secretariat one of the 10 greatest athletes of all time. Yes, I know he has four legs. I still consider him an athlete.

And that Belmont run? Well, it's only perhaps the most spectacular two minutes, 24 seconds in sports history, right there beside Franz Klammer's thrilling downhill run in the 1976 Winter Olympics.

You can argue the point, but before you do, check out this documentary done on Secretariat.

Another run-in at Routes 3 & 352

A couple of weeks ago, I had one of the worst feelings you can have while driving.

Yes, those red and blue lights in the rear-view mirror were for me. And I knew why. I knew it was going to be close when the light changed from green to yellow at the intersection of Routes 3 and 352. I still believe the light was yellow - at least when I entered the intersection. Clearly the Westtown-East Goshen officer disagreed. And I have the $170 ticket to prove it.

But he got his point across. Maybe I'm paranoid, but ever since it seems like every green light I come up on flips over to yellow just as I approach.

Which leaves you with the classic decision. I know what the book says. The yellow light means to stop and wait for the next green. That's not the way real life usually works, however. Most people view a yellow light as saying, "Stab it and you can probably make it through."

At a minimum, you have a split decision to either go for it, or hit the brakes.

Last night it happened again - at almost the same intersection. When you go out Route 352 from Granite Run toward Route 3, there are actually two lights that make up the intersection. First you take a left onto Route 3, then if you want to continue on Route 352, you have to take a quick right. There are two separate lights. I got my ticket at the second one.

Last night as I approached the first light, it again flipped to yellow, and in my new driver awareness mode (which is what writing out a $170 check will do to you) I dutifully hit the brakes and prepared to stop.

Which was good except for one thing. I did not take into account the woman in the white SUV behind me. Actually, I had noticed her back at Granite Run. She was right on my tail the whole way and seemed in a huge hurry to get where she was going.

The second I tapped the brakes to stop, I glanced in the rear-view mirror. It's clear this woman had expected me to do what most people do - stab the gas and try to make the light. That's what she did. Only problem was I was in front of her.

My heart sank as I figured she was about to wind up in my back seat. What she did next surprised even me. This wasn't real close. There was no I was going to make this light, let alone her.

Undeterred, she veered back into the right-hand lane, and stabbed the gas. The light was already red. Luckily, no cars on Route 3 had decided to "jump" the light. She blew through and went merrily on her way.

I looked all around. The night I got my ticket, an officer just happened to be sitting at the light when I went through. I was kind of hoping someone would have been around last night.

No such luck.

I sat at the light muttering to myself as I waited for it to turn green.

It took all of a couple minutes.

I can live with that.

But I still with I had that $170 bucks back.