Friday, January 29, 2016

You can't hide behind the keyboard

You cannot hide behind a keyboard.

Tell me about it.

That message was delivered loud and clear by Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan yesterday. He was in Chester responding to the second incident involving an online threat in two days.

A 17-year-old female student at Chester High School was tracked down and arrested just hours after she posted a nasty racial message on Instagram threatening to shoot up all schools in the Chester Upland School District, the two Chester Community Charter Schools, and Chichester High School. She ended her message with this: "All blacks must die."

Less than 24 hours later, apparently in response to the girl's arrest, a Media man went online and threatened violence against Chester police officers and their families.

In the instance of the teen girl, Whelan said she was taken aback when police showed up at the door of the home in Chester Township where she was staying for a sleepover. She tearfully admitted posting the message while talking to investigators at the police station, saying it was part of a dare.

Whelan wanted to stress that such incidents are no longer considered harmless pranks. And he made it very clear people should not be under the delusion that the Internet offers them a place to hide while posting such dangerous thoughts.

"That is not the case," Whelan said of anonymity. It only took a few hours to track down both of the suspects in this case. "We are coming with out team of investigators."

I know a little something about this notion of hiding behind a keyboard.

On our website, readers can post comments on every story, for the most part without putting their real name next to their comments. I'm always amazed at what people are willing to say when their name does not sit beside it.

We run a column in the paper every day called Sound Off. It is insanely popular. It also is ridiculed by people who believe we should not be offering a forum for people to spout off about anything they want anonymously.

There is a part of me that agrees with them. Everything I write for this newspaper has my name behind it. Everything I tweet, post on Facebook and blog about clearly is directly connected to me.

With one exception.

In general our editorials are not signed. They are the collaborative work of our editorial board. But they are usually actually written by one person.

Me.

Yesterday no shortage of people called, emailed and posted online that something fairly important was missing from the editorial on the ugly new twist that came with the treat against local schools.

The editorial lamented that race was now brought into the picture. With the threat specifically targeting black students. I am an early-morning person. It is generally when I do the bulk of my writing for the day. Right now I am putting together my blog. It is not yet 7 a.m.

Yesterday when I wrote that editorial, the race of the suspect had not yet been released.

In my later blogs as well as our updated news stories, we pointed out the irony that the young female high school student in this incident also was black.

That fact did not make it into the editorial. It should have, and several readers told me exactly that. They were right. So is Whelan.

You can't hide behind the keyboard.

Delco takes another step in the war on heroin ODs

Delaware County continues to be the leader in the war on the ravages of heroin abuse, which is taking a horrific toll not only here but across the region and country.

Led by District Attorney Jack Whelan, the county was the first to get a drug that can reverse the effects of someone who is overdosing in the hands of police. The county put Narcan, a form of the drug Naloxone, into every police car. The result already has been dramatic, with lots of lives saved that would have no doubt died from a drug overdose.

Today Whelan will be joined by local police at the Ridley Police Department for a press conference at which the county will unveil the next step. They will be the first in the state to put a new nasal spray form of Narcan into the hands of cops and first responders.

And there is an added benefit for the county. The drug is being distributed by a Delco firm, Adapt Pharma.

Check back later today for all the details on this new effort to halt the ravages of heroin abuse.

Chester Dems hold gala - in Springfield

They say to the victor goes the spoils.

Chester Democrats will gather tonight to celebrate their big wins in November.

Longtime Democratic state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland topped former Republican Mayor Wendell Butler to take the top prize in City Hall. Several Democratic victors for seats on City Council - including Nafis Nichols and Elizabeth Williams - who both were re-elected, will be joined by new Councilman Dennis Daye and several members of the Chester Upland School Board, including new faces Maria Lopez Wilson and Raushanah Carter.

The event is put on by the Chester City Democratic Committee every two years to coincide with the local election. The winners will gather with local and state dignitaries. In a press release, Chester City Democratic Committee Chairwoman Livia Smith said as many as 700 people could attend.

It's been a busy couple of weeks for the new administration. They've established a new homicide reward fund, and this week had their hands full with two cases of online threats, one that targeted students in the Chester Upland and Chester Community Charter Schools, and a second in response to an arrest in that case that targeted Chester police officers and their families.

No doubt tonight's gala will provide some relief after a fairly tense week.

What I find kind of curious is the location.

The Chester Dems will gather at Springfield Country Club?

Huh? Why not hold this kind of shindig in the city.

Did they shut down Harrah's? Did they not have a room big enough to handle the 700 people expected.

I would think the new administration would want to keep that business inside the city.

Maybe there's a very good reason why they are traveling to Springfield. I'd like to hear it.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Another day, another online threat

Another day, another online threat.

Welcome to the Wild, Wild West.

Just hours after a Chester High School student was arrested for threatening to shoot up several schools, a man in Media was arrested for posting online threats against Chester Police.

The teen girl posted a threat on her Instagram account that "I'm coming tomorrow shooting up every Chester Upland School District school, Chester Community Charter School (both) and Chichester High School as well."

She signed off by adding a racial element to her threats: "All blacks must die."

The teen, who also is black, told authorities after she was taken into custody that she was acting on a dare.

Hopefully, as she sits in the county Juvenile Detention Center in Lima, she realizes this was no joke.

She apparently was in tears as she talked to police. She was staying with friends in Chester Township when police arrived at the home at 2:30 a.m.

You can get all the details here.

In the meantime, a few hours later a Media man was arrested for posting online threats against Chester police. Early reports indicate he was reacting to the teen's arrest. There is no indication as yet that he knew the teen.

David Millbourne, 23, was taken into custody and faces charges of making terroristic threats and harassment.

In the meantime, we used our editorial page to talk about the ugly new twist the teen's case brings up.

It's the world we live in.

The early morning roads report

You can set your watch by it.

Every time we get a big snow, it sets off a chain of events. During the day, when it warms up, snow starts to melt. Overnight, when temperatures dip, whatever is on the road refreezes.

It was a very cold 18 degrees when I got in the car this morning, so I was expecting to hit slick spots on the way in. Actually, I had smooth sailing.

That's not the case everywhere, however.

Reports already indicated a spin-out accident causing problems on the northbound Blue Route to the ramp to go west on the Schuylkill Expressway, heading out to King of Prussia.

Be prepared. You might hit a slick spot anywhere. This is particularly true on bridges, overpasses and on and off ramps.

Be careful out there.

You can get the full traffic report for the region here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Another ugly racial threat: It's the world we live in

We live in an ugly world.

Part of that ugliness resides in a world I know all too well. It's the cyberworld of anonymous posters - or at least they think they are - who fill the Internet with their own special brand of hate.

There are a lot of things I like about the Internet. Actually, I don't have a lot of choice. It's where I spend most of my day. If you haven't noticed, the way we deliver information to readers has radically changed. No longer are we content to print the newspaper once a day. News no longer pays much attention to our old print deadlines, or clocks in general. It's a 24-hour enterprise.

That ability, being able to stream an unlimited amount of information to readers 24 hours a day, is among the best aspects of the online world in which I toil.

The worst? That's pretty easy as well.

We who practice this craft called journalism are no longer alone. We still have a large voice. But we are hardly the only voice.

Today, every person with person with a phone, tablet or laptop is a publisher. That is not always a good thing.

I do not publish anything - on Twitter, Facebook or the Daily Times (both in print or online) - that my name does not stand behind. Nothing I do is anonymous.

Obviously, not everyone online plays by the same rules.

You'd be amazed what people are willing to say under the veil of anonymity. I call it the tech version of "beer muscles." "Internet muscles," if you will.

Don't believe me? Simply scroll down to the bottom of any story posted on DelcoTimes.com and look at some of the comments that are posted there. All too often, it devolves quickly into name-calling and racial invective.

I am not sure why, but far too many stories eventually come down to an issue of black and white. And I'm not talking about newsprint. Racism is not new. The ways it is disseminated are.

In part, we can blame ourselves for part of this. We do no monitor online comments, or edit them before they are posted. We react to what is posted only after someone complains.

I sometimes refer to conversations that take place online as the "wild, wild West."

If only they were that tame.

Last night, some misguided individual decided to post a threat against students at schools in Chester and Chichester school districts.

It was hateful stuff. It was hateful stuff, specifically targeting black students at "every Chester Upland School District School, Chester Community Charter School and Chichester High School." The Instagram post signed off with an ugly threat that singled out all black students.

I first became aware of it while performing my last daily online task - making one last check of my email before sliding off into a coma for a few hours.

I got an email from a friend, Sister Maggie Gannon from Drexel Neumann Academy in Chester. She received the threat from one of her parents and was looking for guidance. I told her she should immediately contact Chester police and the county District Attorney's Office. Then I called the office to make sure we were aware of the threat, and checking with authorities to see if they considered it credible and were investigating.

Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland's office, as well as Upland police and Chichester School District quickly confirmed that they were aware of the threat and that it was being investigated.

In the overnight hours, they announced the arrest of a 17-year-old girl, a student at Chester High.

We likely will learn later today what charges might be filed in the case, and whether or not the girl will be charged as an adult. I quickly alerted Sister Maggie this morning of the arrest to try to put her mind at ease. I imagine she had a very uneasy night. There are a lot of good people in this county, and in the city of Chester as well.

Sister Maggie is one of the best.

I could tell from the tone of her emails that she was concerned and genuinely wondering what the school should do.

Likewise, it has been an especially trying time for Dr. Kathy Sherman. She's the superintendent of the Chichester School District. Last week she was dealing with a bomb threat, one linked to a series of threats made against schools up and down the East Coast. The district schools were evacuated after the threat.

Last night she posted on the school district Facebook page about the latest threat, noting that police were immediately notified and they were working to determine if it was credible.

As you might expect, the original posted threat and community reactions blew up on the Internet.

Chester Upland schools will be open as normal today. They actually had been closed the past two days as the city continues to recover from the monster snow storm over the weekend.

Clearly, recovering - and eradicating - the kind of ugly hate that lurks in all those small, dark corners of the Internet, is going to take a bit longer.

We will follow up on the story today.

Developments will be quickly posted on our website, Twitter and Facebook.

I shudder to think about the tone of the comments that will undoubtedly follow, most by people unwilling to put their name beside their thoughts.

That's the world we live - and work - in today.

I think of these things every time I hear someone make the comment that we have come so far when it comes to race relations in this country?

I have no doubt that is true. I also have no doubt we still have a long way to go.

Your early morning roads report

Here's a report on road conditions after another early-morning commute.

Forget the reports of icy spots or 'black ice.' I encountered neither.

Actually, I was surprised when I left the house how warm it was. The temperature recorded on my odometer said 37 degrees, well above freezing. And it's supposed to go up to the lower 40s later. Here's the full forecast.

The roads I used (West Chester Pike, Providence Road, Route 1 Bypass, Springfield Road) were just wet. I did not encounter any slick spots. It's just too warm.

Several Delco schools are still going on a two-hour delay this morning. You can find the list here. Schools in the Chester Upland School District will be open today for the first time since the monster storm hit over the weekend.

One thing that remains problematic is the amount of snow out there, which is creating very narrow roadways and small turn areas. I felt bad for people waiting for SEPTA buses. The shelters are long ago buried under a mountain of snow. Be careful in these areas. Riders literally in some spots are standing in the road as they wait for their ride.

The snow mounds also are believed to have contributed to a bus accident yesterday out in Chester County.

OK, we've had our big winter storm.

Bring on spring.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Jan. 26: Who got how much snow?

Today we will dedicate the column to snow totals. Here’s who got how much snow in the Blizzard of 2016:

31.9 inches in Allentown.

32 inches in Reading.

Reading 32.0

31.5 inches in Sinking Spring

20.5 inches in Bensalem

27 inches in Washington Crossing

18.9 inches in Atglen

25.5 inches in Caln.

22 inches in Chadds Ford

30.3 inches in Coatesville.

22 inches in Exton.

15.3 inches in Kennett Square.

23.2 inches in Oxford.

26 inches in Phoenixville.

23 inches in Unionville.

25 inches in West Chester.

21.3 inches in Aston.

22 inches in Broomall

17.5 inches in Glen Mills

20 inches in Springfield.

21 inches in Upper Darby.

29 inches in Bryn Mawr.

26 inches in Pottstown

26.7 inches in Royersford.

16 inches in Christiana, Del

. 16.1 inches at New Castle County Airport.

16.3 inches in Talleyville.

22.4 inches at Philadelphia International Airport.

Relocating the Green Valley Motor Inn

As usual, my sense of geography was less than sterling.

Or maybe it was just the latest case of my addled memory failing me.

No shortage of readers pointed out a fairly glaring error in my Monday print column.

As I detailed some of my memories of the Blizzard of '96, coincidentally almost exactly 20 years previous to this weekend's massive Blizzard of 2016, I recounted how it was the only time in 33 years that I did not make it home.

Along with a few other hearty Daily Times employees, I holed up for two nights at the Green Valley Motor Inn up on Baltimore Pike.

But I indicated the Green Valley sat where the Best Buy is now.

Wrong!

That was the site of the legendary Alpine Inn.

The Green Valley was across the street from the Bazaar of All Nations, where the Saturn of Westbrook Park went in and which now is the AAA service center and Pa. Driver's License Center.

Most of the readers were pretty good-natured about pointing out my mistake, and to a person they agreed with me about winter. Enough already!

Still, I should have known better. Delco folks take the icons and landmarks - especially those that are no longer there - seriously. My apologies. Hey, it proves one thing. People are reading my column.

Thanks for all your replies.

Beware the re-freeze

You can set your watch by it.

First we get the drumbeat warning of snow.

This time, they were on the money. We got hammered with as much as two feet of snow in some parts.

Then the sun comes out and the Big Melt commences.

That, of course is followed by the predictable warning for the morning commute:

Beware the refreeze.

Black ice!

Icy patches!

We're doomed - again.

Actually, I just drove in, and to be honest, I didn't encounter much in the way of ice. Yes, there are a couple of patches on side roads that still have a bit of snow cover.

And I did notice one car that had spun out on the ramp from northbound Route 1 Bypass to get on the Blue Route.

But other than that, I had smooth sailing.

In fact, I would say that the roads were in much better shape today than they were yesterday, in particular getting a little more space to maneuver. At times yesterday there was barely enough space for two cars to get through in different directions. It looks like the melt helped with that. Also, some of the huge snow piles at intersections that made making turns an adventure were better today.

Even still, lots of school districts are going with a two-hour delay. Chester Upland, which seems to be having the most problems clearing snow, will be closed again today.

You can get a full rundown on school closing and late delays here.

And one final thought. That storm you've already been hearing about for this weekend? This just in, it looks like it's going out to sea. Gets my vote.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Your Monday morning roads report after monster snow

If you're not still in school, or a teacher or school administrator, you're facing the task of making the trek to work today. There is good news and bad news.

I just made the commute into beautiful downtown Primos.

Full confession: Since I worked last night, I actually started working this morning from home. That's part of the problem. Normally when I'm on the road, there is almost no one else out. It's nice to have the road to yourself.

You won't have that luxury this morning. For more reasons than one.

First things first: The main roads are fine. Yes, there are a few snow-covered spots, but I just sailed down West Chester Pike and Route 1 Bypass. No problems.

I even dated Providence Road, and it wasn't really an issue.

The biggest problem you might have is getting out of your development, and maybe your driveway, depending on how good a shoveling job you did.

That does not mean there are not issues.

Here's the biggest problem. There is so much snow piled up on the sides of the road, that the passageways are much narrower than normal. In many instances, there is barely enough room for two cars to pass in different directions. Turn lanes have been obliterated in some spots.

Any time you are taking a turn, use caution, the snow is piled on every corner, not leaving much space to complete your turn. I ran into one big issue when I cruised up to the light at the new intersection to go right on Route 252 from Providence Road near Rose Tree Park. Normally when I tool through there earlier, there is no one on the road, I take my right turn and sail on toward the Bypass.

Not this morning. The right-turn lane was still snow-covered. The guy in front of me was trying to take a left. And that's the problem.

The light never changed. All it did was give the right-hand turn green light. But he wanted to go left. It never gave him a green light. The guy behind me, of course, decided to lay on the horn. Eventually he went around both of us and made his right turn. Not that bright since that is the lane cars were using to turn left from Route 252 to go on Providence.

I actually waited through another entire light before I also went around the guy.

Take it easy and you won't have a problem. Just be sure to realize you don't have anywhere near as much space as you normally do.

That's a testament to how much snow we got.

A snowless winter? Uh, not any more

So much for El Nino.

And our snowless winter.

I should have known it was too good to be true.

It started snowing on the ride home Friday night. It did not stop until late Saturday night. That's right, 24 hours of snow.

Jonas lived up to his billing. And who had the silly idea of naming winter storms anyhow.

I don't find anything about the snow cute.

I think I shoveled out the driveway three different times on Saturday. And of course I had a few more inches to deal with when I got up Sunday morning.

For the most part, it looks like we survived. Thankfully, we never lost power.

Schoolkids should be happy. They're getting a long weekend with a day off today.

Plowing is another thing altogether. With this much snow, anywhere from 14 inches to 2 feet across the region, plowing was a challenge. One of the problems is where to put it. After heaving snow up and over a four-foot-high wall of snow in the driveway, I have a new appreciation for the guys manning these plows.

It could have been worse.

I was working from home.

Twenty years ago, that was not the case.

It's in my weekly print column.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Waiting for the snow

And now we wait.

The Blizzard Watch has been posted.

The State of Emergency is in place.

The only thing missing is the snow.

I wish I could tell you that, like so many times in the past, this monster will change course at the last minute and spare us.

I don't think that's going to happen. The fact is we're going to get snow. Lots of it.

Want some good news, especially if you're like me and are not a fan of either snow or winter cold? Today won't be a problem. The kids will get to school. Sorry, kids. You'll be able to make your morning commute. Even the ride home tonight is not expected to be affected.

Snow is not expected to start falling until a little later, around 8 or 9 p.m.

But once it starts, it's not supposed to stop until Sunday morning. You read that right. We're looking at maybe 24 hours of snow. Right now most estimates are calling for 12-18 inches of snow. Of course, that could change, depending on the path of the storm. Down in D.C., which seems like ground zero for this snow monster, they're looking at 2 feet of snow. They were paralyzed by an inch of snow that fell during the evening rush Wednesday night.

Here at DelcoTimes.com, we plan to be posting updates through the day tomorrow.

This is where you come in. We want you to tell us what you are seeing, what conditions are like on your streets. If you happen to be out on the roads (we don't recommend it), let us know how the sledding is.

v By all means, send us your photos and video.

We will have a live blog running all day tomorrow. You can take part by using the hashtag #delcosnow on Twitter. Email photos to editor@delcotimes.com.

In the meantime, here is a handy-dandy Snow Survival Guide chock full of tips to help you deal with the Blizzard of 2016. They tell me they have named this bad boy Jonas.

I don't like the notion of putting cute names on winter storms.

There is nothing cute about what we are going to be dealing with over the next 48 hours.

We'll get through it together.

See you online.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

What an editor thinks about when a big storm hits

Our "Get-Out-Winter-Free Card" is about to expire.

I'm not one to hype the weather. It's not exactly a secret that I hate winter, and the cold, and in particular snow.

But at this point there isn't much avoiding it, we're going to take a hit this weekend.

I suppose it would not be out of the question that these forecasts could change. I'm not banking on it.

Right now the National Weather Service is calling for a foot of snow or more along the I-95 corridor.

This storm will be arriving from the south. Actually, Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland are in the bull's eye. They're going to get hit harder that we will.

The farther north you are, the more likely you will get slammed by this storm.

I suppose you could say that we are getting a break in that the storm is not expected to arrive until after the Friday night rush hour. The kids will be fine getting home from school. Everyone will be able make the commute from work. Then they can hunker down inside for a long, snowy winter weekend.

They don't work for a newspaper.

In case you have not turned on your TV, weather is big news. Especially when it snows. And in particular when they are calling for as much snow as we're looking at this weekend.

Technology actually has helped in this regard. I suppose I should stop cursing it. There was a time when we absolutely had to make it into the office in order to put out the newspaper. No more. All we need is power and access to the Internet. Everything we do is in the "Cloud" these days.

Reporters and photographers will still have to head out into the elements to record what is going on, but we can actually post the information online, and put the print edition together anywhere.

Do not mistake that for me liking any of this - even for a second.

I have enough stress in my life. Snow does not help.

So what does an editor think about in these situations? No, I'm not talking about people jamming the supermarket to buy bread, milk and eggs.

Instead, I'm wondering if anybody has a wedding planned for Saturday? If you do, we'd love to talk to you about what you plan to do. Any expectant moms out there? If you're due this weekend, we'd love to know how you're holding up.

Also, several local schools are offering the SAT exams on Saturday. I wonder if they will go ahead as planned.

I think about guys manning the plows, and how long they will be working on Saturday. And of course the landscape guys who moonlight in the winter plowing parking lots and other spots. They haven't had a lot to do so far this winter. Their ship is about to come in.

No doubt there will be some brave folks who get stranded out in the snow and cold. We'll be looking for them as well. If you have an idea for a story, contact me at editor@delcotimes.com.

We'll get through this. And, much as we did after the great 30-inch Blizzard of '96, we'll talk about it for years.

Just one thing. Is it too late to take the next flight for Key West?

Chichester did the right thing

Yesterday we detailed the threat made against the Chichester School District and how the school reacted - evacuating students and eventually closing school for the day.

Schools were open as usual on Wednesday, but you have to wonder if things were what you would call "normal."

These are not easy days to be school administrators. Or law enforcement officials.

One thing we know: The days of phoning in a bomb scare or other threat against a school are over.

Not in the wake of those horrific images from Columbine and Sandy Hook.

Officials in Chichester did the right thing, reacting quickly and taking precise actions to keep the students and staff safe.

We talk about it on our editorial page today.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A tough day in the Chichester School District

We have a policy here at the newspaper when it comes to bomb threats.

We don't normally cover them, especially if they turn out to be baseless and the public is not affected.

Obviously, as anyone looking at our front page today can attest, we veered from that policy yesterday.

We did so for a couple of reasons, and no, selling newspapers was not really at the top of that list.

The Chichester School District was one of many school districts up and down the East Coast that were dealing with a phone threat against the district and students.

A similar situation was taking place down in Delaware, where three schools were evacuated.

Chichester chose to evacuate all their students.

They followed their protocol in these instances.

The fact that the district chose to evacuate changed the way we looked at the story. That certainly has an effect on the public. The district notified parents, and at the same time urged them not to go to the schools to pick up their children. We started receiving notification from parents on social media wondering what was going on.

This is the world school officials and law enforcement now live in every day.

Gone are the days when bomb scare are considered harmless pranks.

The images of Sandy Hook and Columbine - seared into our national consciousness - changed all that.

The county District Attorney's Office has worked with schools in their annual Safe Schools Summit on how to react to these situations.

Chichester officials used those protocols yesterday.

To be honest, I was hoping we would hear from someone from the district talking about how angry - and no doubt frustrated - they are in dealing with these kinds of hoax threats.

We were unable to connect with Chichester officials.

Superintendent Dr. Kathy Sherman did post the following message on the district's Facebook page:

"I want to thank the entire Chichester staff, the police and fire departments, and township officials for working together to ensure the safety of our students," Sherman wrote.

The offer still stands. If Dr. Sherman wants to talk about how difficult this kind of decision is, and how this is the world school officials now live in, and the issues they wrestle with every day, we'd be all ears.

If not an interview, maybe a guest column.

I for one am not going to blame the district for anything they did yesterday.

Like I said, the time when these situations could be passed off as some kind of harmless gag are over.

Consider, for just a millisecond, what the reaction would be if a threat was received and officials did not act, only to have the worst occur.

I don't envy them - and the decisions they have to make - for a minute.

I hope they feel the same way about the decision we made as well.

Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona

I've been in Arizona twice in my life.

Yes, I have peered into the Grand Canyon. It is as advertised, just breathtaking. I was amazed that every time a cloud went across the sun, the massive rock formations on the canyon walls seemed to look different. I could have stood there and stared at that scene for hours.

I also cherish two visits to what certainly has to be one of the most beautiful, idyllic cities in the United States. Sedona, with its massive red rock formations, is a gem.

Saguaro National Park, with its trademark large cactus plants, lived up to its reputation.

But there is one thing I always wanted to do that I was not able to do on those two visits.

I wanted to stand on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.

Yes, I am a big fan of the Eagles. The band, not the football team.

The day after the music world was stunned once again by the loss of a true superstar, Glenn Frey, the co-founder of the iconic band that put their imprint on the rock-country blend of Southern California pop, a lot of people decided to honor his memory in a most appropriate way.

They gathered on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.

If you don't get the reference, you're clearly not a music fan.

Frey penned the words in the Eagles' classic, 'Take it Easy.'

Well, I'm standing on a corner

in Winslow, Arizona,

such a fine sight to see.

It's a girl, my Lord,

in a flat-bed Ford,

slowing down to take a look at me.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard that song. And yes, every time I hear it, I sing along to that lyric.

I was not in Winslow, Arizona, yesterday. At least physically.

But I certainly was in my mind.

Take It Easy, Glenn.

Day One of the Doug Pederson Era

These are the two things I too out of yesterday's press conference at which Doug Pederson was introduced as the 23rd head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Pederson made one thing perfectly clear: He's not Andy Reid.

That's a good thing.

But he also said he was calling the plays in the second half of that Chiefs' debacle in the 4th quarter of their loss vs. the Patriots as they squandered five minutes driving the length of the field.

That one had Andy Reid stamped all over it. Let's hope Pederson left that in Kansas City. We've seen it here once. We don't need to experience it again.

Overall, I'd give Pederson decent marks for his debut. He went out of his way to embrace the passion of the city. "I get it," he said. He should. He heard lots of it when he started nine games at quarterback for Andy Reid in Donovan McNabb's first season. It wasn't pretty.

"I understand the culture and the passion of Philadelphia," Pederson added. That on its own puts him in a better position than departed head coach Chip Kelly, who once tried to downplay a Cowboys game as just another game on the schedule.

Oddly enough, the other important thing to come out of yesterday's press event has more to do with owner Jeff Lurie than his new head coach.

The boss announced the team would be hiring a person to run personnel. But he left open just who would report to whom and whether or not that means Howie Roseman is control of things down at the NovaCare Center. For his part, Roseman talked for the first time since he was deposed when Lurie granted Kelly control over personnel 13 months ago.

Lurie dodged several attempts to clarify the Birds' front office situation, saying he didn't want to divulge any more information while the hunt for a new personnel guru is still in progress.

But he promised that he would once that process is complete.

We'll see about that.

For now, Pederson looked more than ready to fulfill what he sees as the No. 1 requirement of an NFL coach. "You've got to be comfortable in your own skin," he said.

That would be Doug Pederson's, not Andy Reid's.

Now all he has to do is win.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Red Rocks memory of Glenn Frey

This is starting to get weird.

The music business has lost another superstar.

Glenn Frey, co-founder of the iconic rock band the Eagles, kinds of the Southern California sound, died Monday at 67. It comes a week after we lost David Bowie. A few weeks before that it was Natalie Cole.

It is a reminder that we are getting older.

I cruised past the 60 threshold a few months ago. I'm still dealing with it. Why does it sound so much damn older than 59? Music keeps me young. Losing the people who provided the soundtrack of my youth does not ease the aging process. It does, however, provide some superb memories.

Bowie at the Tower.

My Eagles moment comes from the mid-'70s. I saw them at the Spectrum in 1975. Dan Fogelberg opened the show. Frey and the Eagles apparently were big Flyers fans. This was at the height of Flyers Frenzy during their back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. For their encore, the entire band came out wearing orange Flyers jerseys and roof nearly blew off the Spectrum - for the second time.

But it was my second go-round with that tour that will always stick in my memory.

* A Top 10 Playlist of Glenn Frey & the Eagles songs.

I was in the process of moving out to Colorado, where I would actually take a year off from college to become a state resident. It was the only way I could afford tuition at one of the truly special places on this Earth, the University of Colorado at Boulder.

It's not the only special place in the Rockies.

For any true music fan, there is a place you simply have to see - and hear - to believe.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a natural rock formation in the foothills outside Denver. The first time I saw a show there was the summer before, when I helped my older brother drive one of his cars out to Denver after a job relocation.

On the radio, everyone was talking about John Denver at Red Rocks. Don't laugh. He was great.

The sound at Red Rocks is pristine. And the setting. Well, let's just say it's like nothing you've ever experienced.

The stage is surrounded by massive natural rock formations, thus the setting's name. The bench seating then rises back and up into the foothills from there.

If you sit high enough up in the amphitheater, you can actually see the band on the stage, and in the background the twinkling lights of the Denver skyline in the background. It's the damndest thing I've ever seen. I've always wanted to know why the lights twinkle at night out there. I've been told it has something to do with the altitude - you're more than a mile above sea level - but take my word for it. It makes for a stunning concert venue.

The Eagles were perfect for the setting. As was Fogelberg. I was wondering how they would possibly top the show I saw in Philly. It wasn't even close.

Take my word for it. Put it on your "to-do" list. A concert at Red Rocks is a must for any music fan.

"Take it easy," Glenn.

We'll always have Red Rocks.

All weather, all the time

I hate winter.

I hate cold weather.

I hate snow.

This is not going to be a good week.

There will not be any news this week. There will only be snow. Or the chance of snow. And preparing for snow. I'm not a meteorologist. I don't even play one on TV.

But it certainly seems like we're in the crosshairs of some kind of winter weather event late Friday into Saturday. Armageddon? Probably not. But it is giving every appearance of a plowable snow event.

That will not stop TV stations from going into weather nirvana. They already were breaking out the "preparing for the storm" stories last night. One crew showed up at the Home Depot up on Baltimore Pike and confirmed they still has shovels in stock. You just have to love TV.

I don't care about the European model. I usually look out the window or stick my head out the front door. That's about all I need to know. It's cold out. Very cold. I'm as guilty as the next. I had a reporter do a story yesterday on the possibility of snow arriving for the weekend. I know I should not complain. Aside from that dusting Sunday, we have had nary a flake to concern ourselves this winter.

And even I can admit Sunday's landscape was actually a nice diversion. The drab mud and gray of winter was transformed into a glistening frosty white canvas. When the sun broke out late in the afternoon, it was actually quite beautiful.

Then I walked outside Monday morning and encountered the kind of cold that reminds me that when I retire I really only want one thing: I don't ever want to be cold again.

In the meantime, you've been warned. It's going to be a long week. Here's what our pals at AccuWeather are saying. Over at the National Weather Service, they seem to be leaning toward snow arriving earlier in the day on Friday and continuing through Saturday. Swell.

Welcome to the Doug Pederson Era

Here's what I know on Day One of the Doug Pederson Era.

The new head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles has won exactly as many Super Bowls as any other head coach in the team's history.

That, of course, would be zero.

Isn't that the bottom line. The Eagles have had good teams, mediocre teams an entirely too many lousy teams. They have won playoff games, NFC East titles, even several NFC crowns. But they have never won a Super Bowl. The "Gold Standard" constantly preached by owner Jeff Lurie has been more pewter than anything else.

I know Pederson was a journeyman quarterback who played nine lousy games as Andy Reid waited to put a rookie named Donovan McNabb in control of the Eagles' offense.

I don't hold that again Pederson now. I don't think his talent as a QB has much of anything to do with what kind of coach he will be. I do know that very often mediocre players make better coaches that great players. The naturally talented athlete usually has difficulty teaching lesser athletes. They don't think about what they do, they simply react.

What I would like to know, and something I doubt we will find out when Pederson and Eagles owner Jeff Lurie meet the media t 2 this afternoon, is more about the process that the Eagles used to zero in on Pederson.

I find it hard to believe he was their first pick. But to hear former longtime Eagles QB and ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski gush about Pederson, you get the feeling he was their guy all along.

The Eagles did talk to Adam Gase, but he signed with the Dolphins. They were interested in Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, but he stuck with the G-Men. Even Hue Jackson signed with the Browns. Are you telling me that job was more appealing than being Chip Kelly's successor.

I'm willing to give Pederson a chance.

I still have questions about who is doing what in the Eagles' front office.

I'm not sure I like the idea of Howie Roseman, who was so unceremoniously deposed in Chip Kelly's power grab, being back in control. But it looks like Pederson is going to surround himself with some experienced coaches. Jim Schwartz, the former Lions' head coach and a guy whose defenses were always near the top of the rankings, looks like he is in line to become defensive coordinator.

One name I have not heard that much about is Pat Shurmur. Frank Reich seems to have the inside line on offensive coordinator. Maybe Pederson will ask Shurmur to stay on as quarterbacks coach.

Shurmur could be the key to keeping Sam Bradford, and to be honest, right now that is the Birds' most important task. They need Bradford. Without him, they are admitting they are going back to square one in what would be a long-term rebuilding plan.

Even given all that, I'm willing to give Doug Pederson a shot.

Of course, he starts off 0-3, I reserve the right to rethink that position.

Welcome back to Philly, Doug.

Monday, January 18, 2016

An instant replay from Andy Reid

Let's hope Doug Pederson didn't learn his time management habits from Andy Reid.

Reid's Kansas City Chiefs fell to the New England Patriots in an AFC Divisional Playoff game Saturday that must have seemed like deja vu to Eagles fans.

Sixteen years after Big Red's Eagles seemed to take an eternity to drive the length of the field against the Pats in the Super Bowl, the Chiefs offered a carbon copy of clock mismanagement.

It's almost beyond belief that this could happen to Reid again. To the Patriots. And Bill Belichick, who famously wondered back in that Super Bowl if he was reading the score right as he watched Reid's Eagles methodically plod down the field, scoring but in the process using way too much time.

Then there was Reid's Chiefs on Saturday, again down by two scores, and again doing their best tortoise act, slowly but surely making their way down the field. Philly fans have seen this act before. And this time Donovan McNabb won't get any of the blame. This time it was Alex Smith directing Reid's offense. Again the Chiefs failed to punch the ball in before the two-minute warning, and again they ran the clock out on themselves.

After the game, Reid didn't seem to grasp what had just happened, and the comparison to what that Eagles team did in the Super Bowl all those years ago.

His team was down by two touchdowns, yet the Chiefs managed to burn more than five minutes off the clock as they moved the length of the field to get within one score of the Patriots. That would include a run that lost a yard just before the clock ticked down to the two-minute warning.

"We wanted to get a play off right there," Reid explained after the game. "It was 2:20 on the clock. We wanted to make sure that we got our best personnel in for that play and we didn't get that done."

When the Chiefs finally cashed in for a TD, there was only 1:13 left in the game. The onside kick failed, and the Patriots were able to run out the clock.

Game, set and match.

Of course, it didn't help that in the first half the Chiefs consistently drove the ball into Patriots' territory, but came away with just a couple of field goals.

This week Pederson, Reid's offensive coordinator, is expected to be introduced as the Eagles' new head coach.

Let's just hope he leaves that style of clock management in Kansas City.

We've seen that act before.

A couple of final salutes: Bowie, Rickman & The Boss

It was a lousy week for icons.

We lost David Bowie. And Alan Rickman.

Bowie was one of my early rock idols. Yes, I loved his music. But something else he did also appealed to me. His bizarre antics and androgynous looks drove our parents crazy.

But he was even more important to my wife.

I took a couple of blog items from last week and weaved them into my Monday print column, a salute to the Man Who Fell to Earth.

And that includes a special bonus item from the best writer in the family. Hint: It's not me.

I guess I am going to show my age again.

I was a bit taken aback when news arrived of the death of Rickman. Everyone started talking about Harry Potter?

As usual, I was on the outside looking in. I was never a Harry Potter fan. I've read any of the books that my kids devoured.

To me, Alan Rickman will always be Hans Gruber, the superb villain from Bruce Willis' original "Die Hard" movie.

In the meantime, one of my other rock idols, Bruce Springsteen, kicked off his 'River' in Pittsburgh over the weekend. The Boss talked about how Bowie was influential on his music, and how he once took a bus to Philly to see him when he was recording his 'Young Americans' album at Sigma Sounds Studios.

The Bruce did the kind of thing that makes him Bruce, that resonates with fans, and shows you he gets it, he understands the connection between fans the those folks on the stage.

He paid homage to Bowie in the best way possible.

Here it is:

Your early-morning report on road conditions

Here's an early-morning roads report after our first brush with Mother Nature this winter.

Yes, we got a dusting of snow yesterday afternoon.

Yes, TV types will immediately start hyperventilating over the idea of winter weather.

Yes, there are all kinds of warnings about possible icy conditions on the roads for the morning commute.

No, I did not really encounter any of them.

The biggest problem you'll have is scraping the icy coating off your car. The door also will be a bit creaky from the icy that coats it, but the roads were not in bad shape.

The bad news? It is very cold out there today, with winds howling. And it's apparently going to stay that way much of the day today.

Even me, a devout winter hater, have to admit yesterday was kind of pretty. It was the only kind of winter storm I can stomach. A light covering of snow dusted the landscape, covering the usual dank, colorless drab of winter with a light, white blanket. Best of all, the roads basically were just a little wet.

Now the bad news. The forecast calls for a possible real winter storm for the end of the week, maybe on Friday into Saturday. Brace yourself, it's likely the only thing we'll hear about all this week.

Here's your complete forecast.

Friday, January 15, 2016

'Lone Wolf:' The new terrorism

Sen. Pat Toomey believes Edward Archer, the Yeadon man who police say shot Philadelphia police Officer Jesse Hartnett in a chilling ambush style attack, had been "radicalized."

What isn't known is by whom or what.

Sen. Bob Casey believes Archer is emblematic of a new front on the terrorism watch, the "Lone Wolf."

Both Pennsylvania's U.S. senators were in town yesterday to talk about the police shooting, and Archer's statement to police that he shot the officer in the name of Islam.

And they were here one day after FBI boss James Comey, in a stop in Pittsburgh, said his investigators were handling the incident as a terrorist attack.

What seems to be getting murky in all this is just what is considered a "terrorist attack," and its relation to "terrorism."

Comey also was in Philly yesterday, and stressed that the FBI had discovered nothing to indicate that Archer was part of any organized cell or had ties to others who still posed a threat to police, as had been alleged by a tipster.

But he did say the matter continues to be investigated as a terrorist attack.

What's interesting is how the community is reacting to these developments.

Last night state Sen. Anthony Williams, D-8, held a community meeting just a block from the shooting scene in West Philadelphia. You can read about that here.

Maybe even more important are several other reactions in the wake of the shooting.

We talk about that on our editorial page.

Don't expect this debate to be defused any time soon.

I lean toward what Casey was saying about a "Lone Wolf." I don't know if Archer was moved or radicalized, or if he was just a troubled man looking to glom onto a cause.

For some reason, that does not make what happened any less scary.

And I challenge anyone to watch the video of Archer approaching Hartnett's police cruiser to feel anything other than a chilling vision of the challenge facing America.

Reid it & weep: Looks like Doug Pederson is Lurie's choice

Doug Pederson? Really?

Anyone else get the idea that maybe in his zeal to show Chip Kelly the door, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie had not completetly thought all this through?

Or maybe this was the idea all along, that Lurie in fact actually wanted Pederson, the guy who served as Andy Reid's stand-in at quarterback for nine games in Donovan McNabb's rookie year before handing the team over to the Syracuse product.

Pederson was back in Philly a decade later, joining Reid's staff as quarterbacks coach. He followed Big Red to Kansas City, where he has served as offensive coordinator.

It now appears almost a certainty that Pederson is headed back to Philly, this time as head coach.

Yesterday the team said they had completed their interview process and no other interviews would be held. But they were not yet ready to make a formal announcement. That certainly would point to Pederson getting the job. The Eagles can't formally roll him out until the Chiefs are done in the playoffs. They play New England this weekend.

All of this comes after a wild day that saw Tom Coughlin pull his name out of the running for the Eagles job, and fired coach Chip Kelly land on his feet as the new boss of the San Francisco 49ers.

Raise your hand if you predicted Kelly would land a new gig before Jeff Lurie replaced him.

Lurie and Roseman are going to feel plenty of heat over this choice, and their interview process in general.

One of the first names mentioned after Kelly was jettisoned was Sean McDermott, the defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers. McDermott is a local guy who probably got a raw deal when he tried to fill the shoes of the Birds' beloved defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. But Lurie and Roseman apparently never reached out to him.

They did sit down with a couple of hot coordinators, Adam Gase, who ran the Bears' offense and is believed responsible for reviving Kay Cutler's career, and Ben McAdoo, the guy behind the Giants' offense and Eli Manning's resurgence. They also talked to a couple of guys in-house, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who many believe could be the key to keeping quarterback Sam Bradford, and running backs coach Duce Staley.

There is a huge figure whose shadow is cast all over this development. That would belong to the man who coached the Eagles for 14 years. Andy Reid is believed to have reached out to his old pal Lurie and rave about Pederson. Jack McCaffery talks about that here. Jeff Lurie made it clear when he dumped Kelly with a game left in the season that he wanted to take back his team.

He didn't mention he wanted to return to the Andy Reid Era.

It's unfair to rip Pederson because he was a fairly mediocre quarterback for the Eagles. He'll be judged by what he does as a coach. But he should be forewarned. It's not likely fans are going to put out the Welcome Wagon.

Welcome to the Doug Pederson Era.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

FBI now calling the shooting of Officer Jesse Hartnett a terrorist act

There are several developments this morning concerning the ambush shooting of Philadelphia Officer Jesse Hartnett by a Yeadon man who told police he did it in the name of Islam and that he had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

FBI Director James B. Comey was in Pittsburgh yesterday and announced that federal investigators are now classifying the shooting as a terrorist act.

It's the first time since the shooting last week that authorities have classified the actions as being linked to terror. You can get the details here.

Both the shooter and his victim have close ties to Delco.

Officer Hartnett is an East Lansdowne native, where he once served on the force before joining the Philly force. He's a 2001 graduate of Monsignor Bonner High School. Archer lived in Yeadon.

Meanwhile, on our editorial page, we reminded readers of something that too often gets overlooked in the heated rhetoric about what might have inspired Archer to do what he did, if others were involved, and if this was some kind of conspiracy.

Hartnett suffered serious injuries after taking three bullets in his arm. He remains hospitalized. Despite being shot three times at point-blank range, he still managed to get out of his cruiser, pursue the suspect and return fire. Archer was wounded in the buttocks and taken into custody.

The attack on a police officer - and in particular the chilling surveillance video that captured the incident, showing Archer walk toward the car and opening fire, eventually leaning into the car window - provides ample evidence of the dangers that lurk on our streets every day.

It's something ever police officer - and his family - knows all too well. They mean it when they say they never know when they leave the house if they will return.

Comey is due in Philadelphia to offer an update on the investigation this morning. Both Pennsylvania U.S. Senators, Democrat Bob Casey and Republican Pat Toomey, are expected to speak after the briefing.

In the meantime, Hartnett's alma mater will honor him during their daily Mass at the Drexel Hill school. We'll be at Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast High School to bring you all the details, as well as updates from the FBI briefing in Philly.

You didn't hit the $1.6B Powerball jackpot

You didn't win.

Go back to work. Or better yet, maybe just pull the covers up over your head and take a sick day, no doubt like many of us nursing the hangover from Powerball mania.

That is what a $1.6 billion dollar jackpot will do to you.

But I hope you didn't put the mortgage into lottery tickets.

There were three winning tickets sold, but none in the Philly area.

Winning ducats were sold in Chino Hills, Calif., just outside Los Angeles, where a Huge party broke out at the 7-Eleven that apparently sold the winning ticket, as well as in Florida and Tennessee.

You can get all the details on the winners here.

In the meantime, for the rest of us, it's Thursday.

Two more days until the weekend.

One consolation? It's believed that a couple of million dollar winning tickets were sold in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Better double-check those numbers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

All eyes on Marple tonight for Cardinal Crossing hearing

First it was Middletown.

Call it the Battle of Franklin Mint. Residents were less than thrilled about the prospect of a massive development on the site of the longtime mint property that stretches along Baltimore Pike. They railed against what they mocked as 'The City.'

Then the same thing popped up in Concord, where residents were enraged at the prospect of losing one of the last open tracts in their township. Call it the Battle of Concord. All that was missing was Lexington. The tract in question, known as the Beaver Valley, was a pristine, idyllic tract in what is one of the fastest-growing areas in the region. Spend any time trying to maneuver along Route 202 or Baltimore Pike out in those parts on a Saturday and you'll see why people were so upset at the prospect of losing any more open space.

Now it's Marple Township, and the Battle of Cardinal Crossing.

That is the name affixed to another sprawling development planned for the former site of the Don Guanella School on Sproul Road.

And yes, a lot of residents are upset at the notion of still one more development eating up open space in their neighborhood. They have organized themselves into a coalition called Save Marple Greenspace. They are pushing their concerns online. Developer Bruce Goodman's plan for the 213-acre tract calls for 696,650 square feet of retail space, 100,000 square feet of office space, an 80,000-square foot recreational facility, 65,000-square foot hotel, 50,000-square foot movie theater and 5,585-square foot convenience store/gas station.

Tonight Marple planners will once again take up the proposal. They are not expected to vote, but they will take more comments.

There will not be any shortage of those.

A couple of hundred people turned out for the last meeting.

Another huge crowd will be on hand tonight. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Marple Newtown High School. We'll be there.

A jarring start to the day

I use my daily commute to the office as a form of therapy.

In the morning, I am soothed by the routine. I flip back and forth between Big Daddy Graham on SportsRadio and my constant companion.

The world is tranquil at that hour. As I drive along in the morning darkness, before most of the world has started to stir, I brace myself for what lies ahead.

I was almost at the office Tuesday morning, when my sea of tranquility was shattered.

No, I didn't hit a deer.

But as I drove down Oak Avenue toward the railroad tracks in Primos, I saw a familiar - but unexpected sight. Flashing red lights. Lots of them.

They were congregated in the parking lot of the Giant supermarket. So were a lot of people.

Jarred from my reverie, I hustled into the office and of course jumped on Twitter to see what was up.

Turns out there was a fire at the store. I tweeted out the news and posted a brief on our website. It's called Breaking News.

It wasn't a big deal. A smoky little fire that was confined to one aisle.

However, the store was closed. By late afternoon, it had yet to open, so I had a reporter make some calls on when they might be open again. It's a busy spot and affects a lot of people in the area, both those who work there as well as shoppers.

As it turns out, police now believe the fire was set and they have made an arrest.

You can read about it here. The store reopened for business yesterday at 4 p.m.

The perils of the office Powerball pool

Yes, I have purchased a Powerball ticket. Well, actually I haven't. I'm in an office pool.

I don't expect to win. I normally don't play the lottery.

But here's the thing. I am in an office pool. Every time the jackpot zooms into the stratosphere, a co-worker collects money and buys the tickets. The Powerball jackpot, worth a cool $1.5 billion the last time I looked, has been rolling over for a few weeks now.

There is a fear factor here. Could I simply say 'no thanks.' Sure. Yes, I could plop that money into my 401-k and watch the market fritter it away.

But it is a roll of the dice that is pretty hard to deny.

Does anyone want to take the risk of the office pool actually hitting. How would you feel seeing your co-workers entering Nirvana knowing you were that close to being a millionaire.

It's a risk I'm not willing to take. So count me in. So long as the jackpot stays in this rarified atmosphere, I'll be forking money over to the office pool.

So who is going to put the paper out when we hit tonight?

To learn about how Delco is dealing with Powerball mania, check out today's story here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Jan. 12

The Daily Numbers: 69, age of rock legend David Bowie, who died yesterday at age 69.

18 months, how long he had been battling cancer.

10,000 reward posted for information on 1st homicide of the year in Chester.

5,000 dollars put up by the city; another $5,000 put up by the county District Attorney’s Office.

42, age of man found shot to death in a car in the city over the weekend.

2 homicides already in Delaware County.

5 hospital operated by Crozer-Keystone Health Systems that will all remain open under a deal in which they will partner with Prospect Medical Holdings.

17, age of teen charged as an adult in nasty home invasion in which police say he terrorized an elderly Nether Providence couple.

25,000 dollars now in the GoFundMe page for wounded Philly Officer Jesse Hartnett, a Delco native.

300 people packed the reorganization meeting of Upper Darby Township.

3, age of little Brendan Creato, whose body was found in a park near his South Jersey home last fall. His father, who had reported the boy missing, yesterday was charged with 1st degree murder in his death.

33, age of Chester County pastor now being sought for sexually abusing a teen girl who lived with his family.

52 point gain for the Dow yesterday.

45-40 win for Alabama over Clemson to win the national collegiate football title.

3 game suspension for the Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict to start next season as a result of his actions in late stage of playoff loss vs. Steelers.

4, number of Sixers great Dolph Schayes, which will be retired.

4, number worn by Nerlens Noel. He will continue to wear it. Then no one else will.

69, age of ex-Giants boss Tom Coughlin, who interviewed for the Eagles head coaching job yesterday.

6 candidates who have been interviewed by the Birds so far.

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

Looks like this Eagles coaching hunt is going to take awhile. What do you think comes first. The Sixers hit the 5-win mark, or the Birds have a new boss?

I Don’t Get It
: A teen is charged with terrorizing an elderly couple during a home invasion. He was caught when he set up a meeting with the same couple for the next day. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper
: Kudos to the city of Chester and Delco D.A.’s office for teaming for a $10,000 reward in the city’s 1st homicide of 2016.

Quote Box: “We’re serious when it comes to bringing criminals to justice, even if it means putting a price on their head.”

- New Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland.

David Bowie's legacy: Much more than music

"Planet Earth is blue."

Well, I know the Heron house was yesterday.

David Bowie is gone.

The Man Who Fell to Earth is back in the heavens. The Thin White Duke has gone silent.

I have this annoying habit. The very first thing I do every morning after my feet hit the floor - even before making coffee - is grab my longtime early morning companion. Not my wife. My old portable transistor radio. It is always tuned to KYW Newsradio 1060-AM. As I head down the steps toward the coffee maker, I flip it on to see what has transpired before I slid into my normal coma the night before.

Yesterday I was stopped dead in my tracks. That's how I learned of Bowie's passing.

And that's when I knew there was something else I had to do. I had to tell my wife.

Mrs. Heron was a huge fan of David Bowie. Still is.

That was not so easily done in the early '70s, when she was barely entering her teens.

It did not make her especially popular in her Catholic high school, when so many of the 'in' crowd wondered what she saw in this 'weird' pop star.

What she saw was genius. And something else she has carried with her through life.

Bowie brought to the forefront lifestyles that certainly were not part and parcel of the American dream up to that point.

Everything about his androgynous hero Ziggy Stardust questioned the way society dealt with sex and gender, to say nothing of music genres.

Oddly enough (maybe a Space Oddity?) my wife and I had similar tastes in music, but only later would we realize we had likely been at many of the same concerts.

That includes her hero Bowie.

She would seek out her grandfather to take her at all hours of the day and night, first to score tickets, then to deliver them to the shows. He did not pretend to understand the music, but he dearly loved the kids.

I see lots of Bowie in my wife, especially when it comes to relating to other people, in particular people whose lifestyle may not necessarily jibe with society's vision of the idyllic life.

She passed those traits along to our children, maybe the best thing she has ever done.

How do I know this?

I'm supposed to be the writer in this family.

But upon learning of Bowie's death, our daughter posted this message on Facebook. It is exquisite.

She is her mother's daughter.

"While Ziggy Stardust, Major Tom, the Thin White Duke, the Man Who Sold The World, Aladdin Sane, and so many other voices are deathless, it's deeply sad that we've lost the man who gave soul to all of them.

"Bowie was so many things, but perhaps the plainest (and most moving to me) was that he was a creator of compassion. His personae were often tragic, outré, vice-ridden, or all three. By inhabiting all of them so well and baring their hearts through such stellar music, he brought us all to a deeper place of empathy, beyond the borders of what struck us as comfortable, familiar, or even earthly.

"I am grateful that he fell to Earth and so sorry to see him go."

RIP, Thin White Duke.

Yes, you left a huge legacy after falling to terra firma.

New tack in war on crime in Chester

They are taking a new tack to fight an old problem in Chester.

The city recorded its first homicide of 2016 over the weekend. That's actually an improvement from 2015, when the new year was barely a few hours old when two lives were lost on Chester's streets.

New Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland and Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan held a press conference Monday to detail a new reward program in hopes of leading to the killer of David Alston.

The city is putting up $5,000, as is the D.A.'s office.

You can get all the details here.

There were 34 homicides in Delaware County in 2015. Of those, 24 of them took place in the city.

The partnership between the city and county is believed to be a first. But Whelan believes there is one more entity that needs to join this crime-fighting team. That would be the public.

"We believe that people know who the murderer is," Whelan said. "It's time that the police, the D.A.'s office and the residents in the city of Chester work together to make our community safer so that we can address this crime."

Clearly, Kirkland has placed attacking the city's violence and crime problem at the top of his new administration's agenda.

"We're serious when it comes to bringing criminals to justice, even if it means putting a price on their head," Kirkland said.

It will interesting to see if the public joins the effort.

Right now they have 10,000 new reasons to get involved.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Jan. 11

The Daily Numbers: 69, age or rock music icon David Bowie, who died last night.

‘74, when Bowie recorded several live concerts at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby. 1.3 billion dollar Powerball jackpot now up for grabs Wednesday night in the Powerball drawing.

1st homicide of 2016 recorded in Delaware County.

3 gunshot wounds to the arm suffered by Philly cop Jesse Hartnett, a Delaware County native.

2001 graduate of Monsignor Bonner.

30, age of Edward Archer, the suspect in the shooting, who is from Yeadon.

2 trips to the Middle East taken by Archer that are now being investigated by the FBI.

1 person charged after trying to take the gun from an officer who was standing guard outside the hospital where Hartnett is recovering last night.

200 million dollars being invested in Crozer-Keystone Health Systems over the next 5 years by new partner Prospect Medical Holdings.

200 people who packed the Towne House in Media Saturday for the chance to bid on some of the iconic eatery’s memorabilia.

33.6 million dollars headed to Delco from the state as part of emergency funding OK’d by Gov. Tom Wolf.

3.29 mill tax hike coming in Haverford School District.

838 dollar average tax bill likely to remain the same in Springfield.

2 more interviews for Eagles head coaches. Doug Pederson yesterday, Tom Coughlin today.

95-85 loss for the Sixers to the Cavs last night.

37 points, 9 assists, 76 rebounds for LeBron James.

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

I didn’t see a single team over the weekend that struck me as all that better than the Eagles. Only makes this season that much more frustrating. And does anyone else wonder what the reaction would be if that kind of fan behavior we witnessed in Cincinnati had occurred in Philly?

I Don’t Get It: Vontaze Burfict probably cost the Bengals the game, along with Pacman Jones. And it might have cost his coach his job. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to ‘David Live,’ the live album by David Bowie that put the Tower Theater in Upper Darby on the international music map.

Quote Box: “We’ve never been at these levels.”

- Texas Lottery official on the $1.3 billion Powerball jackpot.

Rebel, Rebel: Remembering David Bowie

I was always a soul guy.

I loved Motown. And the Sound of Philadelphia.

Give me the Temps, the Four Tops, and, of course, Teddy.

I came to rock a little later than most of my friends. So naturally I has a soft spot in my heart for 'blue-eyed' soul. I still love the Righteous Brothers. Hall & Oates remain my local heroes.

Eventually I slid over to rock. I never really lost my love of soul and dance music, but rock took over my life.

Then I found a way to combine the two.

I heard the voice of David Bowie. Luckily, I heard him before I saw him. Bowie, the original androgynous, gender-bender glam rocker, had a voice straight out of the Sound of Philly.

I fell hard for Ziggy Stardust, Bowie's iconic pop icon, along with the Spiders From Mars. Part of it no doubt was rebellion. Bowie's stage act, the red Mohawk, the wild outfits

Bowie not only provided great music, he did something else every kid back then wanted to do. He drove our parents crazy.

Yes, Bowie looked like nothing that had ever appeared on stage before.

The difference is that Bowie's look never overshadowed his voice, or the music.

It turns out Bowie had an affinity for soul sounds as well. After Ziggy, Bowie did what he always did. He changed. And adapted.

That is what brought him to Philadelphia's legendary Sigma Sound Studios, to record his 'Young Americans' LP.

As part of that experiment, Bowie recorded several live shows at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby. 'David Live' remains a standard for live recordings, and of course added to Delco's rock lineage.

Raise your hand if you think you've heard your voice screaming in the background at one of those show. Yeah, I know the feeling.

My wife, too. She was at those shows. She's an even bigger Bowie fan than her husband. And yes, we realized after we started dating that we had many of the same albums and had been to many of the same concerts.

But Bowie was special. Those Tower shows made him one of us. He was Philly. And we loved him for it.

The key to Bowie was ability to change. Maybe that's why so many referred to him as a chameleon.

One thing did not change. The music. And that voice.

From teaming with Bing Crosby on the Christmas classic 'Little Drummer Boy,' to 'Heroes,' you only needed one note to know that was David Bowie.

Now the voice is silent. Bowie died last night at 69, just a few days after his birthday and the release of his newest album, 'Blackstar.'

I'll always be a Bowie fan.

Sure, I loved Ziggy. I enjoyed the notion of being a 'Rebel, Rebel.' And yes, I got a kick out of the reaction of my mom and dad to the album covers.

But most of all it was the music.

Thanks for the ride, Ziggy.

A look back at 2015 homicides, and the 1st of 2016

Last week we took a look at the faces behind the numbers, the 34 people who were victims of homicide in 2015.

Today I used my print column to talk about why we did it. At the same time, we noted the county had recorded its first homicide of 2016.

Yes, it took place in Chester, where the majority of 2015's homicides also took place.

This morning new Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland will do something so many of his predecessors have done. Kirkland will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. to talk about the city's first homicide of 2016 and also a reward being offered in the case.

We'll be there for the details.

A few thoughts on the NFL playoffs

A couple of random thoughts after Week One of the NFL Post-Season and while we wait for the Eagles coaching carousel to stop:

* The Cincinnati Bengals are out of control. I've seen a lot of things in a lifetime of watching football. But I'm not sure I've ever seen anything quite like the way the Bengals became unhinged at the end of that game Saturday night, blowing the game and possibly cost head coach Marvin Lewis his job. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict, no stranger this kind of act, had been having a great game, capped by what appeared to be a game-clinching interception late in this bitterly contested game vs. the arch-rival Steelers.

Unfortunately, Burfict was not done. Neither was Adam 'Pacman' Jones. Both seem to come unhinged, committing personal fouls that, coupled with a crucial fumble that gave the Steelers one more shot, led to a game-winning field goal.

It was a meltdown for the ages. And there was nothing pretty about it.

Burfict blatantly went head-hunting and was slapped with a penalty. Jones then blew a gasket protesting the call and getting involved with a Steelers coach.

* The raw emotions weren't limited to the field. Cincinnati fans did not exactly do themselves proud, tossing things on the field and showering Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger with water bottles and other junk as he rode a car to the locker room after injuring a shoulder. Can you imagine what the reaction would be from the national media if that had occurred in Philadelphia?

* Finally, I was not impressed with the level of play I saw this weekend. Even more important, I did not see a team out there that I think the Eagles couldn't beat. Which only makes this wasted season only that more outrageous.

The Redskins got exposed in the second half by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Anyone think the Eagles couldn't have given them at least that much trouble.

Bring on baseball season.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Jan. 8

The Daily Numbers: 13 gunshots fired at Philly police officer at point-blank range.

3 bullets that struck Officer Jesse Hartnett, 33.

30, age of suspect from Yeadon, who also was wounded when officer returned fire.

2 people, a mother and child, killed in early-morning house fire in Philly.

49, age of Marcus Hook man who faces long list of charges after police say he tried to strangle his girlfriend. They say they found drugs and a gun in his home.

25,000 dollars donated to the Philabundance Fair And Share store in Chester by the Philadelphia Union soccer club in an attempt to push healthy nutrition in the city.

60, age of child sex suspect who took a swipe at a reporter’s camera after he waived his preliminary hearing in Radnor. 30 inches of snow that buried the region 20 years ago.

3.9 percent tax hike on tap in proposed Wallingford-Swarthmore School District budget.

30 foot leap by man after he fled fatal wrong-way crash in Philly. He died from the fall.

25 to 50 years in prison, sentence that will be sought today for 2 contractors convicted in fatal demolition collapse in Philly.

4-3 overtime win for Flyers vs. Minnesota Wild last night.

2 goals for Michael Del Zotto.

126-98 blowout loss for the Sixers to Atlanta last night.

35 point lead for the Hawks at one point.

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

My guy’s name just popped up in the talks about the new Eagles coach. Jon Gruden says he’s not interested, despite some reports that he is.

I Don’t Get It: A Yeadon man is believed to be responsible for an assassination attempt against a Philadelphia police officer last night in West Philly. New Philly police boss Richard Ross putt it pretty simply: “He tried to execute him.” I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Philadelphia Union for putting up $25,000 for Philabundance in the push to create healthy nutrition alternatives in Chester.

Quote Box: “It’s just an absolute ambush ... He tried to execute him.”

- Richard Ross, new Philly police commissioner, on ambush that wounded officer.

GOP backs Tom Killion for 9th District state Senate seat

That didn't take long.

The GOP has the man they hope will succeed state Sen. Dominic Pileggi - and keep the seat on Republican hands.

State Rep. Tom Killion, R-168, of Middletown, got the nod at GOP confab in Concordville Thursday night.

Killion had made no secret of his desire to seek the seat and he will be the endorsed Republican in the special election to succeed Pileggi, who resigned his seat after winning a spot as a Delaware County judge. The special election will be held on Primary Day, April 26.

The 9th District, which once was primarily a Delco district, now snakes its way along southern Chester County all the way out to Kenntt Square. The Chester County portion of the district has not always felt as if they've had their voices heard, and some clearly did not believe Pileggi was conservative enough for their taste. It will be interesting to see if any other Republicans look to get on the ballot.

At least one Democrat, former Kennett Square Magisterial District Judge Dan Maisano, a former Republican, has indicated he will run. But Delaware County Democrats have indicated they are not lining up behind Maisano and will have their own endorsed candidate on the ballot.

A split Democratic ballot will not exactly help their chances of capturing the seat.

Of course, a win by Killion would then create still another open seat, the 168th in western Delaware County.

In the meantime, the GOP brass were quick to laud Killion.

“Tom Killion is ready to bring his common-sense approach to governing to the Senate,” said Rob Gleason, chairman of the state Republican Party. “During his time in the state House, Tom Killion has been a vocal supporter of keeping taxes low, protecting our open spaces, and implementing much-needed pension reform. Our party looks forward to working hard to elect Tom Killion and maintain our historic majority in the State Senate.”

Killion first won a seat in the state House in 2003. He has sat on several key House committees, including the House Appropriations Committee, Insurance, Liquor Control and Consumer Affairs Committees. House leaders named Killion chief deputy whip for the 2015-16 legislative session.

Killion also is a former chairman of Delaware County Council, where he served from 1992 to 2000.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Jan. 7

The Daily Numbers: 33 inches of snow that buried the region 20 years ago in the Blizzard of ‘96.

650 million dollars, value of Powerball jackpot Saturday night.

0 winning tickets with all the numbers for last night’s $500 million prize.

54, age of despondent man killed by Upper Darby police in what is being termed a case of ‘Suicide by Cop.’

60, age of Paoli man charged by Radnor cops with sexually abusing a young family member.

65 years, how long the Towne House restaurant sat on Baltimore Pike in Media.

15-year veteran of Darby Borough police force who has won his job back in a court fight after being terminated by the borough.

36.5 years to life in prison for a teen from Darby convicted in the fatal shooting of a 60-year-old man.

2 billion line of credit for Pa. as state budget impasse continues.

252 point decline for the stock market yesterday. Today is not looking any better.

3 brothers convicted in terror plot at Fort Dix looking to have their convictions overturned.

140,000 volunteers expected to take part in MLK Day events in Philly.

2 players, Vinny LeCavalier and Luke Schenn, sent to the L.A. Kings for a draft pick and center Jordan Weal in a deal that has big salary cap implications for the Flyers.

99.3 percent of Hall of Fame voters who backed Ken Griffey Jr.

3 ballots out of 440 votes that did not contain his name.

72-63 win for Villanova over Seton Hall.

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

This is what we’ve been reduced to - cheering a salary cap move by the Flyers. It has to get better from here.

I Don’t Get It: A high school hoops coach has been placed on leave after head-butting a referee. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper:
Kudos to St. John Chrysostom Parish in Nether Providence. They took a national award for program to include those with disabilities.

Quote Box: “These are three outstanding officers who had to do what they had to do.”

- Upper Darby top cop Michael Chitwood, on fatal shooting of man who confronted officers with a knife.