Monday, August 31, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Aug. 31

The Daily Numbers: 2 gunshots that struck Ridley Park Officer Marc Hanly during an incident in Norwood early Sunday.

13-year veteran of the Ridley Park Police force.

2 loaded .45 caliber handguns found in the apartment of the suspect.

1:30 a.m. Sunday, time of the shooting.

500,000 dollars cash bail for 36-year-old man charged in the shooting incident.

19 year veteran of the Philadelphia police department killed off-duty in a motorcycle accident.

42, age of Officer Lamar Poole.

58, age of driver suspected of being under the influence in the crash.

27, age of man suspected of being responsible for string of home burglaries in Upper Darby area.

53,000 people who packed Lincoln Financial Field Sunday for a show by comedian and Philly home boy Kevin Hart.

2 people hit by gunfire in 2 separate incidents in Philly.

2 slain TV reporters in Roanoke, Va., remembered at memorial service.

76, age of Wes Craven, director of several classic horror movies. He died Sunday.

10 for 10 with 3 TD tosses for Sam Bradford vs. Packers Saturday night.

12 players cut by Eagles yesterday to get roster down to 78. Backup QB G.J. Kinne was let go.

75, number they must hit by Tuesday.

9-4 loss for Phils to Padres.

4 runs on 8 hits surrendered by Phils’ starter Alec Asher, acquired in trade for Cole Hamels.

27 pitches, how many Asher needed to get out of 1st inning

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

Sam Bradford. He was 10-for-10 with 3 TD passes in 1 quarter of action vs. the Packers Saturday night. Any more questions?

I Don’t Get It: Another person with a gun, and a Delaware County officer wounded. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Ridley Park Officer Marc Hanly, who is recovering after being struck twice, once in chest and once in the leg. He was likely saved by his bullet-proof vest.

Quote Box: “The officers was saved by his bulletproof vest.”

- Norwood Police Chief Mark DelVecchio.

A reason for thanks: Officer Hanly is OK

First and foremost this morning, there is this:

Ridley Park Police Officer Marc Hanly is going to be just fine.

For that he can thank the bullet-proof vest he was wearing when he responded to a call of a suicidal man at an apartment complex in Norwood.

Hanly was at he door with officers from several departments when the man opened fire.

Hanly was hit twice, once in the chest and once in the leg. His vest stopped what could have been a tragic ending to this already troubling story.

His was rushed to Crozer-Chester Medical Center, and was later released. He is expected to make a full recovery.

For that I think everyone can be grateful

Where do you take a newspaper editor for his 60th birthday?

I think my family knows me too well.

To help me celebrate my 60th birthday, we visited my daughter in Washington, D.C. We were joined by our son.

So where do you take a newspaper editor for his 60th birthday? The Newseum, of course.

I picked up a souvenir with this T-shirt, which probably best represents my life for more than three decades.

In this week's print column, I talk a little about the notion of being 60.

And this overriding thought: Why does 60 sound so much older than 59?

I should do something special today for my last day as a 50-something.

Yeah, I'll probably read three of four newspapers.

Once a newsman, always a newsman.

Blog? Sure, I blog. But nothing will ever substitute for the tactile feel - and smell - of holding a newspaper in my hands.

A revelation from Sam Bradord

It's easy to forget that Sam Bradford just a few years ago was the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft.

Not just the No. 1 of the Los Angeles Rams. The No. 1 pick in the entire draft. Great things were expected from this pure talent out of Oklahoma.

Then his left knee blew up. Bradford played only 7 games in the 2013 season, one of those being a season-opening loss to the Eagles in Chip Kelly's first game as head coach. Bradford suffered that bane of every NFL players, a ruptured ACL in his left knee.

The next season, he did not even make it to the regular season. Bradford injured the same ACL in a preseason game and it cost him the entire season.

The Rams loved his skill set and the way he played the game. They were less enamored of his ability to stay on the field. They opted to go in a different direction, sending Bradford and his twice-surgically repaired left knee to the Eagles in exchange for Nick Foles and a second round draft pick.

Eagles faithful were apoplectic, wondering what Kelly was up to, and why he would swap a guy who was 14-4 as a starter under Kelly's tutelage for a guy whose knees had betrayed him two straight seasons.

Saturday night we found out why.

I am on the record as saying that if - and granted it's a very big if - Bradford can stay healthy, he is going to be the MVP of the NFL this season.

He didn't do anything Saturday night vs. the Packers to make me change my mind.

All Bradford did in his quarter of work was go a scintillating 10-for-10 with three TD passes.

Bradford has the best arm this town has seen in a long time. Couple that with his uncanny accuracy, hitting receivers in stride, and you start to see why Kelly was not joking when he said the team went after Bradford for a reason, and that all the hype surrounding Oregon QB Marcus Mariota was really just that. The Birds never really had a shot at Mariota.

Yes, we will likely hold our breath every time Bradford drops back, and every time he takes a hit.

But what we saw Saturday night is the quarterback position the way Kelly, and his manic, up-tempo offense, was meant to be run.

Any questions?

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Aug. 28

The Daily Numbers: 50,000 tickets for the regional rails for Saturday, Sept. 26 for pope visit.

60,000 tickets sold for Sunday.

175,000 tickets SEPTA had planned to sell for both days.

200,000 tickets still available.

600 Pa. National Guard troops being sought by Montgomery County for help with traffic and security for the pope weekend.

0, how much teachers and staff will be getting paid in Chester Upland School District. The ailing district says it does not have the money to make its payroll.

300 teachers and staff who say they will be on the job to open the schools anyhow.

2.8 million dollars awarded in a malpractice case against Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

2, as in Sunoco Logistics’ Mariner East 2 pipeline, which has now drawn fire in the form of a civil action by the Clean Air Council.

14 incidents of thefts from cars being reported in Nether Providence. Police are urging residents to lock their cars.

30 million dollars in grants, loans incorrectly handled by Cheyney University, according to state audit.

111 times that a New Jersey teacher was late for work. He’ll still get to keep his job.

58, age of former Sixer Darryl Dawkins, better known as ‘Chocolate Thunder.’ He died yesterday of heart failure.

14 seasons Dawkins spent in the NBA.

12 points, 6.1 rebounds in 726 NBA games in Dawkins’ career.

2 backboards that exploded under the fury of his slam dunks.

5-0 lead for the Phillies that disappeared in a 9-5 loss to the Mets.

4-game sweep for the Metropolitans.

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

RIP, Darryl Dawkins. The original rim rattler.

I Don’t Get It: What happened to all those people mobbing the regional rails for the visit by Pope Francis. SEPTA yesterday said they still had 200,000 tickets available.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to teachers and staff in Chester Upland, who yesterday indicated they would still report and open the schools, even though the district doesn’t hae the money to pay them.

Quote Box: “This kind of commitment goes beyond what we ever want to ask of our staff, but as we continue to explore every possible legislative, fiscal and legal avenue to secure funds, their sacrifice is much appreciated.”

- Chester Upland Receiver Francis Barnes, on word that teachers would report to work without pay.

Sales of papal regional rail passes not exactly heavenly

What if they gave a papal Mass and nobody came?

Well, I don't think that's going to happen. Still, I have to admit I was startled at yesterday's update from SEPTA, in particular the numbers when it comes to sales of those special regional rail passes for the weekend of the visit by Pope Francis in late September. Remember, you can't use the system without one of the special passes, and only certain stations will be operating on the routes, which will funnel folks from the suburbs downtown.

For months the drumbeat was of massive throngs descending on those 18 stations, including Primos Station which is basically in our backyard here at the Daily Times.

Now, I'm not so sure.

SEPTA yesterday said they had sold only about 50,000 passes for Saturday, and maybe 60,000 for Sunday. Yes, those are double and triple the usual weekend regional rail ridership. But it's nowhere near what SEPTA expected. The transit agency put 175,000 passes on sale for each day.

Officials indicated as many as 10,000 people could descend on beautiful downtown Primos to get on those early-morning trains on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26 and 27.

But SEPTA now has more than 200,000 passes on their hands, and they're hoping sales pick up.

That's probably why this week the tone of the officials in the city and the World Meeting of Families has changed. There is less talk of commuting snags, a traffic box, logistics and long walks to venues. In its place there is the 'Francis Festival Grounds.' And a huge push to get people excited about the papal visit.

It was expected that 1.5 million people or more would descend on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Sunday for Pope Francis' outdoor Mass.

So I ask you, are you taking the 'over' or 'under' on that number.

Based on sales of those regional rail passes, I'm leaning toward the under.

Some thoughts on the graphic world we live in

I used our editorial page today to talk about the insidious nature of what happened when a madman decided to execute a television reporter and her cameraman on live TV.

And also what he did after this despicable act.

It has serious ramifications for those of us who toil in this business.

Those are the kinds of decision I make every day.

I'd be interested if you agree.

It's on our editorial page.

The coolest nickname in sports: RIP, 'Chocolate Thunder'

There have been lots of cool nicknames in sports.

But there was only one "Chocolate Thunder."

It's still hard to believe that the man-child, Darryl Dawkins, is gone.

The Sixers' great died Thursday at the age of 58.

Yes, Darryl Dawkins was 58.

I know, it's hard to believe.

That's because this ever-smiling giant of a man always carried with him a child's smile.

Dawkins entered the game literally as a child, the first player in NBA history to go from high school to the pros.

Dawkins will forever be known for his ferocious dunks, which earned him that all-time moniker, "Chocolate Thunder." I can still remember watching the first time one of those fiberglass backboards shattered under the fury of a Dawkins' dunk.

Dawkins spent 14 seasons in the NBA, the bulk of them with the Sixers, along with stops in New Jersey, Utah and Detroit. He averaged 12 points and 6.1 rebounds in 726 games.

But those numbers aren't what he will be remembered for, not that they're not respectable numbers.

Actually, in recent years, through his work with the Sixers, Dawkins became that most unlikely of sports characters, a truly decent and likeable guy.

As I approach 60, it's hard for me to fathom that "Chocolate Thunder" is gone at 58.

Columnist Jack McCaffery offers an appreciation of a most special Philadelphia athlete.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Aug. 27

The Daily Numbers: 24 million dollars, what Michael Markman and his firm BET Investments, paid for the Granite Run Mall.

2 stores that remain open at the site, Sears and Boscov’s.

15 of November to 15 of December, when demolition of the rest of the mall is likely to occur. It will be replaced by a town center style development mixing residential and retail.

1 person struck and killed by an Amtrak train in Norwood last night.

8.7 million dollars the Chester Upland School District already owes charter schools. That’s part of the reason a Delco judge nixed a new financial recovery plan, because it did not address this debt.

23 million dollar deficit for the troubled school district. That is expected to grow to $40 million by the end of the school year.

2 million dollars in state aid available to Delco municipalities affected by June’s severe summer thunderstorm that rocked the region.

10 minute storm with winds of 70 mph that wreaked havoc, especially in western Delco.

1,000 pages of documents in the Kathleen Kane probe released yesterday by the courts. They contain hundreds of porn emails that Kane alleges were routinely swapped by office members under her predecessor.

46 percent of registered voters in Pa. who believe Attorney General Kathleen Kane should resign, according to new Frannklin & Marshall poll.

54 percent of of Republicans want her to go; just 47 percent of Independents; and 40 percent of Democrats.

2 in 5 - 39 percent - in Pa. believe Gov. Tom Wolf is doing excellent or good job.

54 percent believe the Legislature is more at fault for the state budget standoff; 29 percent point finger at Wolf 66 percent believe state lawmakers should not be paid during the standoff.

2 TV station employees killed during live report yesterday morning in Virginia.

12 consecutive life terms without parole for Colorado movie theater rampge gunman James Holmes.

2 U.S. soldiers killed by an Afghan solider at a military base in western Afghanistan.

3 runs surrendered by Phils’s starter Jerad Eickhoff in 1st inning vs. Mets last night.

1 error on fly ball that proved costly in that inning.

16 straight retired by Eickhoff at one point after the 1st inning.

6 innings pitched by Eickhoff, 4 runs and 6 strikeouts in his 2nd start for Phils.

42, age of Bartolo Colon, who got the win for the Mets.

8 straight wins for Mets over Phils.

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

The only thing worse than a losing streak is losing to the Mets.

I Don’t Get It: No, we don’t have issues in this country with gun violence and mental health. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the staff at WDBJ in Virginia, who were tasked with working under the worst imaginable conditions yesterday after two of their co-workers were gunned down during a live report.

Quote Box: “The ruling ensures that Chester’s children will be able to return to their classrooms, next month, at the same time that the rest of the students across the Comonwealth will.”

- Vahan Gureghian, head of Chester Community Charter School, after judge’s ruling rejecting state plan to cut reimbursements to charter schools.

Welcome to my world

This one is personal.

We run a lot of stories every day in print and online.

A lot of those stories deal with very sad, tragic incidents.

And the bottom line is that a lot of those stories also make some people very angry.

They are upset about what we reported, sometimes they way we reported it, or simply are looking to vent at someone at the newspaper. That usually brings them to me.

Every day I field phone calls from readers who are irate with something we've reported.

Sometimes they even come into the office.

It's not exactly a part of the job that I relish. But it's also one of the most important things I do here every day. I always listen carefully to what the people have to say, and offer an explanation as to why we did what we did.

I also almost always someone who is unhappy with our coverage the opportunity to write a letter or a piece for our op-ed pages offering their version of events or why they think we got it wrong.

I'll be honest. Sometimes we just flat got something wrong. When that happens, we correct that information.

But most of the time, I'm in a situation where I know I am not going to assuage this person's visceral feelings for me - or the newspaper. I understand why that is. Many times these people are grieving and simply want to vent. If they want to yell at someone for awhile, I allow them to do that.

Sometimes people who are upset with the newspaper are not satisfied with a phone call. Sometimes they want to tell me what they think face to face.

When that happens, I bring them into my office and again listen intently to what they have to say. I offer my version, and again usually they just want to tell me what they think. I give them that opportunity.

I was thinking about that yesterday as I followed the details of the horrific incident in Virginia where a television reporter and her cameraman were gunned down while they were doing a live report. Both died. The woman they were interviewing was wounded but is expected to recover.

In this case, it turned out the suspect, who later took his own life, was a disgruntled employee.

Two things went through my mind as I followed the story.

One, I wonder just what it is that could push a person to that edge, and the many times I've dealt with people who felt aggrieved at something the newspaper did. It's not an especially comforting feeling.

But in the ensuing unsettling minutes and hours, I again confronted something about what I do for a living that was less than reassuring.

The way we deliver information to readers has fundamentally changed. When an incident such as yesterday's tragedy occurs, the early-morning timing of the event makes print seem like eons away. We won't print again until the next morning. It becomes an online story. And that is part of the problem.

We are not alone online.

The gunman in this case (I don't feel the need to use his name and give him a morsel of what he wanted) captured the entire incident on video and posted it online.

It's a lit

tle bit like knocking over that first domino in one of those intricate displays. You sit back and watch it cascade from there. The video exploded on social media. It was all over Twitter and Facebook, as was the live video from the TV station. The shooter's Facebook post containing the video he shot quickly "went viral," which is the new buzzword of our lives. At least at first.

The auto-play feature on many Twitter and Facebook accounts meant the video played even before some people realized what it was.

Fairly quickly the online world was abuzz with something else, pleas not to view or share the shocking video.

That's called editing. That's the kind of decision I make every day.

We did not use or post the video. We also did not use any of the stills taken from the video that wire services moved yesterday that clearly show the suspect pointing a gun at his victim.

Today we mourn reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, killed while doing their jobs, something we do every day.

And we wonder about the world we live in, our role in it, and the job we do every day.

Yesterday, I had a fundamental decision to make as the editor of the Daily Times and DelcoTimes.com. But every user of social media and consumer of online information got to make a similar decision.

Welcome to my world.

2 big questions loom for Chester Upland

There are two big questions looming over the Chester Upland School District this morning.

Parents and children have to still be wondering what will happen when - or maybe the correct word is 'if' - schools open next week.

The other is something the district has been dealing with for decades. What is the answer to the district's fiscal woes.

All of this is part of the fallout from this week's court ruling that saw a Delco judge reject the state's attempt to radically reduce charter school reimbursements.

State officials, including Gov. Tom Wolf and Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, had made it clear they were not sure if Chester Upland would be able to open without the changes they sought. And even if they did, they warned it was entirely possible the red ink the district is awash in would force them to close the doors before the end of the school year.

The district is looking at a $23 million deficit, one that state officials believe could balloon to $40 million by the end of the school year.

Wolf said he was disappointed in the ruling and is mulling his options at this point in terms of an appeal.

Here is today's update with reaction to the court ruling.

And here is our editorial. The answer to Chester Upland's woes likely lies in the Legislature, and changing the formula used to reimburse charter schools that was part of the original law that created charter schools.

Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen anytime soon. How are those budget talks going?

In the meantime, the children and families of Chester Upland continue to suffer.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday Aug. 26

The Daily Numbers: 40,000 dollars, what Chester Upland pays for every special education student enrolled in charter schools.

16,000 what state officials wanted to reduce that number to. The plan was rejected by a Delco judge Tuesday night.

23 million dollar deficit in Chester Upland right now.

20 million dollar deficit by the end of the school year even if the plan had been approved, according to 1 financial expert who testified in front of Kenney.

2 men shot yesterday after a “transaction” went bad in Glenolden.

3 suspects being sought in the incident.

1 suspect dead and 1 sheriff’s deputy wounded during an attack at the Chester County Justice Center in West Chester yesterday.

Turns out the man killed was the same man arrested for trying to scale the White House fence in February.

34, age of Curtis Smith, the suspect in the West Chester attack.

2 new state reps for Delco as Leanne Krueger-Braneky and Joanna McClinton took their oaths yesterday in Harrisburg, repping the 161st and 191st districts respectively.

14 votes by the Pa. House that failed to override Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget vetoes on a line-item basis.

30 people forced from their apartment after a ruptured gas line sparked a fire in King of Prussia.

16 units in the building damaged.

23 employees laid off by La Salle University in a budget crunch.

12 million dollar deficit facing the school.

725 students entering the Catholic college this fall, below their target.

860 students in the freshman class last year.

33,164 total enrollment at the school.

49 percent of people in poll who believe Attorney General Kathleen Kane should step down.

54 percent disapprove of the way she’s doing the job.

39 percent of Democrats who believe she should go, with 37 percent saying she should stay on job

16 years, how long it has been since Pa. hiked the cost of a hunting license. They’re going up.

20 dollar increase over 5 years.

19 dollar license now will eventually cost $39 in year five.

204 point loss for the stock market yesterday, after a big early rally fizzled.

6-5 loss for the Phillies to the Mets yesterday.

17 wins in their last 23 games for the Mets.

7 straight losses by the Phils to the New Yorkers.

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

You have to love Larry Bowa. The Phils’ bench coach went ballistic last night when he thought the Mets were again quick-pitching Phillies hitters. Earned him an ejection. And still more love from the Philly Phaithful.

I Don’t Get It: Does anyone have an answer to financial morass that is the Chester Upland School District. Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan just got shot down.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to sheriff’s department employees in Chester County, who offered a textbook reaction yesterday to an incident in which an intruder with a knife attacked a deputy.

Quote Box: “Judge Kenney’s decision to reject necessary reforms to the special education rates paid by the school district to its charter schools will unfortunately allow a decades-old problem to persist, and the district’s massive budget deficit will only worsen.”

- Gov. Tom Wolf, after Delco Judge Chad Kenney rejected key part of Chester Upland financial recovery plan.

What's next for Chester Upland?

Now what?

Is there a Plan B for the Chester Upland School District?

There had better be.

That's my thought after Delaware County Judge Chad Kenney late last night rejected the key cog in Gov. Tom Wolf's financial recovery plan for the Chester Upland School District.

While Kenney gave the green light to a forensic audit of the district's books and appointment of a financial recovery officer, those were merely window dressing.

The guts of the plan - as you might expect - was money. In particular how much money the district reimburses local charter schools for special education students.

Chester Upland pays an outrageous $40,000-plus for every special education student who attends a charter school. The Wolf plan would have reduced that to a little more than $16,000 per student. Coupled with some tweaks in regulations concerning cyberschools, Wolf, Chester Upland Receiver Francis Barnes and Education Secretary Pedro Rivera said they would be able to wipe out the district's yawning $23 million deficit and put the district on sound financial footing for the first time in decades.

That's not going to happen. At least not now. Kenney rejected the state plan, calling it "wholly inadequate" in terms of repairing the district's shaky fiscal condition. He also chided the state for failing to provide enough details in terms of how they came up with this latest plan and the shift in special education funding.

When they rolled out this latest recovery plan, both Wolf and his education folks made one thing clear. Without this radical action, they were not sure if Chester Upland could open its doors in September. And if they did, they hinted they may not be able to function for long, with the red ink likely growing to $40 million during the school year.

Chester Upland is due to open schools the day after Labor Day.

Kenney's decision is a clear victory for charter schools, in particular the biggest charter school in the state, Chester Community Charter School.

But is it a win for the children of Chester Upland? Especially if their school district drowns in a sea of red ink.

The ball just bounced back into the state's lap.

2 more violent incidents

It was a violent day across the Philly suburbs yesterday.

It started at the Chester County Justice Center in West Chester, where a man slashed a sheriff's deputy before being fatally shot by another officer.

In a weird twist, the suspect, 34-year-old Curtis Smith of Coatesville, is the same guy who was arrested back in February for trying to scale the fence outside the White House in Washington, D.C.

Just a few minutes later, gunshots rang out in Glenolden.

Police say a "transaction" went bad. The result? Two men shot, and three men being sought.

One of the men made his way across the street to a business before collapsing on the front steps.

All of this happened in broad daylight. At 1 o'clock in the afternoon.

The mean streets seem to get a little meaner every day.

No Utley, but we still have Larry Bowa

Chase Utley is gone, but we still have Larry Bowa.

Long before we fell in love with Utley - specifically the way he played the game - there was Bowa.

Nothing came easy for Bowa, from the time Phillies Manager Gene Mauch belittled him as not being a major league hitter.

But Bowa persisted, and he became beloved here for the 'blue-collar' way he played the game.

In other words, he was Utley before there was Utley.

He carried that same red streak with him into the coach's and manager's jobs, a trait that did not always go over so well with players. But it never went out of favor with the fans.

That vein that always seemed to be bulging out of Bowa's neck was back in action last night.

The Phillies have been upset with the way the Mets have been pitching in this series. Specifically, they believe they're being quick-pitched, with the Mets delivering to the plate before Phils' batters are ready.

It happened again last night.

Bowa had seen enough.

The fiery bench coach went ballistic and managed to get himself kicked out of the game. The Phils went on to lose again to the Mets, 6-5.

The Phillies season flat-lined a long time ago.

But it's good to see some things don't change.

Nothing wrong with Larry Bowa's pulse.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Aug. 25

The Daily Numbers: 1,000 point plunge for the Dow Jones minutes after the markets opened yesterday.

588 point dip for the market at yesterday’s close.

7.6 percent nosedive overnight for China’s stock market.

22 million dollar deficit in the Chester Upland School District. Officials say that unless a new financial recovery plan is approved, the district will run out of money by December or January.

162 apartments in the West End Flats and 23 new homes in West End Walk that got preliminary OK in Media Borough.

161st state legislative district, which will get a new state rep when Democrat Leanne Krueger-Braneky takes the oath of office.

4 hour preliminary hearing that led to all charges against Attorney General Kathleen Kane being held for trial.

16,000 students and 2,000 staff members at West Chester University, which is working to eradicate an issue with Legionnaire’s Disease bacteria that has popped up in several buildings on campus.

35th anniversary being celebrated at the Rachel Kohl Library in Concord.

8,500 employees to be laid off with closure of A&P markets in New Jersey. That’s 5,000 more than the company indicated last week.

8 home runs surrendered by the Phillies in last night’s ugly 16-7 loss to the Mets.

7-2 lead for the Phils after 2 innings that went up in smoke.

133 days, how long it had been since Mets captain David Wright was in the lineup. He hit a home run in his 1st at-bat.

7 runs, 3 homers and 11 hits total for the Phils, not nearly enough.

11 homers total in the game tied a National League record.

15 extra base hits, 7 doubles & 8 home runs, for the Mets tied a team record.

2.29 ERA for Mets rookie Jacob deGrom, up from 1.98 after he was torched. He lasted only 2 innings and change.

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

Chip Kelly and the Eagles have a problem with the NFL and their interpreation of the read-option. They need a healthy Sam Bradford, and if he’s going to be hit every time he runs one of those plays, that will be a problem.

I Don’t Get It: If the state has known about the dire fiscal straits facing the Chester Upland School District all this time, why did they wait until 2 weeks before the opening of school to make their latest recovery plan public?

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the newest member of the Pennsylvania Legislature. That would be Leanne Krueger-Braneky, who will be sworn in as a state representative after winning the special election in the 161st District.

Quote Box: “It has crushed the budget of the Chester Upland School District.”

- Chester Upland receiver Francis Barnes, on high special education reimbursements for charter schools.

A double-header in Chester Upland

They will be holding something of a double-header in the troubled Chester Upland School District today.

First, state officials and charter school proponents will return to Delaware County Court to continue yesterday's marathon hearing on the state's plan to reduce reimbursements to the charters for special education students.

Yesterday the state spent hours presenting their case before Delco Judge Chad Kenney. The state's latest financial recovery plan for the district includes a forensic audit of the district books, appointment of a financial turnaround specialist, but most importantly a huge reduction in reimbursements for special education students in charters.

Currently, Chester Upland pays a little more than $40,000 for every special education student enrolled in the charter schools. The state plan would reduce that amount to about $!6,000. They say the move, coupled with a change in cyberschool caps, would wipe out Chester Upland's $23 million deficit.

Today attorneys for the charters schools will present the argument against the state plan.

Then both sides will await Kenney's ruling.

Tonight hundreds are expected to pack a meeting where the state-appointed receiver will talk about the plan with the Chester Upland School Board. So many people are expected they had to move the meeting to the high school auditorium. It starts at 6.

We'll be there to cover the story every step of the way.

In the meantime, we also have guest columns today from both sides.

For Chester Upland's view of special education funding, click here.

For the charter school's position, click here.

She's raising Kane again

Give Kathleen Kane this: At least she seems to have retained her sense of humor.

How else would you explain her entrance into at the Montgomery County Courthouse yesterday for her preliminary hearing on charges she leaked grand jury material and then lied to a grand jury about it?

With an a small army of photographers awaiting her appearance, Kane was proceeded into court by her twin sister.

Unless I'm mistaken, I don't believe she has been on hand for any of Kane's other high-profile press conferences or court appearances.

Of course many in the media fell for it, snapping away with the lenses pointed at Kane's sister.

The state's top law enforcement officer followed in behind her, keeping a straight face all the way.

By the way, Kane was held for trial on all charges.

Why the read-option ruling is bad news for the Eagles

Chip Kelly and Sam Bradford have a problem.

His name is Dean Blandino. Don't know who he is? You're not alone. At least until yesterday.

Blandino is the NFL's vice president of officiating. On Monday he weighed in on the debate over the hit Ravens' defensive end Terrell Suggs delivered directly to the twice-reconstructed left knee of Eagles QB Sam Bradford in Saturday night's preseason game.

Bradford was not amused, and told Suggs so. Neither were his teammates. Suggs was slapped with a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on the play.

Suggs fired back, saying it's on the Eagles if they want to expose their quarterback in the "read-option" style of offense Kelly employs.

Yesterday Blandino said Suggs was right, that he should not have flagged.

Yesterday Kelly took issue with Blandino's interpretation, saying the Eagles know the rules, and specifically that the play Bradford was hit on was not a "read-option" play.

But if Blandino's ruling stands, it creates a problem for Kelly and Bradford. The fact is that the Birds do run a fair amount of read-option offense. Bradford could be whacked on those plays in which he has the option to hand the ball off, or pull it back.

Our Eagles beat writer Bob Grotz was on hand for both the game and yesterday's fallout. Here is how he views it.

Now the ball is literally back in Kelly's court. He either has to press his case with the NFL hierarchy that it's probably not a great idea for the league's premier quarterbacks - many of whom run some version of the read-option - to be open targets.

Yes, it's a violent game, and injuries will happen.

But teams could easily look at what Suggs did, followed by Blandino's rules interpretation, and feel free to tee off on Bradford.

Bradford was in the game Saturday night for just one series and got drilled on two of them. That does not bode well for a guy with his history of trouble staying healthy - and on the field.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Aug. 24

The Daily Numbers: 1 p.m., when both sides in the battle over special education reimbursement will be in front of Delco Judge Chad Kenney.

40,000 dollars per student, what Chester Upland currently reimburses charter schools for special education students.

16,000 what the state wants that number reduced to.

23 million dollar deficit, what the district is currently facing.

10,000 volunteers who will be enlisted for the visit by Pope Francis.

2 bodies found in a home in Upper Darby.

2 field on Furey Road in Upper Chi that have been repaired in a year-long project.

4 regional rail line train stations that were selling those special papal passes for use on regional rails during the Sept. 26-27 visit by Pope Francis.

17 miles of roads being repaved this week, covering 11 Delco municipalities.

200 protesters who showed up Sunday to oppose 114 mile pipeline that would move natural gas from Pennsylvania to New Jersey.

32, age of off-duty Philadelphia police officer who was killed when his car struck a tree Saturday night.

1 percent of Pa. tax revenue that comes from taxes and fees generated dkirectly from the extraction of oil and natural gas.

19 people sickened by fumes in a dorm at Kutztown University on Sunday.

2 people stabbed after a dispute among groups at N.J. amusement park bubbled over.

3 Americans saluted as heroes for taking down a gunman on a packed train in France.

2 big hits taken by Sam Bradford during his debut as Eagles QB Saturday night vs. Ravens, including a low shot on that twice-rebuilt left knee. He got up both times.

3 of 5 passing for Bradford in his first action of the season.

2 straight impressive wins for the Eagles in exhibition play.

8 shutout innings tossed by Aaron Nola in a sparkling display vs. the Miami Marlins Sunday.

3 hits, 2 walks and 6 strikeouts for the Phils’ rookie.

50-74 record for the Phils, which moves them into tie with Miami for worst record in Major League Baseball.

3 straight wins over the Marlins in a sweep for the Phils.

21-12 mark for the Phils since the All-Star break.

10th save in 13 chances for Ken Giles, who pitched the 9th.

5 shutouts for the Phillies this year.

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

Sam Bradford took a cheap shot on his rebuilt left knee in his very first series after coming back from surgery. And he survived.

I Don’t Get It: Yes, that is Labor Day and the end of summer staring off in the horizon. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Wallingford-Swarthmore officials, who reviewed parents’ complaints about the new school dress code and came up with an alternate plan.

Quote Box
: “I am hopeful that Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia, which will be such an extraordinary event in the life of the city and indeed a once-in-a-lifetime moment for most people, will be an opportunity for us to reflect upon some of the most important fits which God has given us: Life, family, faith.”

- The Rev. William Donovan, the Delco priest who has played an integral part in the planning for the event.

Battle of Chester Upland goes to court today

All eyes in the Pennsylvania education community will be riveted on a Delaware County courtroom today.

That's where officials with the state Department of Education will face state their case in the latest financial recovery plan for the seemingly perpetually ailing Chester Upland School District.

Unveiled last week, the state's plan includes a forensic audit of the Chester Upland books, and the appointment of a financial turnaround specialist.

But those are just the preliminaries.

The real battle that will play out in front of Delaware County Judge Chad Kenney involves the reimbursement Chester Upland makes for special education students in the district who attend charter schools.

Right now Chester Upland pays more than $40,000 for every special education student who attends a charter school. State officials are flabbergasted at that figure and want the judge to OK a plan that would slash the reimbursement to just more than $16,000.

Coupled with changes in reimbursement for students attending cyberschools, the state says the move could wipe out the district's $23 million deficit.

Without the changes, they say it's possible the district will not be able to open their doors in September. And if they do, they cannot guarantee how long they'll be able to stay open. That $23 million in red ink is expected to grow to more than $40 million if nothing is done.

Charter school backers are not impressed. They believe they are simply going to be made the scapegoat for decades of state control and financial mismanagement that have failed to put Chester Upland on a sound financial footing.

Late Friday afternoon, I had a conversation with A. Bruce Cawley. He represents Chester Community Charter School, the biggest brick and mortar charter school in the state, and the brainchild of political heavyweight Vahan Gureghian.

Cawley doesn't understand why the state is making headlines over the situation in Chester Upland, but is saying nothing about similar reimbursements in more well-to-do districts.

Cawley says gone are the days when charter schools were considered "interlopers" in public education. In fact, nearly half of Chester Upland students sit in charter schools. While the district has been successful in drawing some students back into the public schools, charters are no longer a novelty.

Cawley says the state move is a direct attack on charter schools, as well as a move to limit choice for parents and families who for years have been saddled with a school district that failed their children.

And it's not just the for-profit Chester Community Charter School. Widener University also has a big stake in the charter school business with its Widener Partnership Charter School.

"We think this is a direct attack on charter schools," said Widener spokesman Dan Hanson.

We'll be in court today for the latest in this heavyweight education bout.

Lincoln men

I used my print column today to offer a salute to a Lincoln man.

It's not widely known that groundbreaking civil rights leader Julian Bond, who died last week, had close ties to Lincoln University.

His father, Horace Mann Bond, was the first African-American president of the historically black university.

Bond lived in the Oxford area during his youth, long before he started a lifetime of work in civil rights by being a campus activist at Morehouse University in Georgia.

I shared something in common with Bond.

We were both Lincoln men.

I explain it here.

Sam Bradford takes a hit - and gets up

Sam Bradford had talked for weeks about his desire to get back on the field, take a hit, and then get on with his NFL career.

What happened Saturday night in his first NFL action in more than a year probably wasn't what he had in mind.

After a routine handoff, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs zeroed in on the Eagles QB, and his twice-reconstructed left knee.

That gasp you heard from one end of Eagles nation to the other was Birds' fans holding their breath, waiting to see if Bradford would get up.

He did. And he offered a few choice comments to Suggs, who was flagged for a rare roughing the quarterback penalty on a running play.

A couple of plays later, Bradford took a massive - and legal - hit from another Ravens D-lineman.

Bradford seemed stunned, but he got back to his feet and led the Eagles to a TD on his only series of the game.

Bradford went 3-for-5 in his abbreviated debut, but it's hard to underestimate just how big this moment was.

It was what everyone was wondering since Chip Kelly sent Nick Foles and a draft pick to the Rams for the oft-injured former No. 1 draft pick.

Could Bradford stay healthy? Would his left knee hold up under the rigors of the barely controlled mayhem that is NFL Football. We didn't have to wait long to find out.

The Suggs' hit was a classic shot to the knee, the kind that often results in a QB writing in pain on the ground with his arms holding his lower leg.

Bradford seemed to at least see Suggs coming and was able to brace himself for Suggs as the linebacker went airborne and came in low on the Eagles QB.

For his part, Suggs defended the play, and reminded people that this was a real, live NFL game. He said that if the Eagles planned to exspose Bradford and his knee to hits in a read-option offense, that's not his problem. No red shirt for Bradford here. The only red here was the ire of Bradford, his teammates and Eagles fans at what seemed like a cheap shot.

It won't be the last time that happens this year.

Make no mistake, the fact that the Eagles bulldozed the Ravens for the second straight impressive preseason win was not the most important thing that happened at Lincoln Financial Field Saturday night.

Sam Bradford got hit. Right on that troublesome left knee. And he got up.

You can exhale now, Eagles fans.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The battle for Chester Upland

The ground troops are coming out in the Battle of Chester Upland.

John Hanger, secretary of planning and policy for Gov. Tom Wolf, along with Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, were in town yesterday. They paid a visit to officials at Chester Upland School District, the day after rolling out a new financial recovery plan to put the perpetually broke district on an even economic keel.

They want to do a thorough forensic audit of the district's books, as well as appointing a financial turnaround specialist to aid Francis Barnes, who is serving as the receiver of the troubled district, which has found itself under some form of state control since 1990.

But those are only the preliminaries. The real battle is a push in court by the state to drastically reduce reimbursements for charter schools students.

The Wolf plan - if implemented - would reduce the reimbursement for special education students from $40,000 to a little more than $16,000. State officials say that, coupled with some tweaks in cybercharter schools, the move would wipe out Chester Upland's #23 million deficit.

You read it right. They claim they could actually put Chester Upland in the black.

The flip side is that if this plan is not approved, they say there is a chance Chester Upland will not be able to open their doors in September. And if they do, there is no guarantee as to how long they would be able to continue to operate. If it goes unchecked, the district's deficit could grow to more than $40 million by the end of the year, this despite at least $75 million in additional funding give the district just since 2010.

After they toured the district, Hanger and Rivera stopped by our offices for a sit-down.

During that conversation, I learned something I did not know about the recovery plan.

The reduction in reimbursement would only pertain to special education students, of which there is a disproportionate large number in schools such as Chester Community Charter School, the largest brick-and-mortar in the state and a huge drain on Chester Upland finances. Until last year, more than half of students in the district were enrolled in Chester Community Charter.

According to Hanger, there are approximately 30 percent of students in charter schools in Chester Upland designated as special education. The change they are proposing would have no effect on reimbursements for the other 70 percent of students.

If you're getting the feeling that there is a lot of money tied up in the lucrative education of special education students, you are not alone.

Count the state budget secretary, the guy with his fingers on the purse strings, among that group.

"It's extraordinary," said Secretary Randy Albright of Chester Upland's special education reimbursements, which come to a cool $40,315 per child, much higher than most district in the state. "It's not something we can keep doing. It's literally bankrupting the district."

As you might imagine, the folks at the charter schools don't see it that way.

Last night they held a rally outside Chester Upland's administrative offices to protest the proposed plan. It coincided with a meeting of the Chester Upland School Board. The crowd filled the room and spilled outside.

Charter school officials are painting this as an attack on special education in the district.

"There were hundreds of unhappy people here tonight,," said Dr. David Clark Jr., CEO of Chester Community Charter School. "Charter schools in Chester have an enrollment that equals 55 percent of the student population in the city. We only receive 45 percent of the revenue, so do the math. Now you are talking about taking away 10 percent of the 45 percent."

He slammed the plan as being little more than "robbing Peter to pay Paul."

The two sides will collide again on Monday when state officials will make their case before Delaware County Judge Chad Kenny.

It should be a packed house.

Will Kelly play Sam? He's not saying

There's nothing simple about Chip Kelly.

The man who has acquired the title "genius" enjoys the mental gymnastics he plays with the media and fans.

Last week Kelly threw cold water all over fans' anticipation of seeing Sam Bradford - and his twice-reconstructed left knee - in the Eagles' preseason opener vs. the Colts.

Kelly assured everyone that there was nothing wrong with Bradford, that this was simply his call and he was being cautious with the guy he has anointed his franchise quarterback.

Bradford was disappointed, giving him something in common with fans, and both Kelly and Bradford pointed to tomorrow night's Game 2 of the exhibition season for Bradford's debut.

There's just one problem with that.

Yesterday, Kelly would not confirm that Bradford will in fact play on Saturday night. The coach told the media he still hadn't decided whether to put Bradford in some live action.

Bradford is not wearing a brace. He has not missed a practice or workout. He is champing at the bit to get in, take that first hit, get back up and restart his promising career that has kept him off the field for most of the last two years.

Remember, this guy was the No. 1 pick in the draft.

The only thing keeping him off the field right now is his coach.

And Chip Kelly isn't saying.

I think Bradford will start Saturday night's game, and it would be nice if Kelly would simply tell everyone if that's the case.

But there is nothing simple about the Birds' boss. And he seems to like it that way.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Aug. 20 (Chase Utley Edition)

The Daily Numbers: 13 seasons as a Phillie for Chase Utley, who was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers last night.

2003, when Utley broke into the Phils’ lineup at 2nd base.

.282 career batting average.

233 home runs.

916 Runs Batted In.

1,623 hits.

.301, what Utley hit during 5-year span when Phils took NL East crowns from 2005-2009.

29 homers and 101 RBIs, what he average during that span.

.262 postseason batting average.

5 home runs vs. the Yankees in the 2009 World Series.

.217, what Utley was hitting this season.

.484, what he was hitting after returning to the team after a stint on the disabled list because of a sore ankle.

5 NL East titles, 2 NL pennants, 2 World Series appearances.

1 World Series championship over they Rays in 2008.

1 hellacious championship parade 2 days later.

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

There are now just two players left from that 2008 World Series championship team, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz.

I Don’t Get It: It’s the way sports works, the fall after the rise to great heights. It doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye.

Today’s Upper: Utley’s style of play and his quiet way of doing it is what cemented his reputation with Philly fans.

Quote Box: “World Bleeping Champions.”

- Utley, famously summing things up during World Series Championship celebration in 2008.

Why we loved Chase Utley

And then there were two.

Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz are all that remains of the greatest era in Philadelphia Phillies history.

That's because Chase Utley is no longer a Phillie.

The greatest second baseman in team history - his current .217 batting average notwithstanding - is now a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, ironically reunited with his running mate for all those years, shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

After weeks of rumors on whether they would deal Utley, including a statement just Wednesday morning from G.M. Ruben Amaro Jr. that Chase likely would be with the team for the rest of the season, the Phils pulled the trigger on the deal that sends the face of the franchise to the West Coast in return for two players and cash considerations.

Utley was the most popular Phillie on a team that steamrolled to five straight National League Eastern Division crowns, and of course that unforgettable 2008 World Series championship.

Late last night, after the Phillies beat the Toronto Blue Jays with Utley safely ensconced on the bench, listening to Utley you got a feel for why he was so beloved in this town.

The iceman, the quiet guy who did most of this talking on the field, opened up - just a bit - about what the city that took him to heart meant to him.

It was clear the feeling was mutual.

"I'm not necessarily an emotional guy," Utley said minutes after he tipped his cap to the crowd in his final appearance in a Phillies uniform. "This city's meant a lot to me over the years ... I feel pretty fortunate to be a part of this organization during this special time."

It was the way Utley played that solidified his relationship with the fans.

This was a head-first, run-through-the-wall guy. A lunch pail, blue collar ball player.

In other words, tailor-made for Philadelphia.

Utley paid a price for the way he played the game. His career no doubt was cut short by nagging injuries, in particular balky knees that drastically reduced his effectiveness the last few years.

None of that dims what he meant during that five-year span when he was hitting .301, averaging 29 homers and 101 RBIs in the five-year span from 2005-2009. That includes those five division crowns, two National League pennants, and of course, a parade to remember after the Phils beat the Tampa Bay Rays for the 2008 World Series championship.

It was Utley's daring play, faking a play at second then firing home, that helped cement the win.

It was classic Utley, a heady, gutsy play.

Two days later, the city erupted in joy, gleefully kicked that 'loser' tag to the curb, and united on Broad Street, a million strong thanking Utley and his teammates for making us winners.

It was left to Utley to deliver one of the most famous - and decidedly off-color - quotes in Philadelphia sports history. He declared us world champions, separated by a word that cannot appear in newspapers.

The crowd loved it. They loved Utley. They stood by him even when his legs failed him, when the bottom fell out of his body - and his his stats. We loved that team - Utley, Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, and their down-home manager Charlie Manuel. They made us winners. They gave us a parade. If case you haven't noticed, those are a pretty rare thing in these parts.

Utley never got onto the field last night, offering a simple tip of his cap after joining his teammates in celebrating the win, then heading for what he knew would be his final press conference as a Phillie.

That's actually incorrect. Chase Utley will always be a Phillie.

In the words of Harry Kalas, Chase Utley, you're still the man.

He'll always be a World Bleeping Champion to us.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Aug. 19

The Daily Numbers: $23 million dollar deficit in the Chester Upland School District.

45 million dollars, how much the state says the district overspent between 2003 and 2012.

75 million dollars in additional funding sent to Chester Upland by the state in the last 5 years.

24.7 million dollars in savings proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf by slashing reimbursement for charter school students.

40,000 dollars and change, what Chester Upland currently pays for every special education student that attends a charter school.

16,131.77, what they would pay under the Wolf plan.

5 of Delco’s 15 school districts who held press conference yesterday urging Gov. Wolf and the Legislature to settle their differences and pass a new state budget.

5,500 dollars, how much a woman admitted ripping off from the Susan G. Komen cancer organization in sham fundraising drives. 9 to 23 months in prison for Jennifer Wasco.

1 driver shot and killed on a Chester street. He slammed into several cars before being taken to the hospital.

1 person shot late last night on Upper Darby street.

5,000 dollar reward posted for information on suspect in robbery of CVS store in Springfield.

100,000 dollars personal recognizance bail for U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, who entered not guilty plea to corruption charges in federal court.

4 weeks, how long Maikel Franco is expected to be out of Phillies lineup with a broken wrist. He could miss the rest of the season.

1-5, Phils record without Franco in the lineup.

8-5 loss for the Phils last night vs. the Blue Jays.

5-3 lead for the Phils that went up in smoke in a brutal bullpen showing from Jeanmar Gomez.

4 runs on 4 hits surrrendered by Gomez.

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

Maikel Franco was supposed to be back in the lineup for the Phillies last night. Instead he’s going on the DL. The Phils are 1-5 in his absence. It is not a coincidence.

I Don’t Get It: Using the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which has raised millions in the fght against breast cancer, as a front for a scam in which you pocketed the money? I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Gov. Tom Wolf for attacking the problem of charter school reimbursements in Pennsylvania. Yes, it is an acute problem in Chester Upland, but it affects many school districts across the Commonwealth. It’s time to deal with this issue.

Quote Box: “This has been a sad tale of 25 years of failure.”

- Gov. Tom Wolf, talking about the history of financial woes in Chester Upland.

Tom Wolf vs. the charters

They should sell tickets to this one.

Forget the MMA.

This could wind up being Pennsylvania's own version of a steel-cage match.

On the line is the future of the Chester Upland School District.

The battle pits Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vs. one of the state's biggest contributors to Republican campaign coffers.

That would be Vahan Gureghian, who manages Chester Community Charter School, the largest in the state and one that until recently had lured more than half the students in the Chester Upland School District.

Yesterday Wolf, along with Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, rolled out the latest plan to salvage the perennially broke Chester Upland School District.

And the key to the plan is a push in Delaware County Court to reduce reimbursements to charter schools.

I had a chance to talk to Wolf, and he made it clear his belief that without drastic action, schools in Chester may not open their doors in September.

And even if they are able to open, Wolf questioned their ability to stay open without change.

Key to that change is reducing the reimbursements to the charters, which amounted to 46 percent of district expenditures.

The district, which has been under state control - and under water financially - for years, is currently staring at a deficit in the neighborhood of $23 million.

Wolf says changing the reimbursement for charter school students could actually wipe out the deficit, providing a savings of $24.7 million in the 2015-16 school year.

In particular, Wolf is zeroing in on the cost of special education students, which make up a large number of the charter students. Right now Chester Upland pays more than $40,000 for every special education student that attends a charter school. Wolf's plan banks on the recommendation of a bipartisan state funding education commission, which would realign the reimbursement to a little more than $16,000 per student.

As you can imagine, this isn't sitting especially well with charter school proponents.

The moves was blasted as "a blatant first step in killing charter-school operations at the expense of children," according to the Pennsylvania Coalition on Public Charter Schools.

Actually, it won't be up to Wolf or the charter schools. The move will be ruled on by a Delaware County judge, where the state filed the financial recovery plan on Tuesday.

The plan also includes a forensic audit of the district's finances, and appointment of a turnaround specialist.

But make no mistake. This is a fight over the growing presence - and financial implications - of charter schools.

For a long time, many Chester residents wondered if the state plan actually was to slowly strangle the public school district and eventually turn over all the district schools to the charters.

The Chester Upland School District has been under some form of state control since 1990.

This might be their last stand.

Call it Tom Wolf vs. the Charters. Sell tickets. They could probably make a big dent in the Chester Upland deficit with the proceeds.

Feds join the war on heroin

We used our editorial page today to note the troubling new uptick in heroin-related deaths in the county.

Last week District Attorney Jack Whelan noted that the county had suffered nine heroin-related deaths in just the last week.

There is no area of the county that has gone unscarred in this new surge of heroin use.

It is affecting all areas of the county, men and women, and anywhere from teens to adults.

One of the most troubling aspects of the heroin scourge is statistics that show groups that traditionally were not included in this kind of drug use now falling into its clutches.

There is help on the way, however.

The federal government announced a new attack on the heroin problem. For the first time aligning law enforcement with health officials in a combined effort to tame the heroin-opioid epidemic.

Here's our editorial.

Glow coming off of Mackanin's Philllies

Some of the glow is coming off these Pete Mackanin-led Phillies.

Things got worse yesterday - and that was before the Phils' bullpen imploded, blowing a lead and the game last night to the Toronto Blue Jays.

After blazing out to a 16-5 burst after the All-Star break, the Phils once again are playing like the worst team in the league. They have now lost four straight.

Not surprisingly, they are 1-5 since rookie sensation Maikel Franco went down after being plunked on the left wrist by a pitch in Phoenix.v Yesterday it was revealed that, contrary to the original belief, Franco suffered a broken wrist. He was placed on the disabled list and will likely miss at least four weeks. The rest of his season - as well as the Phils' - is now in jeopardy.

Jack McCaffery talked to Franco about what lies ahead last night.

Jack also notes that no one should hold their breath waiting for the Phillies to trade Chase Utley. Despite everything that seems to indicate that Utley should be gone, he remains a Phillie. And the injury to Franco means he now likely will remain a fixture at second base. Cesar Hernandez, who seemed to replace Utley as the Phils' everyday second baseman, will shift across the diamond to fill Franco's slot at third.

That hissing sound you hear is the last bit of air going out of the Phillies balloon.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Aug. 18

The Daily Numbers: 3 more episodes of the web comedy ‘Delco Proper,’ based on life here in Delco, ordered by Comedy Central.

3 comedians including Drexel Hill native Tommy Pope who write and star in the show.

1 statue of Our Lady of Fatima that brought out the faithful to St. Madeline’s Roman Catholic Church in Ridley Park yesterday.

65, age of man charged with sexually assaulting a girl during a sleepover at his East Lansdowne home.

5, age of the victim.

1.4 million dollars being paid by Delcora to settle claim it let pollutants seep into local creeks, including Ridley Creek, Chester Creek and the Delaware River.

15 dollar boost in the cost of a property tax certificate fee for those involved in real estate transactions in Upper Darby.

70 oil trains that rumble across Pennsylvania every day, including many that traverse Delaware County. Gov. Tom Wolf yesterday unveiled new safety recommendations for the trains.

27 separate recommendations made by Allan Zarembski, a University of Delaware prof and specialist in railroad engineering and safety.

20 dead, 117 hurt in bombing of shrine in Bangkok.

2nd blast reported at the same site this morning. No injuries were reported from this blast.

200 active duty troops who have been pressed into duty to fight dozens of wildfires ravaging the drought-stricken West.

110, age of Emma Didlake of Michigan. Believed to be the nation’s oldest veteran, Didlake passed away Sunday.

3 pop-up concerts, including 1 in Philly, performed yesterday by pop icon Stevie Wonder to promote an upcoming tour.

2.4 billion dollars, what QVC is paying for Zulily, which sells items targeting smartphone-using millennials.

13-12 win for E.J. Hosbach/UBBIBC to take title in 32nd Daily Times/Sunoco Logistics Champs ‘n’ Charity Classic softball tourney.

12 midnight kickoff as is their tradition for 1st football practice for the guys from Bonner-Prendie.

307 goals and 696 points for Danny Briere, who will announce his retirement from NHL after 17 seasons in the league.

6 seasons with the Flyers for Briere.

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

A big thumb’s up to Danny Briere, who will officially retire today with presser at the Flyers workout center in South Jersey. Briere remains one of the most popular Flyers of all time, and was a clutch playoff performer.

I Don’t Get It: Anyone else wonder what the point was of playing that Eagles preseason opener under a broiling 90-degree sun on Sunday? Other than maybe that’s when TV wanted it played.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Drexel Hill native Tommy Pope and his pals who star in “Delco Proper.” Comedy Central has ordered 3 more episodes of the web comedy based on life in Delco.

Quote Box: “The Delco maniac is a special level of maniac and should be respected in its habitat.”

- Tommy Pope, comic and writer of “Delco Proper.”

'Proper' sendoff: Web comedy on life in Delco gets 3 more episodes

The folks at Comedy Central must like us. And a lot of other people do, too.

They're picking up three more episodes of "Delco Proper," the edgy, slightly off-color look at life here in Delco.

Staff writer Patti Mengers got a confirmation from the folks at Comedy Central yesterday that they are ordering at least three more episodes to air on their website.

"Delco Proper" is the work of the funny guys Tommy Pope, an Upper Darby native, and John McKeever. They also star in the show, along with Tim Butterly.

The first show received about 37,000 hits on the Comedy Central website, another 104,000 on its YouTube page and 97,000 on its Facebook page.

Mengers had a chance to talk to Pope yesterday, who said that the next three shows will all be filmed in and around the Delco and surrounding Philly areas.

Pope paid homage to "the Delco maniac" as the basis of the show.

And just what is a "Delco maniac?" You can find out here.

Check out PaPrepLive - Delco's new home for high school sports

Delaware County has a new home for high school sports.

Say hello to Pa. Prep Live. You can find it here.

That's where all our dynamite high school sports will now reside online.

Once there you'll be able to see coverage of your favorite high school teams. Today we were there as Delco schools kicked off the fall sports schedule with the first day of practice. Matt DeGeorge got in on the midnight madness as Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast continued their tradition of starting the season with a practice as the clock hits 12 midnight.

And it's not just football. All your fall sports coverage will be here. Matt DeGeorge also checked in on the Cardinal O'Hara girls volleyball team.

Make sure you bookmark the site. You'll want to check it first thing every morning for the latest on Delco high school sports. And of course on Friday nights in the fall, we'll give you unprecedented live updates of all the football action.

The site will be packed with photos and videos, along with schedules and stats from your favorite team.

In short, PaPrepLive.com will be the new destination for all things high school sports in Delaware County and throughout District One. We want our site to be a one-stop shop for everything a high school sports fan needs. The coverage you are used to — the game recaps, previews, features and commentary — will all be there. But our new platform will provide expanded coverage like we’ve never delivered before, integrating special online features, video and social media all in one place.

Check it out today. Tell us what you like - and what you'd still like to see.

It's Delco's new home for high school sports.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Aug. 17 (Eagles Edition)

The Daily Numbers: 3 Eagles QBs who saw action yesterday in win over Colts in preseason opener. None of them was named Bradford.

36-10 win for the Eagles in front of a sweltering crowd at Lincoln Financial Field with temperatures in the 90s.

7 yard TD run for Tim Tebow, who received a standing ovation when he entered the game in the 3rd quarter.

6 of 12 passing for Tebow, for 69 yards, and 2 sacks.

2 for 7 for 52 yards and a TD for starter Mark Sanchez.

12 for 20 for 192 yards for Matt Barkley, along with an INT on a batted ball.

1 missed field goal and 1 missed PAT for kicker Cody Parkey.

33 yards, where that point-after is kicked from now after a rule change.

412 yards racked up by Chip Kelly’s offense.

281 yards surrendered by Birds’ defense.

3 catches for 57 yards for Eagles rookie wide receiver Nelson Agholor, including 39-yard TD.

95 yard punt return for TD by Kenjon Barner.

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

Nobody got hurt. That might be most important thing to come from Eagles preseason opener. Let’s hope we can say the same thing next week when Sam Bradford makes his debut.

I Don’t Get It: No Sam Bradford. I understand why Chip Kelly decided against playing Bradford, and his twice-reconstructed left knee. It’s still disappointing. But after watching Mark Sanchez, we know why Kelly went and got a franchise QB.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the fans who gave a standing ovation to Tim Tebow when he entered the game in the third quarter. Tebow didn’t disappoint, showing he might be an option for the Birds in goal line situations.

Quote Box: “It’s very humbling, a blessing. I appreciated it.”

- Tim Tebow on the standing he received from Eagles fans when he entered the game.

A salute to Julian Bond from a Lincoln man

While I did not get my degree there, I still consider myself a proud alum of Lincoln University.

I spent my first two years of college there after graduating from high school in 1973. I learned a lot of things at Lincoln University, foremost of which was a very small slice of what a minority experience is like.

I had spent my life seeing pretty much what I saw every day in Oxford, Pa. A lot of faces that looked just like mine, almost always being part of a majority.

Then one day I sat down in a classroom at Lincoln University and realized mine was the only face that looked like that.

It's an eye-opening experience, and one I treasure to this day.

I try to treat people every day the way I was treated at Lincoln University.

The Lincoln community - and really the nation - lost an icon on Sunday.

Julian Bond died. He was 75.

Bond went on to national prominence, but I will always remember his ties to our area, Lincoln in particular. His father, Horace Mann Bond, was the school's first black president.

Julian Bond was born in Nashville, Tenn., but he spent his formative years in the Oxford area as his father led the historically black college.

Julian Bond spent much of his life in the struggle for civil rights and equality for all citizens.

In 1971 he formed the Southern Poverty Law Center. He had risen to the national stage in the civil unrest and protests that marked the late '60s. He helped start the Student Non-Violence Coordinating Committee.

He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, but his colleagues refused to let him take his seat because of his opposition to the Vietnam War.

After prevailing in a case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, Bond served in the George House until 1975 and then six terms in the Georgia Senate. He was primarily responsible for carving out a district in U.S. Congress that better reflected its black constituents. It's the seat that has been held so honorably for years by Congressman John Lewis.

His name was put into nomination for vice president at the raucous 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Turns out he was too young at the time to accept.

Almost every key civil rights advance in this country has Julian Bond's fingerprints on it. He was elected board chairman of the NAACP in 1998 and served as chairman for 10 years.

Despite rising to national prominence, Bond never forgot his roots, including those sewn at the little school outside Oxford. Bond returned often to speak. He also taught in the region, at both Drexel and Penn.

The nation and region has lost a treasure.

It's one felt just a little more acutely by those of us with a connection to Lincoln University.

A tale of 2 QBs: The arrival of Tebow mania

The big story of the Eagles preseason opener was the guy who was not in uniform - and the guy who was but may not be come opening day. Of course, Chip Kelly pulled the plug on the debut of Sam Bradford on Friday, saying he would wait a week before taking the wraps off his franchise QB next Saturday night against the Ravens.

That meant all eyes at a sweltering Lincoln Financial Field would be on the Birds' backups. And of course that could mean only one thing.

Tebow-mania.

Tim Tebow actually shares something in common with Sam Bradford. Neither of them played a down of regular season football in the NFL last year.

Bradford shredded the ACL in his left knee in the preseason, the second time he had ripped up his knee. Tebow spent the year out of the NFL, in the broadcast booth working as an analyst on SEC games.

Tebow had to wait his turn in the Eagles QB rotation. He didn't get on the field until the second half, after Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley had staked the Eagles to a comfortable lead en route to an easy 36-10 win.

As the starter, Mark Sanchez reminded everyone why Kelly swapped Nick Foles and a draft pick to the Rams for Bradford, even with those two successive knee injuries.

Sanchez looked erratic, throwing everything high, although that did not stop rookie Nelson Agholor from going up and hauling one in, then zipping down the sideline for a 34-yard TD.

Barkley, who now seems to be locked in a battle with Tebow for the No. 3 QB slot, was effective, going 12-of-20 for a TD and one batted ball that was picked off.

Then, midway through the third quarter, a roar slowly built from the Philly faithful. After a standing ovation, it was Tebow time.

And once again, Tebow showed what could be his most interesting quality, as an option in the red zone. Tebow pulled the ball down and rumbled 7 yards for a TD, diving over the pylon at the finish. Eagles fans have not exactly forgotten that the Birds lost two games last year - vs. the Cardinals and 49ers - because they were unable to punch the ball into the end zone from the 2-yard line. Those two games were part of the reason - along with a late season collapse in which they lost three straight - that the Eagles failed to make the playoffs despite winning 10 games for the second straight year under Kelly.

Tebow ended up with 15 yards rushing on four carries, while completing six of 12 passes. He also was sacked twice.

One person was impressed.

Columnist Jack McCaffery liked what he saw of Tebow.

Now it's on to the Main Event. Bradford - and his twice-reconstructed left knee - will be in the spotlight as the Eagles play Game Two of the preseason vs. the Ravens.

Wonder if he'll get a standing ovation when he jogs onto the field.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Heron's Nest: The Daily Numbers for Friday, Aug. 14

The Daily Numbers: 9 heroin deaths that have rocked Delaware County in less than a week.

42 deaths thought to be heroin-related since January.

81 lives saved by officers using Narcan since ‘David’s Law’ went into effect last November. Narcan can reverse the effects of a heroin or opioid overdose.

20,000 dollar grant that was used to spruce up the STEM Academy High School in Chester in a program with Allstate Foundation and the Philadelphia Union Foundation.

150,000 dollars cash bail for a Chester man jailed on charges that he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old boy.

1 Democrat who has announced to run vs. Kathleen Kane for the attorney general nod. That would be Haverford’s own Jack Stollsteimer. He’s a longtime prosecutor. Kane, facing criminal charges, is vowing to seek re-election.

5 mile walk facing some folks who will be going from New Jersey to see the pope. They will need to walk across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

3 different security zones set up for areas in Philly where the pope will take part in events.

40 days until Pope Francis vists the city for the World Meeting of Families.

1.5 millon people expected to flow into the city for a Mass by the pope on the Parkway Sunday afternoon.

3.5 mile traffic box in the city where no vehicles will be allowed, running from the Delaware River to 38th Street, and from Girard Avenue down to South Street.

25 miles of highway that will be closed in total.

2 even tighter security areas inside that outlying box that will be fenced off.

10 p.m. Thursday Sept. 24, when event perimeter for Parkway goes into effect.

4 days when Philly schools will be closed Sept. 23-25, and also Monday, Sept. 28.

67 killed in bombing at a Baghdad market.

50 dead, hundreds injured in massive blast in Chinese city of Tianjin.

80, what Social Security turns today.

1 p.m. Sunday, when the Eagles kick off the season with preseason tilt vs. the Colts.

6 under 66 that puts Dustin Johnson in the lead after Round 1 of the PGA, golf’s final major of the year.

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

Will Chase Utley still be a Phillie at the end of the day? Will Sam Bradford play for Eagles on Sunday? Stay tuned.

I Don’t Get It: “Sesame Street” is moving to HBO. Actually, it’s an expansion. I still don’t get it.-

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Philadelphia Union and Allstate Foundations, which combined to help kids spruce up the STEM Academy High School in Chester.

Quote Box: “Nine is probably the highest number we’ve seen in such a short span of time.

- Delco D.A. Jack Whelan, on recent spike in heroin deaths.

Going to see pope? Bring your walking shoes - & your patience

We have now heard once again from both Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and New Jersey transit officials on the plans for the visit by Pope Francis in September.

Here's some advice: Bring your walking shoes. And your patience. A few prayers might not hurt.

First things first: Yes, there will be a fence.

The fence will encompass two areas, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Independence Hall. If you're headed into those areas, you are going to need to pass through magnetometers and other security devices.

There are actually three areas of security in the city.

The first outline basically runs from the Delaware River to 38th Street to the west, and from Girard Avenue north to South Street in the South. This entire area will be closed to incoming traffic starting at 6 p.m. Friday Sept. 25 in Center City and 10 p.m. in West Philly. Something important to note: You will be able to drive inside this box, but if you leave you will not be allowed to get back in until Monday.

Inside the so-called green box there are two more key areas - a secure vehicle perimeter where all vehicles are banned except for designated vehicles. Finally, inside that area there is one more "event perimeter" around the Parkway and Independence Hall, where security will be ramped up even more.

You can get all the details here.

In the meantime, is this: Put on your walking shoes.

Officials there indicated they will close the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and require all pilgrims to walk across the span into Philadelphia and on to the Parkway.

There will be little or no parking in Camden.

The hike can be as little as 4-5 miles, which could take a couple of hours, or as much as an 11-mile expedition, which would take substantially longer.

Officials were pretty blunt about the situation. If you can't handle that kind of a hike, you should seriously consider whether or not to go into the city.

You can read about the Jersey situation here.

On Sunday, make sure you pick up a copy of the Daily Times as we talk to businesses here in Delco that will be in the heart of the action. They sit close to the few train stations that will be open to ferry thousands of the faithful into the city. We'll talk to businesses in Marcus Hook, Media, and Upper Darby.

Don't miss it on Sunday.

Will Bradford play on Sunday?

Here's what we know this morning, Philly sports fans.

Chase Utley is still a Phillie, at least for now. There are published reports that the San Francisco Giants have made the Phillies an offer and are waiting to hear back from the team. The Phils are due to open a weekend set in Milwaukee tonight. Here's what we don't know.

Will Sam Bradford be lined up behind center when the Eagles kick off the preseason Sunday vs. the Colts at the Linc?

Birds boss Chip Kelly is due to speak to the media at 11 a.m. and is expected to announce his QB rotation. Of course, Eagles fans are anxious to see Bradford - and his twice reconstructed left knee - in real action when he is not wearing that red shirt that signifies hands off.

Most Eagles fans likely will breathe a sigh of relief once Bradford takes that first hit, and pops back up off the turf.

Columnist Jack McCaffery makes the case that Bradford needs to play - at least a little - on Sunday.

I completely agree.

It won't be a make-or-break moment, starting quarterbacks routinely make only a cameo, perhaps one or two series, in the exhibition opener.

But this is not the normal opener. Kelly has staked much of his reputation on the move to deal Nick Foles and a draft pick to the Rams for Bradford, who missed all of last season after shredding the ACL in his left knee, the same problem that derailed his previous seaason.

In other words, Bradford has played very little football in the last two seasons.

All reports coming from camp is that Bradford has looked very good.

Camp is one thing; standing in that pocket with huge men bearing down on you wishing to do you bodily harm is another.

Bradford needs to play Sunday, at least a little.

To his credit, Bradford has said he wants to play, while admitting this is Kelly's decision.

Eagles Nation awaits the coach's call.

Put him in, Chip.