Friday, July 31, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Friday, July 31

The Daily Numbers: 2 small children and a distraught mother taken out of a Marcus Hook home after a tense standoff yesterday.

1 count of driving under influence that earned a man time served to 6 months in jail in the crash that took the life of popular college athlete Dante DeSimone.

6,565 payment to Crime Victims Compensation Assistance PRogram, $1,100 in costs and fines for Jonathan Vanderhorst in the case. 80 hours of community service.

1.35 million dollar grant to Norwood for water infrastructure projects.

522,910 dollar grant being sought for the Delco Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

100th anniversary for Aldan Union Church, which was recognized by borough council.

3 killed and 1 hurt in drag racing incident in Philadelphia.

5, age of girl in Philly taken from her home and brutally beaten in the yard.

4-1 win for the Phillies over the Braves last night.

10 wins in 12 games for Phils since All-Star break.

12 hits banged out by Phils last night.

8 year, $66 million extension for Flyers Jake Voracek.

143 mph, how fast police say New York Jets defensive end was driving.

2-0 series lead for Aston Valley over Narberth in Delco League semis.

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

It’s not official yet, but don’t expect any reversal on the Cole Hamels deal. He’s going to Texas.

I Don’t Get It: Anyone driving 143 mph, let alone a star NFL defensive lineman. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Southeast Delco Tactical response team for defusing what could have been a very ugly scene in Marcus Hook yesterday.

Quote Box: “Every day we are left with pain in our hearts and emptiness in our home.”

- Rita DeSimone, at sentencing for man involved in crash that took life of her son Dante.

So who will win the 161st?

People keep asking me who I think is going to win the hotly contested special election in the 161st state House race.

That's one of the good things about this kind of race - they have the stage to themselves.

Republican Paul Mullen is focusing on going door-to-door pushing his message. He's facing Democrat Leanne Krueger-Braneky and the woman who has really made this race interesting, conservative Republican write-in candidate Lisa Esler.

Esler, a popular Penn-Delco School Board member, and others in the conservative wing of the party were irate at party leaders and the process used to make Mullen the endorsed Republican.

That's what happens when you back a labor leader who has been vocal in his support for Democrats, including Barack Obama, Bob Casey Jr., Joe Sestak, and perhaps most seriously John Kane in his recent knockdown, drag-out war with Tom McGarrigle for the 26th District state Senate seat.

There were a lot of unpleasantries exchanged between labor unions and Republicans. Not everyone, it appears, is willing to forgive and forget. Esler and her group certainly remember, and they've been screaming bloody murder to anyone who will listen that Mullen does not engender what they believe are the true beliefs of the party.

Our op-ed pages continue to be dominated by letters staking out their sides in what has turned into a barn-burner. All of that aside, the key to this race is the same key to any election, especially here in Delaware County.

It's all about turnout.

That tends to run in the Republicans' favor. Their loyalists are more likely to get to the polls, especially in a mid-summer special election that falls during one of the most popular vacation weeks of the year.

And while Dems now actually outnumber Republicans across the county, that does not hold true in the 161st. Republicans still have the edge. If Mullen and the GOP gets the faithful to the polls, he should persevere.

But Esler remains the X-factor. It's entirely possible she could siphon off enough votes to open the door to a victory for the Democrat Krueger-Braneky.

So who wins?

I still say it's Mullen, but much closer that anyone thinks.

Just don't put the house on it.

Don't fall for bogus papal rail pass deal

Well, that didn't take long.

I kind of figured there would be no shortage of scammers looking to take advantage of the massive interest in the pope's visit to our area in late September.

I wasn't wrong.

There are reports this morning that an item has popped up on Craigslist touting "early access" to those prized papal passes SEPTA is using for the regional rail system for those two days on Sept. 26-27.

Don't but them. It's bogus.

SEPTA spokesman Jerry Williams assures that no sales will take place until the lottery kicks off at 12:01 a.m. on Monday. Those interested in the passes will have until 11:59 Monday night to put their name into the lottery.

Everyone has an equal chance of hitting the lottery - and scoring the prized ducats.

In the meantime, the region seems to be dealing with a case of high anxiety when it comes to the visit by Pope Francis.

And don't forget to pick up a copy of the Sunday Times for a complete rundown on SEPTA's plans for the regional rails in Delco for the papal visit. We'll tell you everything you need to know.

No official word on Cole; Phils continue to win

Cole Hamels is still a Phillie.

Technically.

In what has to be the longest-unfolding trade in MLB history, there still has been no official word on the deal that will send him to the Texas Rangers.

In fact, Jake Diekman, the left-handed reliever who is also in the deal, was actually in uniform last night.

That does not mean Hamels will be on the hill for the Phils tonight. Expect press conferences in both Arlington and South Philly.

In the meantime, those confounding Phillies continue to win. Last night they posted a 4-1 win over the Braves.

Every Phillie in the starting lineup managed at least one hit to support Aaron Harang, making his first start since coming off the disabled list. He managed to snap a losing streak that stretched back through his last eight starts.

Jack McCaffery notes the key to the mega deal for Hamels for the Phillies can be found in just how The Phils are now 10-02 since the All-Star Break.

Guess the Eagles will just have to wait.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Silence not golden in 161st race

We used our editorial page to talk about the "Sounds of Silence" being heard in the special election for the 161st state House seat being vacated by Joe Hackett.

I say that because the endorsed Republican, Paul Mullen, has decided to skip two public forums. The League of Women Voters actually scrapped their event after Mullen said he would not be able to make it. Democrat Leanne Krueger-Braneky was confirmed as a participant. Write-in candidate Lisa Esler was not invited because that League has a long policy of not inviting anyone who is not on the ballot.

I'm willing to give Mullen the benefit of the doubt on this one. The date got shuffled a couple of times, and Mullen says he actually shifted his schedule once only to find out the event had been moved to another night.

The League says Mullen didn't reply to several overtures they made.

On Sunday a group called Delco Debates will hold a forum for all three candidates. Again Mullen says he won't be able to make it.

I get the distinct feeling this has a lot more to do with Esler than any scheduling conflict Mullen might have. This is basic politics.

Mullen is the endorsed Republican. That decision angered a group in the GOP who didn't like the fact that the party was now getting into bed with a longtime labor leader and a guy who had backed Barack Obama, Joe Sestak and even John Kane in his contentious scrap with Republican Tom McGarrigle for the 26th District state Senate seat.

Those people found a candidate in Esler, a popular member of the Penn-Delco School Board.

Mullen does not want to give any sense of credence to the Esler campaign. In effect, he's running against both the Democrat and the write-in.

The GOP fear is that Esler could siphon off enough votes from Mullen on the GOP ticket to open the door for Krueger-Braneky to eke out a win.

So it's likely there will be an empty chair at Sunday's event where Mullen could be sitting.

As we said in today's editorial, the silence is deafening.

Thanks, Cole: Hamels made us winners

OK, we can start the Eagles season.

Cole Hamels is no longer a Phillie.

Several reports overnight indicate the Phillies have dealt their ace left-hander to the Texas Rangers for a slew of prospects. Jake Diekman also is heading to Texas in the deal.

The deal is expected to be announced officially Thursday morning.

Everyone knew it was coming; that doesn't make it any less jarring.

An era is ending. An era when we were champions.

And make no mistake, Hamels is the reason why. Without him there is no World Series championship in 2008. No parade. No end to our long championship drought. And no infamous Chase Utley 'World Bleeping Champions.'

The Phillies did not win a title with Roy Halladay. Or Cliff Lee. They did with Cole Hamels.

He was ridiculed for the way he talked, belittled for his "California cool."

But he went to the mound every five days and almost always gave the Phillies a quality start, even when all too often the Phils' bats fell silent every time he took the mound.

Perhaps the saddest thing is that Philly fans were deprived of giving Hamels the kind of send-off he deserved, especially after he put an exclamation point on his Phillies career by tossing a no-hitter at the Chicago Cubs last Saturday night in Wrigley.

He was supposed to be on the mound tonight when the Phils returns to Citizens Bank Park. That had already been pushed back to Friday night, but most expected Hamels to be dealt before the 4 p.m. trade deadline.

It would have been nice to see one more packed house in South Philly offer a final salute to Hamels.

I have a standing rule about those guys who formed the heart of that 2008 team. I will never boo Hamels, nor Chase Utley or Ryan Howard. I know they all make ridiculous amounts of money, and that, in the case of Utley and Howard, their best years are clearly in the rear-view mirror.

But they gave us something we hungered for for years. They gave us a parade.

They made us winners.

It's been awhile since we felt that way.

Thanks, Cole.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, July 29

The Daily Numbers: 24 hours, how long you will have on Monday to sign up for the lottery to win 1 of those prized SEPTA regional rail passes for the weekend of the visit by Pope Francis.

175,000 passes being sold for each day. 250, how many SEPTA sold before their computers melted down under the demand last week.

10 bucks per ticket, with each ‘winner’ of the lottery being eligible to buy 10 tickets.

6 of August, when the winners will be notified by email that they are eligible to buy tickets.

24,000, how many riders usually use the regional rails on a typical Saturday.

18,750 on Sunday.

66,500 on most workdays.

75 cents per pass sold for TicketLeap, the Philly company that is handling the lottery for SEPTA.

110,000 dollars, how much SEPTA paid CapTech, the firm that designed the system that imploded last week.

750,000 3-day passes for subways, trolleys and buses good for Sept. 26-28. Riders also can use tokens and regular passes for the rest of the system, but not the regional rails. You must have one of the special papal passes to use the rails that weekend.

16,000 dollar theft that earned a former county probation officer 11 1/2 to 23 months in prison.

27, age of shooting victim in Chester clinging to life.

10 shootings in Chester in the last 4 days.

36 inch by 28 inch replica of a Picasso painting on display in Media stolen.

36, age of longtime nurse at the Pocopson Center, the Chester County retirement center, charged with stealing morphine and pills.

2 new hands for boy who lost both his to an infection, with the operation being done at Children’s Hospital.

30 years, how long Jonathan Pollard spent in prison for selling secrets to Israel. He’s being paroled in November.

17 saves in 17 opportunities this year for Jonathan Papelbon, who the Phillies traded to the Washington Nationals last night.

342 career saves for Papelbon, who happens to hold the Phils’ all-time saves mark with 123.

7-6 record for the guy the Phils got, 22-year-old Nick Pivetta.

3.02 ERA in 18 games, including 17 starts.

9-1 mark for the Phils since the All-Star break, after 3-2 win over Toronto last night, with Ken Giles in closer role.

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

Papelbon is gone, look for Cole Hamels to be next out the door. But the Phils are still winning.

I Don’t Get It: Jonathan Papelbon. A great closer? Absolutely. Am I glad he’s gone. Absolutely.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to SEPTA for the notion of the lottery to buy special papal passes for the regional rails. Probably the fairest way to do it.

Quote Box: “Everyone has the same chance of being chosen.”

- SEPTA spokesperson Jerry Williams, on lottery for special papal rail passes.

Do you have a prayer of hitting SEPTA's lottery?

You have about as much chance of scoring one of those prized papal passes for the regional rail system as you do of hitting the lottery.

Literally.

SEPTA yesterday rolled out Plan B when it comes to selling tickets for the regional rails for the two-day visit of Pope Francis Sept. 26-27.

Actually on Monday they're not selling any tickets at all. They learned that lesson the hard way. They tried online sales last week, only to see their computers melt down under the demand.

Yesterday they informed the public that they will have all day on Monday - from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. - to get in on a lottery for the opportunity to buy tickets.

SEPTA says there is no need to jump on the computer seconds after midnight to get your application in. You will have the same chance no matter when you put your application in, so long as you get it in sometime during that 24-hour period.

SEPTA has hired a private outfit to run the lottery, including vetting all the entries for duplicates and people looking to game the system.

The winners will be notified on Thursday if they're one of the lucky winners.

SEPTA still plans to sell 175,000 tickets for each day, at $10 a pop. Those who hit the lottery can purchase as many as 10 passes. So how long do you think it will take them to show up on eBay and how much do you think they will be going for.

Don't forget to pick up a copy of the Sunday Times for a full rundown on SEPTA's plans for Delaware County for the momentous visit by Pope Francis, which will culminate a week of activity tied to the World Meeting of Families.

News, sports & The Brady Factor

Cole Hamels is still a Phillie - for now. Jonathan Papelbon is not.

The Phillies traded their disgruntled, All-Star closer to the Washington Nationals yesterday for Double A pitcher Nick Pivetta, who has managed to compile a 7-6 record, with a 3.02 ERA in 18 games, including 17 starts. He’s slated as a possible No. 3 or 4 starter.

Lost in all that is the fact that the Phillies won again last night - getting another solid start from lefthander Alex Morgan against a powerful Toronto Blue Jays lineup stacked with right-handed hitters that had been devouring southpaws all season.

Morgan learned just how powerful pretty quickly. Leadoff hitter Devon Travis hit the second pitch Morgan offered out of the park.

Morgan also escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second, and then tamed the Jays' bats.

Ken Giles, the newly anointed closer, slammed the door on Toronto to preserve a 3-2 win.

And yet, none of this is what captured my attention from the world of sports as I drove home last night.

Instead, I was fascinated by this.

KYW Newsradio 1060 now does a simulcast of the CBS Evening News at 6:30. Last night the lead story was not the Iran nuke treaty, not parole for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, not even Donald Trump.

The lead story on the network news last night was Tom Brady.

Such is the power and allure of the NFL.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced yesterday the four-game suspension of the Super Bowl MVP QB of the Patriots was being upheld. Brady is planning to appeal through the NFL Players Association.

Brady seems intent on trying to clear his name, to remove the stigma of "cheater" that now shrouds all of his accomplishments. I guess real news will just have to wait.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, July 27

The Daily Numbers: 5 bank robberies under investigation in Delco.

2 times in several weeks the Santander bank in Yeadon has been hit.

1 forum nixed and 1 that will feature only 2 of 3 candidates in the special state House 161st District election.

41, age of John Cooke, new president at Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast High School in Upper Darby.

11 acres site on Highland Avenue in Chester that will be new home to Chester Charter School for the Arts.

500 students who are currently attending classes at warehouse in Chester Township.

200 special papal rail passes sold by SEPTA. They cancelled a press conference yesterday afternoon to announce when they would resume.

83, age of true crime author Ann Rule, who died yesterday.

2 killed, 7 injured in another violent night in Philadelphia.

2 states involved in chase of vehicle that went from South Philly to New Jersey and back again last night.

5 days until Eagles report for Training Camp on Sunday.

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

Are you ready for another Eagles season? Or do you want to savor the sudden rebirth of the Phillies?

I Don’t Get It: SEPTA first announced a press conference to talk about restarting ticket sales for the regional rails for the pope visit, then cancelled it. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to John Cooke, the Drexel University official who ahs been tapped as the new president of Bonner-Prendie High School. He has big shoes to fill in the Rev. James Olson.

Quote Box: “I want to honor the traditions of the past and carry the state forward as one.”

- John Cooke, new boss at Bonner-Prendie.

Sounds of Silence in 161st race

In my Monday column, I joked about the possibility of holding a special election and nobody coming out to vote.

It was in reference to the special election set to fill the 161st state House seat vacated by Joe Hackett.

Maybe I asked the wrong question.

What if they held a debate and nobody came?

Well, that's true for at least one of the candidates.

In case you haven't been paying attention, here are the three candidates: Republican Paul Mullen is facing Democrat Leanne Krueger-Braneky and write-in candidate Lisa Esler.

We have learned that Mullen, citing scheduling problems, has indicated he will not attend either of two candidate forums this week. You can get all the details here.

The League of Women Voters actually scrapped their forum, which would have featured Mullen and Krueger-Braneky, after failing to hear back after repeated overtures to Mullen. The League says they do not invite candidates who are not on the ballot. Since Esler is running a write-in campaign, she was not included in their event.

But a group called Delco Debates is holding a public forum on Sunday for all three candidates.

Mullen says he won't be able to make that one either.

The guess here is that Mullen wants no part of sharing a stage with Esler, since her write-in campaign is very likely to cost him votes.

That prompted the Krueger-Braneky camp to fire off a press release yesterday challenging Mullen to a debate.

Despite Democrats now outnumbering Republicans in the county, in the 161st District the GOP still holds the advantage. I'm sure Mullen is simply banking on the Party being able to get their faithful to the polls and deliver a win, no muss, no fuss. And certainly no debating.

I hope Krueger-Braneky is not holding her breath waiting for a response.

For the Mullen camp, the "Sounds of Silence" could stand as their campaign jingle.

Another tough day for SEPTA

I have to feel for Jerri Williams. Yesterday probably wasn't her best day.

I first got to know Jerri years ago when she worked in communications with the FBI. She was our contact as we followed cases through the court system.

These days she runs media relations for SEPTA.

You might remember that last week the transit giant initially rolled out their plans to sell special passes for the regional rails to be used on the two days of the visit by Pope Francis in late September.

The tickets are only being sold online. Minutes after the website went online, it imploded under an avalanche of people trying to access the site. After about an hour, SEPTA pulled the plug on the site and said they would work on it to get rid of the glitches. Only about 200 of the 175,000 tickets that will be available each day actually were sold.

Yesterday morning, SEPTA announced a 3 p.m. press conference to detail their plans to restart the online sales. They had promised to give the public at least 24 hours notice before putting the prized ducats back on sale. But about an hour later they announced that the press conference was off, that they were still tying up some loose ends, and they might be ready to announce their plans later in the week.

This whole thing has been a bit of a PR nightmare, and I'm sure Williams has had better days.

At the same time, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter was holding a press conference downtown to refute several maps that have turned up online purporting to show fences or other security perimeters tied to the pope's visit. Nutter assured everyone those plans have not yet been finalized.

I guess that gives him something in common with SEPTA.

Things seem to be getting a bit harried in terms of the planning for that big weekend on Sept. 26-27.

Maybe it's time for everyone to take a deep breath and relax.

That would include you, Jerri. I'm thinking of you.

A beautiful new intersection

I did something this morning I have not done in several weeks.

I drove through the new intersection of Providence Road and Route 252 in Upper Providence.

Even in the pre-dawn darkness, I can tell you it's really beautiful.

Now, of course, I realize that all that blacktop is probably not a lot of people's cup of tea.

But for someone who maneuvers that section of road every morning, it was a joy.

It's part of the huge project to redo Route 252 along Rose Tree Park and up through Rose Tree Road and the Media Bypass. It's now four lanes wide, along with a fifth, middle turn lane.

The 'V' where Providence Road split off from Route 252 had been closed for several weeks to redo the intersection. Yes, I can admit I "sneaked" through Springton Lake Middle School a couple of days before altering my route.

As you approach Route 252 on Providence Road, you can no longer use that little cattle chute that forced you to merge into oncoming traffic. Instead now you come to a light, complete with turn lanes, that allows you a much easier access to Route 252.

I'm not an architect nor a traffic expert, I'm just a harried editor who appreciates it when a long-awaited job is completed.

A huge thumb's up to PennDOT and all those involved in this project.

Oh, lest I forget, how did I come to learn that my normal route into work was open again? Why, I read it in the newspaper, of course, courtesy of our correspondent Susan Serbin and her report from the Upper Providence supervisors meeting that was in the Monday paper.

Now, if someone wanted to resurface the rest of Providence Road out to Route 3, I would not complain a bit.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, July 27

The Daily Numbers: 2 suspects being sought in armed holdup of Aston CVS store.

26, age of man facing charges as ‘one-man crime wave’ in Drexel Hill section of Upper Darby.

3 candidates looking to fill the 161st District state House seat given up by Republican Joe Hackett.

4 of Aug., when voters in 161st go to polls.

7 suspects busted as ‘travelers’ - suspects who travel in order to have sex with children - by the Delco Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

37.4 million trips recorded on regional rail lines by SEPTA in fiscal 2015, that’s a record.

2 percent uptick over 2014.

22, age of Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, who died Sunday.

1 dead, 1 injured in hit-run crash in Juniata Park section of Philadelphia Sunday.

11-5 win for the Phillies over Cubs Sunday to complete another series sweep.

3 straight series the Phils have won.

8-1 mark compiled since the All-Star break.

17 hits for the Phils.

0 hits allowed by Cole Hamels on Saturday night.

13 strikeouts and 129 pitches for Hamels in recording his 1st career no-hitter.

13th no-hitter in Phillies’ team history.

1st win recorded by rookie Aaron Nola.

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

The Phillies are cooling the jets of Eagles fans waiting for the start of training camp next weekend.

I Don’t Get It: Paul Mulllen apparently is not interested in appearing on stage with write-in candidate Lisa Esler in the 161st state House special election. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the staff at the Media-Upper Providence Library, as well as local firefighters, who are showing how to retain services while your building is being knocked down and a new structure put in place.

Quote Box: “It is just being a good neighborand helping neighbors and working together.”

- Scott Price, President of Media Fire & Hook & Ladder Co., on helping out the local library with a temporary home.

How SEPTA plans to get 10,000 people on board trains at Primos Station

This week we will be taking an in-depth look at SEPTA's plans to get people from Delaware County in and out of Philadelphia for the two-day visit of Pope Francis in September.

I think I can safely sum it up in two words:

Brace yourself.

The Daily Times will be at ground zero for his massive project, because our plant literally sits next to the Media-Elwyn regional rail line, just a block from the Primos Station.

It also will be one of the few stops actually open on the line those two mornings.

SEPTA spokesman Frank Kelly says SEPTA expects as many as 10,000 people to board trains at the Primos stop. They envision 1,000 people getting on each train starting at 5 a.m.

SEPTA will be using lessons learned from the Phillies championship parade back in 2008, when many trains on the regional rail lines filled up very early at western stops and literally blew right past many stations where throngs of fans were waiting to board.

This time they will limit the number of stations being used. Primos will be one of them. There will be two sessions - early and late - for people to use to go into the city Saturday and Sunday mornings.

The Daily Times will become something of an island, with both Mildred Avenue, the street that goes back to our plant from Providence Road, and Cottonwood Lane, which gets you to us from Oak Avenue, being shut down.

In fact, our front parking lot could wind up as a command center for SEPTA and police overseeing the situation. What SEPTA has in mind is something of a cattle chute for the huge crowds that will descend on the site. What they ideally would like is for people to be dropped off on Providence Road at Mildred. They would then walk up Mildred, past our plant, turn right on Cottonwood and board the trains there.

The prized parking spots along Cottonwood that are snapped up early each morning by commuters won't be available. SEPTA is urging people not to be dependent on parking here in Primos, but instead have someone drop you off.

There also could be road closures on Oak Avenue, likely at Providence and somewhere near St. Eugene's Church.

Then there's 69th Street Terminal, which will be a whole different challenge.

We'll have all the details this week.

I'll resist saying that I hope it goes better than the effort to sell those special rail passes for SEPTA. Those are expected to go back on sale again sometime this week.

Remember, you will not be able to board the trains those two days without the special passes.

Stay tuned.

Things are heating up in the 161st race

Paul Mullen and Delco Republicans have a problem.

And it's not necessarily Leanne Krueger-Braneky, the Democrat seeking the 161st state House seat vacated by Joe Hackett. Mullen is the endorsed Republican.

He certainly is worried about Krueger-Braneky, who lost to Hackett last November.

But he has another - maybe even bigger - problem.

Her name is Lisa Esler.

I talk about it today in my print column.

The election is a week from tomorrow, Aug. 4, smack dab in the middle of one of the biggest vacation days of the year. Key to this race will be getting people to the polls to vote.

Is it possible that Esler could siphon off enough votes to swing the race to Krueger-Braneky.

This will be a very interesting week in the 161st.

Forget the Eagles; how 'bout dem Phils!

We interrupt the start of Eagles training camp for this breaking news alert: It's still baseball season.

And the local team is starting to look like they can play this game.

Sure, Gang Green is hyperventilating over next weekend's start of Eagles training camp.

But the Phillies have decided to reclaim part of the spotlight.

They've been on fire since the All-Star break, posting a 8-1 record in the second half.

And then Cole Hamels provided an exclamation point on Saturday night by tossing a no-hitter at the Chicago Cubs.

Yesterday it was Aaron Nola's turn, taming the Cubbies as the Phils bats suddenly turned into Murderers Row.

Now all eyes will be on the front office as Ruben Amaro Jr., Pat Gillick and Andy MacPhail entertain offers for Hamels. Saturday night's no-no could not have come at a more opportune time for the Phils, especially since Hamels had looked horrid in his previous two starts.

His value will never be higher.

I hate to see Hamels leave, he's probably the single biggest reason we had a parade here back in 2008. Remember, that team did not feature either Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee. It was Hamels who was the stud, snagging MVP awards in both the World Series and NLCS.

The Phils can't afford to make the same mistake they've made before, allowing this hot streak to cloud their thinking. This team still needs a shakeup. They need to get the max deal for Hamels. Jonathan Papelbon has to go. If they can get someone to take on Ryan Howard's contract, they should do it.

But suddenly baseball is fun again in Philly.

The Eagles will have to wait.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, July 23

The Daily Numbers: 50,000 dollar reward for information on the death of Nadia Malik, posted by her brother.

18 months since the Marple woman’s body was found in a car parked in downtown Philly.

300 jobs being filled by Aldi for their new store in what used to be the Bottom Dollar site in Lansdowne.

61, age of Wayne woman charged with heroin sales on the Main Line.

250 baggies of heroin police say they purchased from her in a sting operation.

0, what it costs Chester residents to use the community pool at Memorial Park this summer. The city is waiving fees.

4-3 vote in Media to waive permit fees for construction of new library.

27 million dressers from Ikea that the company will provide brackets so customers can attach them to walls.

2 children, including a boy from West Chester, have been killed in incidents in which the dressers tipped over.

1, as in No. 1, where Wawa sits in national poll of convenience stores.

16, age of teen clipped by train in Darby borough last night. He is expected to be fine.

12 stab wounds for a Philly prison officer in confrontation with inmate.

3 people fatally shot in Philly last night.

10 innings, how long it took Phils to get a win over the Rays.

2 straight series the Phils now have won.

5-1 mark for the Phils since the All-Star break.

2 scoreless innings for Jonathan Papelbon to get the win.

2 straight games missed by Maikel Franco.

2-1 loss for U.S. in CONCACAF Gold Cup play.

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

Whatever the Phillies did on the All-Star break is working. They’ve been on fire since.

I Don’t Get It: A 61-year-old Main Line woman has been charged as a heroin dealer. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Upper Darby’s 69th Street and the latest arrival, the Studio Movie Grill.

Quote Box: “Somebody’s got to know something.”

Khaled Malik, brother of Nadia Malik, on his sister’s mysterious death.

Sestak about to go back in the underdog role

Joe Sestak has Pennsylvania Democrats right where he wants them.

Lining up against him.

No doubt Bob Brady and party leaders are congratulating themselves for apparently successfully completing their 'Anybody But Sestak' campaign.

After failing to coax several folks into the race for the nomination to challenge the former Delco congressman in the primary for the right to face Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, it looks like they have their woman.

Katie McGinty, chief of staff for Gov. Tom Wolf, yesterday resigned her post. It is expected she will announce her intention to seek the Democratic nomination in the Senate race.

The Dem bosses should take heed of that old saw, "be careful what you wish for."

That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with McGinty, even if she did do a quick El Foldo in her race for the Dem nomination for governor, left in the backwater wake behind Wolf's bold, early $10 million television campaign.

But Democrats have been down this road with Sestak once before.

They wanted him to step aside when longtime Republican Sen. Arlen Specter read the writing on the wall, realized he was going to lose a Republican primary to the conservative Toomey, and promptly switched parties.

He was welcomed with open arms by party leaders, including President Barack Obama, his old Senate buddy Vice President Joe Biden, and Philly powerhouses Gov. Ed Rendell and Brady.

There's only one thing they didn't count on.

Joe Sestak.

The retired admiral dug in his heels and spit in the eyes of the party brass. He knocked off Specter in the primary before falling to Toomey in a very close race.

Now he'll tangle with McGinty.

One thing's for certain. The cost of finding a Democratic challenger to Toomey just went up.

And that could be a problem for Sestak.

The guy who showed longtime Delco Republican Congressman Curt Weldon the door is lagging in terms of fundraising. On Wednesday he reported he had raised $727,729 in the period April 1 to June 30, and has $2,165,861 on hand in his war chest. In the meantime Toomey raised $2.2 million in the quarter and is sitting on more than $8 million.

In other words, Toomey raised more in the quarter than Sestak has in total.

That's not a good sign, and underscores Dem leaders' belief that Sestak has trouble raising money.

It also means Democrats will spend a ton of money just deciding on a candidate next spring, let alone going up against that Toomey war chest in the fall.

None of that is likely to deter the admiral.

He used to bucking the odds.

And his own party.

He's got 'em right where he wants 'em.

Wawa is No. 1, except in beer sales

This weekend I will be in Martinsburg, W. Va., to help my son move into a new place.

In other words, I'll be in Sheetz country.

I'll try not to snicker.

In case you missed it yesterday, Delco's own Wawa was named the No. 1 convenience store in America.

That's correct. The folks who started out with that little farm in Chester Heights, and a single store in the Folsom section of Ridley Township, is not top dog when it comes to convenience stores.

The competition between Wawa, kings of the road in the eastern part of Pa., and Sheetz, which dominates in parts out in Harrisburg and farther west, is intense.

Customers are loyal.

Ask anyone who has moved away from the area and the one thing they all will tell you they miss is Wawa. Guess people take that 'Gottahava' slogan pretty seriously.

Ironically, the one item I depend on Wawa to deliver actually wound up in a tie in that survey of 7,000 consumers done by market Forfce Information.

Sheetz and Wawa tied for the No. 1 spot when it comes to coffee.

You can have Dunkin' (my wife's favorite) as well as Starbucks (with that burned taste, a although I do like their new blonde offering), I will always be a Wawa guy when it comes to my java. Nothing fancy. I don't need any latte or frappacino or iced this or that. I just want a black 12-ounce coffee with two sugars.

Of course, I occasionally want something a bit stronger, and that's where Sheetz has a decided edge.

The first time I visited my son in West Virginia, the first thing I did when we got into town was walk into the Sheetz store. I wasn't looking for coffee.

I was looking for something a bit stronger.

Yes, most of the Sheetz stores out there have a walk-in cooler with cold six-packs of beer.

You don't have to go into a separate part of the store. You don't have to pay for it at a separate register. You can grab a six-pack, along with anything else you might want in the store, walk up to the cash register and pay for it all at the same time.

Wawa is looking to stick its toe into the waters in the increasingly competitive area of beer sales here in Pennsylvania.

They have applied to sell beer at their store on Naamans Creek Road out in Concord. The hearing was supposed to be this week but was delayed until Aug. 4.

Of course, this being Pennsylvania, Land of Giants, it still won't be what I would call "convenient."

Just as the supermarkets that are now selling beer, Wawa will have to construct a separate part of the store for the beer sales. Gottahava?

Sure, but with the normal bureaucratic bungling that is the nameplate of Pennsylvania.

For now Wawa says it plans only to sell beer at this one site, but it's not hard to read between the lines. If it's successful there (anyone want to bet against it) Wawa indicates they will consider expanding sales to other stores.

In terms of the state, the battle to privatize the sale of wine and alcohol seems to be bottled up in the ongoing budget standoff between Gov. Tom Wolf and Republicans in the state Legislature.

Hey, at least we can brag that Wawa is No. 1. They are a Delco business icon, and part of the landscape of the Delaware Valley. Sheetz, your goose is cooked, courtesy of that Canadian goose that calls Delco home.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, July 22

The Daily Numbers: 10 minutes and 3 towns, how long police chased a suspect who was eventually shot on Route 291 near the Boeing plant in Ridley yesterday.

20 years, how long a United Artists movie theater was located on 69th Street in Upper Darby. This week a new dine-in movie house will open at that spot, continuing the business boom on the Upper Darby business corridor.

6 million dollar project to renovate the site, which will feature 900 reclining seats.

6-12 years in prison for Philly man in sexual assault on young girl.

44.4 million dollars, 5-year deal between Delaware County and CEC to run the county prison back in 2012.

4 of August, when Concord Township now says it will rule on Wawa’s request to sell beer at 1 location.

2 six-packs at a time, what you will be able to purchase to go with your Shorti.

54,000 customers who visited SEPTA site minutes after it went online to sell special passes for regional rail lines for 2 days of papal visit in September. It crashed and yesterday SEPTA said it is still working on a fix. Sales will not resume this week.

4 hours of talks yesterday between Gov. Tom Wolf and GOP leaders in the Pa. budget standoff. No deal yet.

6 strong innings for young Phillies stud pitcher Aaron Nola in his MLB debut.

1 run on 5 hits, to go with 6 strikeouts and 1 walk.

1-0 loss. Nola gave up homer to opposing pitcher Nathan Karns, which is all the Rays needed.

28,703 fans at Citizens Bank Park for Nola’s debut.

8,500 tickets sold since Friday, when team announced Nola would be on the hill.

1-1 tie for Union with Red Bulls in U.S. Open Cup play, then 4-3 Union win on penalty kicks. .

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

Welcome Aaron Nola. Phillies fans desperately needed a little hope. The rookie provided that with a strong outing in his debut last night.

I Don’t Get It: Base-running blunders might have contributed to Phils being shut out.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Delco icon, named America’s No. 1 convenience store in a survey.

Quote Box: “It went quick.”

- Chester top cop Joe Bail, after chase and shooting of suspect on Route 291.

Wawa's No. 1, but not in beer sales, at least not yet

You can stick a cork in those plans to snag a cold six-pack at that Wawa in Concord Township.

At least for a few weeks.

Township officials yesterday afternoon announced that last night's expected ruling on the convenience store's application to sell beer at their store on Naamans Creek Road was on hold until Aug. 4.

No reason was given for the delay.

The move would be a first for the Delco giant, which has not as yet joined the stampede of many grocery stores to get in on beer sales in Pa. Years ago Wawa actually did sell beer at a store near the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philly, but that hit the skids when they ran into trouble with sales to underage kids.

They also sell suds at stores in Virginia in Florida, but have not yet dipped their toe back into the market here in Pa.

Like supermarket sales, Wawa would face some limits. Sales would be restricted to a separate part of the store, and customers would be limited to buying two six-packs at a time.

For now, Wawa says this is being proposed only for this store, but it's not hard to see it spread quickly if it turns out to be popular with customers.

Raise your hand if you think the ability to run in and grab a cold six on the way home or with your shorti appeals to you? Thought so. In the meantime, the Delco icon did get some good news.

They've been named America's top convenience store in a study of 7,000 consumers at Market Force Information.

They edged out last year's winner, QuikTrip, which is based in Oklahoma, and also their Pennsylvania rival, Sheetz.

SEPTA's plans go off the tracks

Derailed.

That's probably the easiest way to describe SEPTA's plans to sell those special passes for their regional rail lines on the two days of the visit by Pope Francis in late September.

The transit agency's computers melted down under an avalanche of requests minutes after they went online Monday morning.

Yesterday SEPTA said they would not try again this week, and might even bring in an outside agency to help with the sales. You can get all the details here.

This is a fairly critical element to what should be the spectacular two-day finale to the week of the World Meeting of Families on Sept. 26-27.

Perhaps as many as 2 million people will be trying to get into the city those two days. Driving is being discouraged. SEPTA's rail lines will be jammed. There will be distinct restrictions on when riders can use the system and from a limited number of stations.

You will not be able to board the regional rails without the special $10 tickets.

Monday's events certainly did not engender confidence.

Make no doubt, from a logistical standpoint, this event will tax just about everyone in the region.

We talk about that in our editorial today.

Perhaps patience might be the one thing all of us will have to use.

Starting now.

Nola now knows how Cole Hamels feels

Aaron Nola, meet Cole Hamels.

The Phillies new phenom was lived up to the hype last night, unfortunately the Phils' bats must have thought it was another ace on the hill.

The Phillies are notorious for giving next to no run support for staff ace Cole Hamels.

Last night it was the 22-year-old Nola's turn.

He dazzled in six strong innings, making only one mistake in scattering 5 hits over 6 innings. He struck out 6 and walked just one. Unfortunately, one of those hits was to the opposing pitcher for the Rays. Nathan Karns went down and golfed a pitch over the fence in left field. That would be all the Rays needed to post a 1-0 win.

It was Karns' first major league hit.

Maybe the most impressive thing about Nola's strong outing was the way he worked out of trouble.

It didn't take long for him to get a feel of big league pressure. The Rays' leadoff hitter stroked a double to start the game, but Nola calmly retired next two batters. He also worked out of trouble in the sixth as well.

There was another number that must be mentioned in connection with Nola's debut.

28,703.

That's how many people went through the gates at Citizens Bank Park last night. And that's several thousand more than have been routinely showing up this year.

Clearly, fans are looking for a silver lining, a reason for hope, in this for the most part hopeless mess of a season.

Last night Aaron Nola provided that, even if his teammates did not.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, July 21

The Daily Numbers: 25, age of woman police says was intoxicated when she was involved in a rear-end collision in the drive-thru window of a Dunkin Donuts in Collingdale.

2, age of the woman’s son who was in the car with her at the time.

100,000 cash bail for homeless man now facing arson charges in that huge blaze that damaged several businesses on 69th Street in Upper Darby.

175,000 tickets a day being sold by SEPTA for use on regional rails for the 2-day visit by Pope Francis in September. Computer glitches forced SEPTA to shut down the operation yesterday.

1,700 sales a minute, what SEPTA tested the system to handle.

900,000 visits swamped the system shortly after it went online at 9 a.m. Monday.

24 hours, how much notice SEPTA says they will give before they restart the sales.

3,000 porta-potties being planned for the Parkway for the massive Mass by the pope on September 27.

4 people sentenced in a brutal case of child abuse in Darby Borough.

3rd session on the Delco IU’s plans to expand its Aston campus held last night.

20 students from the Collingdale IU campus already located to Aston.

7 Pathmark stores and 3 Super Fresh that will be closed as their parent company, A&P files for bankruptcy.

2 Pathmarks in Ridley and Claymont; a Super Fresh in Kennett Square.

19 years in prison for former Philly Ironworkers union boss Joe Dougherty.

73, age of the longtime labor leader.

1 killed, 6 injured in crash on Pa. Turnpike,

4 straight wins for the Phils coming off the All-Star Break.

5-3 win over the Rays last night.

3 runs on 6 hits for Phils’ starter David Buchanan. He was sent back to the minors after the game.

2 hits for both Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco, who left the game with an injury.

15 day DL again for Chad Billingsley.

4 hole playoff won by Zach Johnson to capture his 2nd major and win British Open.

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

Just as things are looking up for the Phillies, Maikel Franco leaves last night’s game with an ailing elbow. It will be looked at by the team’s medical staff today. I Don’t Get It: Still can’t quite believe SEPTA was not prepared for the avalanche of people trying to buy regional rail tickets for the pope’s visit.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Aaron Nola. The young Phillies pitcher will take the hill tonight and provide some more excitement in a lost season.

Quote Box: “You think of the pope and you think of going to Rome to the Vatican and he’s coming here to us.”

- Tina Grandizio, on excitement about the visit by Pope Francis to Philadelphia.

The toughest job in Delco

David Byrne doesn't look like a tough guy.

Don't let the glasses, suit and tie fool you.

Byrne might have the toughest job in Delaware County.

What does he do?

Byrne is the warden of the George W. Hill Correctional Facility, Delaware County's Prison.

The prison has been in the headlines recently, due to two inmate suicides. Family members are seeking answers and threatening legal action.

Byrne works for Community Education Centers Inc., the private firm from New Jersey that runs the Delco prison on Concord. It is the only private prison in Pennsylvania, and with a capacity of 1,883 the largest facility operated by CEC.

CEC officials reached out to us for an opportunity to tell a little bit of their side of the story. Byrne was joined by Charles Seigel, CEC's manager of public affairs, and Debra Shannon, vice president and general counsel.

Obviously, they couldn't speak about the specifics of the most recent incidents, in that they could wind up in court.

But what they did manage to shed light on is the scope of what gets done every day at the county prison.

Byrne gave a fervent defense of the often-criticized facility, in particular defending the corrections officers who man the prison. He knows what he's talking about. Byrne started at the county prison as a CO 23 years ago. He rose through the ranks and now heads the facility for CEC.

He explained the process and evaluations that inmates go through when they arrive at the prison.

More importantly, he wanted to stress the scope of the task that falls in the prison's lap every month.

He gets on average of 20 to 25 new inmates every day. About 800 of the 1,880 inmates at the county prison are on psychotropic medications and being treated for mental conditions.

The bottom line is this. No one wants suicides, but they are a fact of prison life.

Byrne said his officers intervene and prevent suicides every day, and he explained how inmates are evaluated and the precautions that are put in place when an inmate is considered a suicide risk.

He defended one of the areas that draws the most criticisms about the prison, that being the services and mental health help offered to prisoners.

CEC has a medical unit staff of 41 people at the prison, including two psychiatrists, and two psychologists. Neither Byrne nor the other CEC official would comment on reports that a corrections officer was terminated after one of the recent suicides.

There have been six suicides at the Delco Prison under CEC's watch. They took over operations at GEO Inc., which originated as Wackenhut Corrections Corp., which ushered in the era of a private operator taking over daily operations at the prison back in 1995. My guess is none of this will silence the prison's many critics, who have been present since Delaware County Council made the decision to farm out prison services.

It's been a financial winner for the county, even with $136.3 million price tag for the most recent deal with CEC. The county has not yet provided the numbers for the current contract. It expires in the end of 2016, and CEC officials made it clear they are interested in continuing the relationship.

I do not envy the job facing David Byrne every day.

Running a prison is not exactly a happy business. You - and your staff - deal with what a lot of us don't want to think about every day.

Byrne understands all that. He just wants the public to know the size of the task facing his staff every day.

He did that loud and clear.

Huge demand derails sale of SEPTA's papal passes for regional rails

It was one of the first big events tied to the visit of Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families in September.

It did not go exactly as planned.

Everyone expected there would be a huge demand Monday when SEPTA put the special passes it plans to use for all travel on the regional rail lines for the two-day visit on Sept. 26-27.

You will not be able to use the regional rails without these special tickets.

That's why yesterday's sale was anticipated to spark a huge demand.

They weren't wrong.

But even SEPTA was taken aback at the online avalanche that struck shortly after the passes went on sale at 9 a.m.

SEPTA's computers could not handle the onslaught, and the transit agency was forced to suspend sales shortly after they were launched.

SEPTA says it will have an announcement today as to when the passes will be put back on sale, and vows that they will give at least 24-hour notice for those interested in buying the passes.

They plan to sell 175,000 of the special passes for each of the two days.

The good news? The majority of the passes have not yet been sold. SEPTA assures customers plenty are still available for purchase.

SEPTA explained that they tested the system and were set to handle a volume of 1,700 sales per second. But when sales went live on line at 9 a.m., the system was overwhelmed by a tidal wave of more than 900,000 visits.

They vow to get the system right before putting it back online again.

Probably not the start they wanted to one of the biggest events in the region's history.

Phils on a roll, but Franco health now a concern

Don't look now, but the Phillies are suddenly as hot as the weather.

Last night they got a decent outing from another young pitcher, David Buchanan, as they won their fourth straight game in the second half of the season, beating the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-3.

But most people are targeting tonight, when stud rookie pitcher Aaron Nola will take the hill for the Phillies. Nola, drafted in the first round by the Phils just 13 months ago, will be the starting pitcher at Citizens Bank Park tonight.

Of course, this is the Phillies, so even this sudden turnaround comes complete with a few clouds. For his effort, Buchanan earned a trip back up the Northeast Extension to Triple A Lehigh Valley. A couple of off days is juggling the Phillies' rotation, so Buchanan was sent down.

The other huge, young bright spot in the Phils' lineup, third baseman Maikel Franco, left the game last night with some tenderness in his elbow. Here are the details.

And the Phillies pitching staff continues to labor under the cloud of injury. Chadd Billingsley didn't last long on the healthy list. He's going back on the DL with continuing elbow pain.

Jack McCaffery has those details here.

In the meantime, all eyes will be on Nola tonight.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, July 20

The Daily Numbers: 83 degrees at 7:30 a.m. Going to steamy 96 today with excessive heat warning in place until 8 p.m.

99, record high set back in 1930.

86, normal high for the date.

54, age of homeless man now charged with setting that fire that damaged several businesses on 69th Street in Upper Darby.

10 bucks, what it will cost you to buy a special regional rail pass for the 2 days that Pope Francis will be in town in September for the World Meeting of Families.

9 a.m., when the passes go on sale online only.

180,000 tickets will be sold for each day.

3rd conditional use hearing for the Delco IU’s proposed plans for expansion of their Aston campus on tap tonight.

100 new surveillance cameras that are now being installed in Chester.

750,000 dollar grant from PennDOT, along with contributions from Widener and city of Chester being utilized under the program being overseen by the Riverfront Allicance of Delaware County.

2 and in ‘Mallrats 2,’ the sequel to the classic flick ‘Mallrats,’ which just might be filmed at the now-vacant Granite Run Mall.

70 mph speed limit being looked at for some sections of the Pa. Turnpike.

9 people shot over weekend in Philadelphia.

1 person killed.

3 game sweep for the Phillies as they kicked off the 2nd half of season by kicking around the hapless Marlins.

8-7 come-from behind win yesterday behind walk-off 2-run homer by Jeff Francoeur.

5 runs on 8 hits surrendered by Phils starter Cole Hamels yesterday.

3 innings, all Hamels lasted, probably not helping his trade value.

1 shot back for Jordan Spieth as he will look to capture 3 of the 4 titles in golf’s grand slam today in final round of British Open at St. Andrews.

21,739 attendance on a sweltering day in Citizens Bank Park.

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

3 straight wins! But of course when Cole Hamels gets run support, he comes up empty 2nd game in row.

I Don’t Get It: Donald Trump. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to possibility of one more act for Granite Run Mall, as possible spot for shooting sequel to Kevin Smith classic flick ‘Mallrats.’

Quote Box: “I think that for the future of the city and for everyone in it, the cameras will have an immense value.”

- Chester Nayor John Linder, on start of installation of as many as 100 new surveillance cameras in the city.

Papal Passes for regional rails will be red hot today

The only thing hotter than the weather today likely will be the SEPTA website.

That's because tickets go on sale today at 9 a.m. for the special regional rail passes you will need to get in and out of the city for the two days that that Pope Francis will be in town for the World Meeting of Families in late September.

You can get all the details here.

There are several things to keep in mind, both for getting today and for much of that week in late September.

First - and maybe foremost - be patient. This is going to be something of a slog. And it's likely going to start today when people deluge the SEPTA website trying to get tickets.

The tickets are only being sold online, you will not be able to buy them at any SEPTA stations or on board the rails during your normal commute.

Also, remember that your normal tickets and passes for the regional rail lines will not do you any good on those two key dates, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26 and 27, when the pontiff will visit the city, and take part in World Meeting of Families activitites, including a massive outdoor Mass set for Sunday afternoon on the Parkway.

You will have to buy one of the special passes to even consider getting on board.

SEPTA says it will sell 175,000 passes for each day. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for them to sell out today, and if SEPTA will possibly add additional sales.

Then, on those days, there will be additional limits on rail travel. There will be two main pushes to get people into the city in the morning. You will only be able to board the regional rail lines and specific stations. One of them happens to be right here in Primos.

I've joked we should sell some of the parking spaces both in front and in back of the building. At least I think I was joking.

SEPTA says they learning from their experience getting the throngs into the city for the Phillies World Series Parade back in 2008.

That's one of the reason they are staggering the times you can get into the city.

But what also interests me is what will happen when people head back to the trains at night after the festivities.

I give SEPTA credit. They are telling people now that there will long lines, and also reminding people that they will have to walk some distances once they're in the city.

We want to hear from people trying to get rail passes for the pope visit today. Email me at editor@delcotimes.com and we'll get back to you.

Dems the breaks for Sestak, Democrats

My gut tells me that Joe Sestak is going to be the Democratic nominee to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.

That does not mean there are not going to be plenty of twists and turns along the way.

For instance, there is Philly Democratic Party boss Bob Brady, who seems intent on "anybody but Sestak."

The bad blood between the two goes back a ways, to the time Sestak thumbed his nose at party leaders who wanted him to step aside to allow party-switching U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter take the party's nod. Instead Sestak dug in his heels, challenged Specter in the primary and beat him, only to lose a close race to Toomey back in 2010.

Now he wants a rematch.

But first he needs to capture the party nod. It's not going to be easy.

I talk about it in my Monday print column.

How hot was it? Saluting the sounds of summer

I had to smile when I opened the front door early this morning to start my daily commute.

There were several reasons for the smile.

One, I kind of knew what to expect as soon as I opened the door and was hit by that air that felt like a steamed, wet blanket. Here's some news for you. It's summer, mid-July in fact, and it's hot. Stop the presses.

That, of course, will not stop our friends in TV from hyperventilating about the weather. I know the drill, just take everything they do in the winter and reverse it.

Look, I don't blame them. I'm doing the same thing in this blog. People like to talk about - and ready about - the weather. There is an excessive heat warning (whatever that actually means) in effect until 8 p.m.

Yesterday was a sizzler. How hot was it? I actually retreated from the deck and took cover on the covered patio underneath yesterday morning as I made my way through the Sunday paper.

Yes, I still like to sit outside and read the paper. Yes, it was hot. Very hot. Bring it on. I love it.

That was, until the sweat started soaking through my shirt. That's when I thought better of it and took cover in the shade.

But I had no intention of retreating inside.

In fact, I spent most of the afternoon luxuriating in that steam bath, while listening to the Phillies game.

Of course it helped that the Phils have started the second half of the season by impersonating a real, live Major League baseball team.

After winning the first two games of their series vs. the Marlins, the Phils sent Cole Hamels to the mound in what might be the last game he ever starts in Citizens Bank Park for the Phillies. The trade deadline looms at the end of the month, and pretty much everyone expects Hamels to be sporting a different uniform.

Amazingly for a guy who seems to get next to no run support every time he takes the mound, the Phils actually spotted Hamels a nice lead. Of course, Hamels immediately went back out the next inning and gave it right back.

Still, it was nice to listen to the Phillies game when it was actually interesting.

Those who know me realize there is almost nothing I enjoy more than a scorching summer day, the Phillies on the radio, and a cold beverage in my hand.

Yesterday afternoon was no exception. The only thing better is doing so during a night game. Of course, I no longer have my screened-in porch for that summer delight, and usually get chased inside by the skeeters that delight in feasting on my every time I sit outside in the summer.

The neighborhood was eerily quiet yesterday afternoon, aside from the constant hum of air-conditioners.

That and the cicadas singing their song of summer were all I needed. Every once in awhile my wife would check on me to see if I was still conscious and had not succumbed to heat stroke.

This morning I am being bombarded with warnings to stay inside in the air-conditioning.

I'll grit my teeth and wait until I can get home tonight, strip off this suit and tie, don a T-shirt and shorts, and make a beeline for the deck, radio in one hand, iced tea in the other, and a stack of newspapers under my arm.

Bring it on, Scott Franzke and Larry Anderson. Welcome, Mr. Cicada.

They are the sounds of summer.

And I exult in them.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Friday, July 17

The Daily Numbers: 15, age of teen boy police say a 41-year-old Glenolden man believed he was setting up a tryst with online. He now faces sex charges.

2,000 videos and images of child porn police say they found on computer of 68-year-old Radnor businessman.

1 suspect on an armed holdup of a grocery store in Millbourne shot during a confrontation with police.

5 people busted on prostitution charges on Main Line.

2.5 acre parcel on Baltimore Pike in Springfield, currently site of the Rodeway Inn, which is being targeted for another super Wawa, as well as a bank

5,500 square foot convenience store, with 12 gas pumps, 47 parking spaces.

5 year deal being eyed between Upper Darby schools and assistant Superintendent Daniel McGarry.

41, age of man in Glenolden who entered guilty plea in connection with a home invasion in Folcroft.

19, age of Chester man convicted of 2nd degree murder in the shooting of a 49-year-old man.

27, age of recent Drexel grad found beaten and strangled to death in her West Philly apartment.

584 bags of heroin found inside home in Delaware during police raid.

80,000 residents who live in Philadelphia Housing Authority units. None of them will be allowed to smoke in their homes, starting on Aug. 5.

10 new defendants, including members of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club, in new indictment against Philly doc charged with selling Oxycodone.

75,000 insider trading gain allegedly made by Philly lawyer in connection with purchase of stock in Harleysville Insurance the day before it merged with Nationwide.

4 Marines killed in 2 separate attacks on military facilities by a single gunman in Chattanooga, Tenn.

12 counts of 1st-degree murder on which Colorado movie gunman James Holmes was convicted yesterday.

11 weeks, length of his trial.

12 hours, how long it took jury to convict him.

24 Emmy nominations for ‘Game of Thrones.’

2 year deal for Flyers defenseman Michael Del Zotto.

7.75 million for the Flyers blueliner.

34 wins, what the Phillies need in 2nd half to avoid a 100-loss season.

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

The Phillies get back in action tonight. Yeah, I know, hold the applause. The Phils are sitting at 29-62, with 71 games left. They need togo 34-37 in the second half to avoid losing 100 games. They’re actually on track to lose 110.

I Don’t Get It: Don’t think we have a problem with guns? Just take a glance at today’s headlines.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to police in Millbourne, who reacted quickly to take down an armed gunman who held up a borough grocery store last night.

Quote Box: “We are looking at every possible avenue, whether it was terrorism, whether it’s domestic, international. or whether it was a simple criminal act.”

- FBI agent Ed Reinhold, investigating shooting that left 4 Marines dead in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Kevin Smith pays a visit to Granite Run Mall

The Granite Run Mall may be only a memory, the doors locked and all the stores with the exception of Sears and Boscov's closed, but it continues to make headlines.

The old shopping hulk is something of a social media phenomenon. Every time we post something about the mall on our social media accounts, those items explode.

It's clear Granite Run holds a very special place in the hearts of many Delco residents.

It apparently holds a special place in Kevin Smith's heart as well.

You might remember a few months ago we ran an item indicating Smith, the movie director responsible for the teen classics "Mallrats" and "Clerks," was looking at the Middletown site as a possible location for shooting a sequel, "Mallrats 2."

This week Smith was here in Delco to check out the vast space empty space inside the mall for himself. He posted a photo of himself with his daughter Harley outside one of the entrances to the mall.

He'll need to act fast. As we have reported, the plan is to knock down most of the existing mall - again with the exception of the two anchor stores Sears and Bosvov's, which have their own exterior entrances - this fall and replace it with a town center style development, complete with retail sites, restaurants and two high-rise apartment buildings.

We'll keep tabs on any developments and keep our fingers crossed that "Mallrats 2" might just be the final chapter of the Granite Run Mall.

A common theme in the headlines

The following things all took place yesterday:

- A man went on a shooting spree at two different military sites in Chattanooga, Tenn. By the time he was gunned down in a confrontation with police, four Marines were dead.

- The suspect in the killing of nine black members of the historic Emanuel AME Church was in court in Charleston, S.C.

- A jury convicted James Holmes, who strolled into a packed movie theater in Denver, Colo., and opened fire, killing 12 and wounding dozens.

- A man with a gun suspected in the armed robbery of a supermarket was shot during a confrontation with police in Millbourne. What do all of these stories have in common?

Look, I don't pretend to know what the answer is on guns.

But I think I know this. There are too many of them out on our streets, in the hands of people who have no business with them. I think that much we can agree on. Now the answer is what to do about it.

Because if we don't do something, we're going to continue reading stories like these every morning.

I'm getting tired of just shaking my head.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, July 16

The Daily Numbers: 2 percent raise for many county workers under a new 4-year deal.

140 members getting boost in pay retroactive to Jan. 1.

3,000 dollars fleeced from a 75-year-old woman in Upper Darby by scammers using what is called the ‘pigeon-drop’ ruse.

2 other similar scams believed to be the work of the same crew.

300,000 movies, TV shows and albums now available online through the Delaware County Library System.

4-2 vote in Radnor to approve new dorms and other improvements for Villanova University.

6 new dorms will house 135 students.

2 separate fires that damaged a home in Darby Township yesterday.

161 units planned for new high-rise apartment building in Media called West End Flats.

18 dollar a month credit on the 4 Philly-New Jersey bridges - including the Commodore Barry - for those who use EZPass.

6.4 million dollars a year, what the discounts likely will cost the agency that runs the bridges.

9 percent hike for fares on buses and rails used by N.J. Transit.

40 years later, a Maryland sex offender has been charged in the murder of 2 missing sisters.

2 straight golf Major titles captured by Jordan Spieth. He’s on the course at St. Andrews looking to make it 3 in a row at the British Open.

2 games, as in a rare Palestra hoops double-header, on tap on Jan. 20. Just like the old days.

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

Anyone else wonder how long it’s been since the Phillies played a meaningful game? Not going to happen anytime soon. They don’t play at all until Friday night. Anyone miss them?

I Don’t Get It: There’s never a shortage of people looking to get over on others, and that’s especially true when it comes to the elderly. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Haverford K-9 Jager, who is retiring due to an injury. Lots of heroes come with four legs.

Quote Box: “We’re really passionate about keeping libraries relevant.”

- Jeff Jankowski, founder of hoopla digital, which is making a cache of movies, music and books available to users of Delco library system.

Delco is back in the spotlight again

I realize that 'Delco Proper,' the new pilot that was streamed online this week by Comedy Central, is not going to be well-received by everyone in Delaware County. It's what you would call 'edgy.' The language is coarse and yes, there are a few F-bombs. But in general it once again puts life here in Delaware County in the spotlight. And that's a good thing. I explain why on our editorial page today.

The case against air-conditioning

What a difference 24 hours makes.

If you have not been outside yet, and I am assuming most of you are a bit more sane than me and in fact are still hugging the covers, it feels more like late September out there than mid-July.

And even more so after the last couple of soupy days.

Of course, I again have to admit that I actually LIKE that kind of weather.

In fact, I HATE to come inside, because I hate air-conditioning. It's the bane of my existence. I wait faithfully all winter and spring through all the cold and shivering, only to be greeted by the whirr of those air-conditioners as soon as there is a hint of warm temperatures.

In the office, I often find myself checking to see if I can catch my breath. That's how cold it is. My hands often feel like popsicles. I find myself going outside to warm up.

It's the same at home, although the house doesn't get nearly as cold.

I still would rather lie in bed with just a sheet - maybe nothing - covering me with the windows open, than be huddling under the covers in air-conditioned "comfort."

In the car, I am routinely the only person riding home at night with his window open. Everyone else is tightly ensconced inside their frosty vehicles.

Granted, this is not a widely-held opinion. My co-workers always blame me when a heat wave hits, they know I exult in heat and humidity.

At home, my family presses their faces up against the sliding glass doors to check on my as I sit out on the deck, drenched in my own sweat, alone with my thoughts - and the cicadas. Every once in awhile they crack open the door to see if I am still breathing.

So I want to know, am I the only one that feels this way.

Let's see a show of hands.

I hate air-conditioning. Who's with me?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, July 15

The Daily Numbers: 2 suicides at Delaware County Prison that are under investigation.

6 suicides at the county jail since Community Education Centers took over operations there in 2008.

136.3 million dollars, how much Delaware County paid CEC to operate the prison from 2012 to 2014.

1,883 beds at the county prison.

383 security staffers, 24 administrators and 82 treatment staffers at the prison.

1 privately run correctional facility in Pa. That is the one right here in Delco.

50, age of Richard Plotts, the gunman who killed 1 staffer and wounded another in a shooting at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby last year. He entered a plea of guilty but mentally ill yesterday.

24, age of man held for trial for shooting at Chester police during investigation of series of suspicious fires in the city.

250 students who will be residing in the 1st ever residence hall planned for the Middletown campus of Penn State Brandywine.

53, age of Drexel Hill man who fell off a ladder while working to remove a tree limb in his front yard. He died of his injuries.

28 years, how long Stephen Reed served as mayor of Harrisburg. He now faces hundreds of counts of corruption.

4 stolen paintings by Chadds Ford native N.C. Wyeth, which a Massachusetts man pleaded guilty to transporting from Maine to California.

4 times the number of people imprisoned in the U.S., according to President Obama. He addressed the NAACP in Philly and urged changes in the system.

46 drug offenders whose terms me commuted on Tuesday.

3 billion miles, the distance to Pluto, which NASA reached with a craft that sent back pictures yesterday.

2 straight All-Star Game MVPs for Millville, N.J., native Mike Trout.

4-1 win for British premiere team Bournemouth in friendly over the Union in Chester.

5-2 win for Marple in District 19 Little League game.

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

Thankfully, Jonathan Papelbon did not get into last night’s All-Star game. Good.

I Don’t Get It: Video captured two bicycle riders - riding blue Indego bike-sharing bikes - rolling down the Schuylkill Expressway.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Sen. Dominic Pileggi, who got legislation that beefs up the state’s DNA law to track criminal offenders, passed.

Quote Box: “It’s a concern to County Council. Anytime these types of incidents happen, we have to be concerned about it.”

- County Councilman Mario Civera, on investigation into two suicides at county prison.

Driving through the storm

I've always said one of my favorite things is the sense of security that envelops me as I lie in bed in the dark during a spectacular summer thunderstorm.

Driving through it is another matter.

That's what I just did. It was an adventure.

I usually restrict my driving adventures to the winter snow storms, as well as my daily game of dodge ball with the deer who accompany my early-morning commute.

This morning I had another companion.

Mother Nature.

She was in a bad mood.

I probably should have waited it out at home, since the initial rumblings hit just as I was getting up. My hope - as the lightning flashes - lit up the darkened house, was that I could get the coffee made before the power went out.

The power stayed on. And the rain soon arrived. Basically it was teeming.

My sense of timing would get better, however. The downpour eased just enough for me to make a dash to the car, over the protests of my wife, who urged me to wait it out. Of course, she had other things on her mind. Like Mr. Scruffy. That's my name for my son's dog, a mutt he picked up from the pound out in West Virginia. We're dogsitting this week while my son is on vacation. He named the scruffy black mix Kansas, after Toto in 'The Wizard of Oz.' I took one look at him and deemed him 'Mr. Scruffy.'

Well, Mr. Scruffy apparently is not a big fan of thunderstorms. We discovered that this morning after he relieved himself in our bedroom.

Cleaning that up was fairly easy.

Driving to work was a bit more of an adventure.

I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've actually considered pulling off the road and stopping in a storm. This morning was one of them. At some points it was hard to see anything, not a good thing when standing water seems to be everywhere on the roads.

The rain seemed to be hovering over my car, following me east as I snaked along the drenched roads, down West Chester Pike, along Route 352 and onto the Route 1 Bypass. The lights at Routes 352 and 452 were out. That should make for an adventurous rush hour if they can't get them back on.

There were several spectacular lightning strikes that flashed directly in front of my car. It was wild - scary and yet at the same time oddly appealing.

I guess it's the desire for something different than the drive that I can basically do in my sleep.

A severe thunderstorm warning and flash flood watch remains in effect for much of the region until 8:30 this morning.

I'll still take rain over snow any day.

It's been a summer of storms. And Mother Nature put another exclamation point on it this morning.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Comedy Central gives Delco its 'Proper' due

Well, did you watch it?

Delco is making headlines again in the entertainment world. This time we're the focus of a new Comedy Central pilot that delves into the life here in Delaware County.

It's certainly not the first time Delco has been put on a national stage. There was Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence sitting in the Llanerch Diner. And Sylvester Stallone used some gritty gym scenes in Chester as the backdrop for the upcoming 'Creed.'

We're no strangers to the small screen either.

Hell, Tina Fey has practically put Upper Darby on the map. The Internet exploded last year when late night host Jimmy Fallon decided to surprise the home girl with her favorite pizza from Pica's, a Drexel Hill institution.

But this was different.

'Delco Proper' is not exactly family fare.

It's irreverent. At some points it's downright vulgar. Yes, as if it should be different than any other conversation held these days, there is more than a few distinctive F-bombs dropped into the dialog.

How irreverent is it? Well, the pilot details three Delco friends and their antics as they prepare to attend the funeral for a friend. The funeral scenes were shot at O'Leary's Funeral Home, right up on Springfield Road across from Holy Cross Church. You can't get much more Delco than that.

Yes, I can admit I laughed out loud a couple of times.

But I wonder how - especially with some of the language involved - this will play in Delco. Very simply put, we couldn't use a lot of the language used in the show in the newspaper.

That doesn't mean we can't link to it.

Or embed the video as I will do here.

Here is our story on the initial episode.

So go ahead and watch it. And yes, at some points you might want to cover your ears.

Tell us what you think.

We Were the World

Every once in awhile I have to stop and think about how long I have been doing this gig.

Then again, every once in awhile it just kind of rears up and smacks me in the face.

Someone please tell me it was not exactly 30 years ago yesterday that we were all enthralled with the music of Live Aid.

Of course, here in Philly, we had a front-row seat to music history, with some of the biggest performers in the music world gathering at JFK Stadium for the U.S. half of the charity fundraiser. Wembley Stadium in London hosted the other part. And yes, Phil Collins made history by performing at Wembley, then climbing aboard a Concorde, jetting across the pond, and performing in Philly later that night.

What I remember about it was that it was a very long day. It was a Saturday, and we have extensive coverage planned for the Sunday paper.

I remember it for a couple of other reasons as well.

The guy who handled the bulk of our coverage that day was a great young journalist named Len LaBarth. Len served as our Business editor, but one of his real passions was music. In fact, for years he penned our weekly pop music column.

I dispatched Len to South Philly, along with photographer Paula Doyle, and they spent the day covering history.

Thinking about that day yesterday made me think about this business and how we do it these days.

For one, there was not a single Tweet from Live Aid. One of the biggest music events in history wasn't "trending." No one was posting about it on Facebook. There were no "selfies" from JFK to mark the occasion. The Internet was still a figment of Al Gore's imagination. All of our coverage was tailored to print at that point.

I distinctly remember the front page I created for the Sunday paper. It featured an overhead shot of the crowd in JFK and the hedline, 'We Are The World'

Something else dawned on me as I showed a couple of my contemporaries that old front page yesterday. Several of our staffers who sit at those same desks today were not born when Live Aid was held in 1985.

Aside from the Daily Times masthead and a couple of teaser boxes, the page was black and white.

Yes, for that day, we certainly were the world.

But - especially for this business - it was a different world.

Papelbon puts the 'I' in team

The Phillies only representative at the Major League All-Star Game is making it clear he would rather be wearing someone else's uniform.

I think most fans probably feel the same way.

Jonathan Papelbon, the talented closer who has cashed nearly $48 million in checks from the Phillies, spoke about his plight in Cincinnati yesterday.

You've heard it all before.

This - meaning a team-record 62 losses in the first half - is not what he signed up for. He wants to be traded to a contender, and made it clear he won't be especially happy if the trade deadline comes and goes at the end of the month and he is still wearing Phillies' pinstripes.

A part of me kind of likes Papelbon and the fact that he wants to win.

But another part of me wishes he would just shut up and play. And, of course, keep cashing those checks along the way.

That's not what players do these days.

It is all about them.

There is no team in this closer. There is only him. It's all about him. He's not happy and he wants out.

"It's time to you know what or get off the pot," an impatient Papelbon declared, speaking of the decision facing the Phillies.

One thing struck me about Papelbon's conversation with the media.

Anyone else notice how many times he used the word I?

So much for the idea of there being no 'I' in team.

We all know what team Papelbon plays for.

His team.