Monday, February 29, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Feb. 29 - Happy Leap Day!

The Daily Numbers: 29, as in Feb. 29. Happy Lead Day!

407 bags of heroin seized in a drug bust in Upper Darby.

2 people, a mom and her son, face charges in the case.

2 cents per ounce tax that was once proposed by Philly Mayor Michael Nutter. It’s now being brought up again by new Mayor Jim Kenney.

64 cents more, how much such a levy would increase the price of a Big Gulp at 7-Eleven.

1 day on job for South Carolina Officer Ashley Guindon, killed in the line of duty.

5 acting nominations for Leonardo DiCaprio before he took the honor last night.

3 year, 7 million contract extension for Flyers Michael Raffl.

8 straight losses for the Sixers.

130-116 blowout loss to the Magic.

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

Hey, at least the Phillies didn’t lose to that college team to open spring training, the way they did last year. Things are looking up already.

I Don’t Get It: Sylvester Stallone won just about every award for best supporting actor - except the big one. He was the big surprised on Academy Award night, with the Oscar going to Mark Rylance in “Bridge of Spies.”

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Lynne Massi, who continues to keep the spotlight on the war on heroin.

Quote Box: “The quicker you take them off the streets, the quicker somebody is there to take their place. Heroin ... It’s the great American tragedy.”

- Upper Darby Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood.

Yo, Sly, what happened?

Sunday afternoon I was joking with my wife - who has a severe distaste for the pomp and pomposity of the Academy Awards - that if Sylvester Stallone won for best supporting actor, I knew what he should say when he took to the stage:

"Yo, Adrian, I did it."

Never mind. Stallone, who just about everyone was saying was one of this year's locks to take home an Oscar, got KO'd by Mark Rylance for his work in "Bridge of Spies."

Not that it mattered much to me.

I thought maybe since Best Supporting Actor is always one of the first awards handed out, I might make it to see a great moment involving one of Philly's favorite sons, nominated for his work in "Creed."

Didn't happen. I was long gone by then.

Actually, this year was novel for me in another way.

For years, I would look at the Best Picture nominees and once again realize I have no life. In other words, most years I have not seen any of the nominated flicks.

Not this year.

In fact, I actually has seen two of them, "Spotlight" and "The Big Short."

Both were excellent. Of course, I had a soft spot in my heart for "Spotlight" because it deals with journalism.

"About three hours after I slide off into my nightly coma, "Spotlight" won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

I have written about my reaction to "Spotlight" before. It made me at the same time happy and sad.

You can read that column here.

The business has changed just a bit since the setting of this film, in 2001.

And not necessarily for the better. These are very tough times for the newspaper industry.

"Spotlight" is an example of the kind of thing we're in danger of losing.

A good day to take a Flying Leap!

You didn't think we were going to let Leap Day go by without noting it, did you.

Staff writer Patti Mengers caught up with three people celebrating their birthday today, Feb. 29.

Actually, this is the front page you will not see this morning. I had originally planned to lead the paper with our Leap Day feature.

As it usually does, however, the news pays very little attention to my best efforts to plan out the weekend papers.

A big drug bust in Upper Darby quickly knocked the Leap Day story out of the lead position.

Me? I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

I learned something over the weekend.

March 1 is actually the end of what is referred to as 'meteorogoly winter.' I'll take it.

Bring on spring.

Come to think of it, Sunday was not a bad harbinger of what is to come.

How did I celebrate this glorious, sunny day with highs in the 60s.

Yep, I planted myself on the glider on the front porch and soaked up the sun.

It's amazing the difference being outside, in the daylight, makes.

Yes, I am aware that they are calling for a chance of snow later in the week. I am sure Old Man Winter is not done with us just yet.

But for an hour Sunday afternoon, all was right with the world.

A whole new meaning to open space

Open space - and the rapid loss of it - is big news these days in Pennsylvania.

There are groups trying to avoid the development of a pristine tract out in the western edge of the county called the Beaver Valley.

And in the densely developed center of the county, another group is leading the charge against the loss of one of the last undeveloped tracts, on what was the home for years of the Don Guanella School off Sproul Road in Marple.

I used my print column today to talk about it.

I know it probably is not exactly the same, but I can never think about open space without thinking about I-70 in Kansas.

Ever made that drive? I have, several times.

It gives a whole new meaning to open space.

Check it out here.

A close encounter on Providence Road

I've gotten pretty used to having close encounters with the critters on my early-morning commute along Providence Road between West Chester Pike and Rose Tree Park.

But this morning was something else altogether.

As I came to a stop at the stop sign at Bishop Hollow Road, I was greeted by a rather friendly fellow.

It was a deer, apparently content to much on something on the stone wall at that corner.

Usually you get a head's up that deer are out there by the distinctive gleam when your headlights hit their eyes. But this guy had his head away from the light, so I never saw him.

I came to a stop and then glanced to my right. There in the passenger-side window was this huge deer head. It almost scared me to death.

He never flinched as I pulled up. Usually that's the danger with deer, they wait until the last second, then leap right in front of you. This guy also was by himself, usually they run in packs. Take this bit of advice from someone who has been dodging deer for years.

If you see one cross the road ahead of you, hit the brakes. Guaranteed there are three or four trailing behind.

Not this guy, he wasn't going anywhere.

There is very little room between the side of the road and the rock wall at this intersection, so he was standing there looking at me and I was staring at him.

He had a look on his face that said, "What are you looking at?" It's as if I was intruding on his snack, and I probably was.

I pulled through the intersection and then looked back in the rear-view mirror. He still hadn't budged. Whatever it was he was snacking on must have been good.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Feb. 26

The Daily Numbers: 715,776 dollars, how much Mary Lynch, a former worker in the Delco D.A.’s office, ripped off from drug forfeiture funds.

3 to 6 years in state prison for Lynch.

43,297, Lynch’s annual salary on the county payroll.

27 months, when Lynch could be considered for early release with good behavior.

28 of March, when Lynch must report to prison.

100,000 dollars bail, what she remains free on for now after asking the judge for time to get her things in order.

1 man killed in a drive-by shooting in Chester.

5,000 dollar reward being offered for information in the case.

1 shocking video released by county D.A.’s office that clearly shows a man firing from the side door of a van.

200,000 dollar salary for new Wallingford-Swarthmore schools superintendent.

20 years in prison for Darby Borough man for fatal shooting in 2014.

925,000 dollars, how much Nether Providence is spending to acquire the former Summit School on Plush Mill Road.

3-2 win for the Flyers over the Wild last night.

2.6 seconds left on clock when goalie Michael Neuvirth kept a puck that was inches away from crossing goal line away to seal the win.

24 District One hoops crowns for Chester High. They will see No. 25 tonight vs. Plymouth-Whitemarsh.

4-2 win for Ridley to take Central League Boys Hockey crown.

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

Go Clippers! Chester High goes for its unprecedented 25th District One crown tonight.

I Don’t Get It: How is it that Mary Lynch was able to steal $700,000 in drug forfeiture funds from the D.A.’s office over years and yet no one notice?

Today’s Upper
: 60 degrees on Sunday with lots of sun. Maybe Punxsutawney was right. I’ll take it.

Quote Box: “When this first happened, it was shocking. And then it just went to complete disappointment, that someone you trusted, a trusted employee, would betray that trust in such an offensive fashion.”

- D.A. Jack Whelan, on guilty plea by ex-employee Mary Lynch for stealing $700,000 in drug forfeiture funds.

The frightening tale of the tape: 2 scary videos

It's been quite the week for video.

First Upper Darby police released video of a man boarding a SEPTA bus, apparently shooting up heroin and then collapsing into the aisle as stunned riders looked on.

He is revived by an Upper Darby officer delivering a dose of the overdose-reversing drug Narcan.

On our editorial page today, we back up Upper Darby Superintendent Mike Chitwood in his call that simply reviving people is not enough, there has to be more in the way of rehab and treatment for people looking to beat their addiction.

Then yesterday the county District Attorney's office released dramatic video of a drive-by shooting in Chester.

A car is seen sitting on the side of a Chester street. A van rolls up beside the car, the sliding side door swings open and a hand with a gun in it emerges. The surveillance camera clearly shows the person opening fire on the car.

One person inside the car was killed.

It looks like something from a movie, but for the people of Chester, this is all too real.

Just the night before, two young friends leaving a Chinese restaurant were met with a hail of gunfire. A 15-year-old was hit three times.

It's easy to look at the video and mistake it for some kind of staged incident or movie scene.

It's not make-believe, or the movies.

It's real. It's happening in Chester.

And it should scare the hell out of everyone.

Chester High goes for No. 25

24.

Two dozen
.

That's how many District One AAAA hoops crowns the legendary Chester High boys basketball program has collected. Tonight they will go for No. 25.

It won't be easy. The No. 9 seed Clippers will face a tough foe in No. 2 seed Plymouth-Whitemarsh at the the Liacouras Center at Temple University.

Matt DeGeorge has a preview of this District One clash.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Feb. 25

The Daily Numbers: 1.91 inches of rain recorded at the airport that battered the region last night. That’s a record for the date.

1.84 inches of rain that fell in 1976.

45 mph wind gusts that knocked down trees and power lines.

14,000 people without power at one point.

5 smash-and-grab burglaries in Upper Darby and Springfield police believe are the work of the same man.

36 years of service honored for longtime county worker Marion Darby yesterday. Kudos to her.

1 man shot after he allegedly lunged at and stabbed a police officer in Sharon Hill.

1 person shot in Chester while he was driving a car, that eventually slammed into a building

10,221.68 in funds raised for a Drexel Hill cancer patient that a Montco woman admitted she pocketed.

67, age of Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf, who yesterday announced he has a treatable form of prostate cancer.

4 people killed as violent storms rolled across Virginia yesterday.

7 deaths recorded across the South.

1, as in No. 1 Villanova, which fell to No. 5 Xavier on the road last night.

90-83 setback for the Wildcats.

74-57 win for Saint Joe’s over UMass.

111-91 blowout loss for the Sixers against the Pistons.

3.5 million dollars in salary cap space saved by the Eagles by releasing veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans.

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

Eagles front office boss Howie Roseman said yesterday the team was negotiating with quarterback Sam Bradford. Best news I’ve heard on the Eagles in weeks.

I Don’t Get It: A woman has admitted she pocketed the money that was raised to help a cancer patient from Drexel Hill. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Clank’s Bar in Marcus Hook, which will hold a fundraiser for the family of Brenda McCabe, who was killed in a fire her Upper Chichester home this week.

Quote Box: “They have been wonderful neighbors ... Whatever you needed, they were there.”

- Ruth Moton, a neighbor of the McCabes.

Where are the guns coming from?

We used our editorial page today to echo a most interesting question posed by Fran Stier and the Rev. Bernice Warren.

They are affiliated with the anti-violence group Heeding God's Call.

After a teenager was arrested in connection with the shooting of another teen after they exited a school bus in Chester, they pondered the following question:

What is a 16-year-old doing with a gun on a Chester bus? And how did he get it.

It's a question that deserves answers. And police in Chester are working to do just that.

Our editorial is here.

Gov. Wolf's announcement

Up until yesterday, Gov. Tom Wolf's biggest issue was his inability to get much of anything done with Republicans who control both the state House and Senate.

Today, that doesn't look quite as important.

With his wife sitting at his side, Wolf yesterday announced he had a mild, treatable form of prostate cancer. Suddenly, the budget wrangling didn't seem quite as important.

Oh, I am guessing that in a few days, the partisan carping will continue.

But in Harrisburg, where they have raised gridlock to something of an art form in the governor's tumultuous first year in office, it was nice to see members of both parties unite to wish the governor well.

Wolf stressed that he has a 'minor,' treatable form of prostate that was first detected during routine screening last fall. He assured that it will have no effect on his ability to perform the duties of governor, although he is understandably planning to take a few days to be with his family. He is expected to start undergoing non-surgical treatment in a few weeks.

Wolf smartly used the occasion to stress the importance of getting screened.

We see these men and women every day, and we have a tendency not to see them in human terms. Instead we allow them to be framed by the political issues they kick around the Capitol.

Yesterday we saw Wolf in a different light than the man who has been jousting with Republicans over spending and taxes for months. We wish him well.

An early morning report from the roads

We survived the storm and the tornado watch.

I think.

Here's an early morning post-storm report from the roads.

The big issue you will find out there is debris. There is stuff everywhere - downed branches, tossed trash can and mud that has washed across the road from last night's powerful storms.

I encountered branches all over the place. Combined those with the atrocious potholes that are adorning most roads and it's like maneuvering a slalom course out there.

While most of the roads are still wet and there was a bit of ponding, I didn't encounter any flooded roads. That apparently is not the case in many areas across the region.

There is still a light out on Springfield Road in Springfield, but the road is now open once again between West Avenue and Norwinden. It was closed for hours yesterday afternoon after power lines came down.

PECO is reporting 9,000 customers across the region still without power.

We actually got off pretty easy compared with what they had to deal with down South. Several people were killed as a series of tornadoes rolled across several states. Nasty storm clouds were seen looming over the White House and Washington Monument in the nation's capital.

Spring can't get here soon enough.

CLICK HERE for the full traffic report for the region.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Feb. 22

The Daily Numbers: 1 officer stabbed and 1 suspect wounded in police-involved shooting last night in Sharon Hill.

1 person shot on Chester street last night.

30,000 dollar monthly fee that is causing friction between the Chester County SPCA and Delaware County officials.

120 animals a month guaranteed to be sent to the Chesco facility, at $250 per animal. That comes to $30,000 monthly fee.

60 times that Upper Darby police and first responders have used Narcan to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.

58 of those instances have saved a life.

4 packets of heroin found on man who was captured on video ODing on SEPTA train. He was revived by a police officer using Narcan, and then charged with drug possession.

16,000 dollars, how much Upper Darby School District is spending to send administrators to a series of conferences.

30 months of home monitoring for a man who made threats against special needs students at Haverford High School.

3 straight wins for Republican Donald Trump.

15-game scoring streak for Flyers standout rookie Shayne Gostisbehere snapped last night in Carolina.

3-1 loss for the Flyers to Hurricanes.

124-115 loss for the Sixers to the Magic.

5, as in No. 5 Xavier, which hosts Villanova tonight.

74-55 loss for Temple at Tulsa last night.

74-62 win for Chester over Ridley last night. They will face Plymouth-Whitemarsh Friday night for the District One AAAA title.

61-54 win for Academy Park over Downingtown West in AAAA District One play.

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

Does anyone still care about the LeSean McCoy story anymore. Time for a decision. Either charge him or drop it.

I Don’t Get It: Still not exactly sure what is going on in Upland, but I feel badly that Council President Christine Peterson got dragged through the mud one day, only to have the charges against her tossed the next.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Chester High Clippers. This one is real simple. It is the best high school basketball program in Pennsylvania history.

Quote Box: “She did absolutely nothing wrong.”

- Michael Dugan, attorney for Upland Council President Christine Peterson.

A political spat in Upland?

Raise your hand if you see politics behind what is going on in Upland Borough.

Yep, met too.

Let's review. That was the photo of the borough council president Christine Peterson, on the front page of the Tuesday Daily Times, noting she had been charged in a flap over signatures on some police time cards. Peterson also just happens to be the police secretary.

But Peterson's photo is back on the front page this morning. That is because late yesterday afternoon Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan ordered all the charges withdrawn, saying there was insufficient evidence to go forward with the case.

I wanted to be sure we put Peterson's photo back on the front page, since it was there the day before when she was charged.

In the meantime, the man who brought the charges, police Chief Nelson Ocasio, remains on suspension.

Whelan declined any further comment, saying that the matter remained under investigation.

In the meantime, we managed to get a comment from Peterson's attorney, Michael Dugan.

"She very happy the charges were withdrawn," Dugan said. "She did absolutely nothing wrong. The only thing she's guilty of is being a dedicated Upland employee and council member."

Later Peterson herself released a statement, also saying that she had done nothing wrong, and stressing that she had been charged as the police secretary, not in her role as council president.

Fair enough.

But it's pretty clear that something is going on in the little borough.

If you smell politics and a power struggle, I think you're on the right track.

Here's the full latest update.

Can GOP stop Donald Trump?

Meet the angry Americans.

Take a deep breath and come to grips with this thought: It is beginning to look more and more like Donald Trump is going to be the Republican candidate for president of the United States.

Yes, that guy who likes to slap his name on casinos and other buildings.

The guy who says, 'You're fired,' on a reality TV show.

A pretty good insight as to why Trump is dominating the political landscape these days can be gleaned by some Associated Press stories tied to last night's Republican Nevada Caucus, won by Trump. It was his third straight win, and he's leading in most of the other key states.

Polling by the AP shows that a clear majority of those who took part in the caucuses last night want the next president to be from outside the political establishment.

Enter Donald Trump.

Six in 10 polled says they favor someone from outside the political system, as opposed to someone with political experience. You don't get much more outside the system than Trump.

Maybe more important, the polling showed that many Americans are angry. In particular they are dismayed at the way government is functioning, or maybe better stated not functioning.

All of this means Trump can no longer be tossed aside as a fluke, something that will fizzle out.

Republicans are running out of time if the mainstream of the party still thinks they can derail the Trump Express.

Super Tuesday looms in just a few weeks, and a big day for Trump there might turn this express into a runaway train.

Chester tops Ridley, will seek another District One crown

Thank God for high school sports.

In other words, it was pretty much a night to forget for your local teams.

Temple got buried by Tulsa, putting their NCAA tourney hopes in jeopardy.

The Flyers fell in Carolina, and saw rookie sensation Shayne Gostisbehere's 15-game scoring streak snapped.

And of course the Sixers lost again, this time at home to the Magic.

All of which takes a back seat to the splendor that played out at the Liacouras Center at Temple, where high school hoops once again took center stage.

Here's a word for all of those who doubted the Chester Clippers as they struggled early in this season. They're back.

Last night the beat Ridley, 74-62, to advance to the District One AAAA final. Chester will go for another District One crown Friday night vs. Plymouth-Whitemarsh at the Liacouras Center.

Matt DeGeorge has all the action from last night, while columnist Rob Parent talks about the defense that powered the Clippers' big win.

No high school team in Pennsylvania can match the run of excellence compiled by the legendary Chester hoops program. How good have the Clippers been?

Friday night they will be seeking their 24th District One crown. Obviously that's more than any other team in District One. After that it's on to the states and the hunt for another state crown. The Clippers have appeared in the state tourney more than 40 times. They have collected a Pennsylvania record 8 state championships, and been runner-up another 10 times.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Feb. 23

The Daily Numbers: 1 person killed and 1 injured when fire swept through a home in Upper Chichester.

48, age of Prospect Park man convicted in the rape of a girl, 12.

6 to 23 months in prison for a man in connection with a series of bomb threats made against businesses in Upper Chichester.

52, age of the Upland Borough Council president, who now faces charges in connection with an allegation of forging the police chief’s name on a time card.

2 women who are active in the group Heeding God’s Call who are asking more questions about how a 16-year-old Chester High student managed to get a gun he used to wound another student.

40 years of service to Ridley Park Fire Co. for Ned Donkin that was noted by borough council.

2 billion dollar deficit being forecast for Pennsylvania under the latest budget proposal from Gov. Tom Wolf.

14 percent spending hike, that comes to $4 billion, being sought by Wolf in his $33 billion spending plan.

600 million dollars, how much 4 state-related universities have gone without in the 8-month budget standoff. Yesterday they urged the Legislature to pass a spending plan that would released much-needed funding.

25 years after the fire at One Meridian in Philly that took the lives of 3 firefighters.

2 local teams clashing tonight in PIAA AAAA hoops at the Liacouras Center at Temple. It will be Ridley vs. Chester.

3-way trade that involved the Sixers that was nixed by the NBA because of injury concerns. Joel Anthony is not coming to Philly.

5 year deal for Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins.

40.5 million dollar deal, with $21 million of that guaranteed.

3 straight weeks at No. 1 for Villanova hoops.

31-year run in the Top 25 snapped for the Tennessee women. That’s 565 consecutive weeks.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. Ridley vs. Chester. Two magic names in Delco sports will clash tonight.

I Don’t Get It: Still trying to figure out what exactly is going on in Upland, where the council president faces charges that may or may not stick and the police chief is now under scrutiny.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Chester Police and the group Heeding God’s Call. Both are seeking answers as to how a 16-year-old got a gun that was used in a shooting last week.

Quote Box: “I was watching the flames thinking that my friend was inside there.”

- Neighbor Ruth Moton, on the inferno next door that claimed a life.

The new (journalism) world order

Every day I am reminded just how different this business I have toiled in now for more than three decades is from the one I entered as a wide-eyed kid fresh out of college.

Without question the biggest difference - and challenge - we face every day, one that has shaken the business to its core, is the arrival of the Internet and the explosion of information available to readers every day.

There was a time when we were alone in "publishing" information.

Not anymore.

Today every person with a phone, tablet or laptop is a "publisher."

Information is delivered instantaneously, as opposed to once a day in print.

Today we are leveraging that information by enlisting readers to help us in our daily task of covering the county.

The truth is we simply are not going to be everywhere when news breaks. That is especially true at night and on weekends.

That is why the first thing I did yesterday morning is scan social media for anyone who may have been at the scene of the horrendous fire that took a life in Upper Chichester.

I soon found images on Facebook.

When our reporter Rick Kauffman got to the scene early Monday morning to work on the story, he met a neighbor who had compelling photos of the raging inferno that had consumed her friend's house the night before.

One of those images by Ruth Moton appears on today's front page.

Rick's photos, showing the aftermath of the fire, as well as a bouquet of flowers that was left at the house, appear inside. The business of journalism has fundamentally changed. From a financial standpoint, it is more challenging than ever.

But from a pure information stanndpoint, people have never had more sources to get their news.

It is my hope that they will still turn to us for what is going on in Delaware County. But we are no longer alone.

Not by a long shot.

Chester vs. Ridley

Chester vs. Ridley.

You don't really have to say anything else, do you?

These two stories high school sports franchises will clash on the hardwood tonight at the Liacouras Center on the Temple University campus.

There really isn't anything more to say about the Chester basketball program. Simply put, it is the stuff of legends. This team followed a blueprint put in place by late coach Fred Pickett. Eyebrows would be raised early in the season when the Clippers would suffer a couple of uncharacteristic losses while playing a brutal non-league slate. But Pickett knew that those setbacks would pay dividends come playoff time.

Larry Yarbray's squad struggled early this season, getting out of the gates with a 2-5 mark. But, as expected of a team donning those orange and black colors, they are rounding into form and have been dominant in the District One AAAA tourney.

They will face a red-hot Ridley team. Yes, Ridley, the school likely better known for its football program. Not this year. The Green Raiders have been a force, putting together a sparkling 25-1 mark.

The Green Raiders are the No. 4 seed in District One, while the Clippers come in at No. 9.

You can get a full preview of this clash from Matt DeGeorge here.

And make sure you follow along on Twitter tonight for live updates from the Liacouras Center.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Feb. 22

The Daily Numbers: 1 person killed, 1 person injured when fire roared through home in Upper Chichester Sunday night.

100 firefighters who responded to the blaze.

290,000 dollars committed by Wawa to help alleviate traffic issues as they move forward with plan for new store on eastern edge of Media Borough at Baltimore Pike and Providence Road.

33 conditions for the site that have been met by Wawa.

50 tax bills that came back to Clifton Heights for having incorrect address or ‘return to sender.’

4 Democrats who are now actively seeking the nod to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.

2 new statues of Joe Paterno in the works on the Penn State campus.

1 man now facing charges in crash that killed 3 in Philly. Speed was a factor in the crash.

9.7 million dollars raised by the kids who took part in THON on the Penn State campus. Well done.

1 more church closing its doors. This time it’s SS. Cosmas and Damian in Conshohocken.

33.3 billion dollar spending plan that will be pushed this week in Harrisburg by Gov. Tom Wolf.

6 people fatally shot in shooting spree by an Uber driver in Michigan.

6 dead after cyclone roars across the Fiji.

177 mph winds that hit the island.

700 wins for Villanova women’s hoops coach Harry Perretta.

129-103 loss for the Sixers last night in Dallas.

3-4 months on the shelf for Flyers defenseman Michael Del Zotto with a wrist injury.

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

Raise your hand if you think Flyers rookie defenseman Shayne ‘Ghost’ Gostisbehere just may be the most exciting athlete in the city right now.

I Don’t Get It: Why would an Uber driver randomly kill 6 people, actually going about his work and giving people rides in between shootings.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Dr. Brandon Cooley for the phenomenal work he is doing in turning around the fortunes of Penn Wood High School. The proof is in the numbers.

Quote Box: “My goal at each place is to always move the pendulum - more and more students succeeding at the highest level.”

- Dr. Brandon Cooley, principal at Penn Wood High.

A success story in William Penn schools

The William Penn School District - and in particular Penn Wood High - often get a bad rap.

I head all the time from people like former Lansdowne Mayor Jayne Young, and William Penn School Board members Jen Hoff and Charlotte Hummel about how the deck is stacked against them.

They're right. That's one of the reasons the district is part of a lawsuit filed against the state over the way the state funds public education.

It's simple really. William Penn students are playing on an unlevel playing field. They're penalized simply because of their zip code, making do with less than students just a few miles away in more well-to-do school districts.

That does not, however, keep them from doing good things.

And in the case of Penn Wood High, you might be surprised at just how well they are doing.

And a big reason for that is the principal, Dr. Brandon Cooley. He's turned around the fortunes of this once-struggling high school, and now has it being mentioned among the best in Delaware County.

As our front page declares today, just call it "Cooley High."

You can read the full story here.

A salute to two mentors

I used my print column today to salute two mentors.

One I met only once. Acel Moore was speaking at Lincoln University. At the time I fancied myself as an aspiring writer. Moore stressed to me the difference between being a writer and a journalist. I've never forgotten that lesson, and the fact that Moore took time to talk to me.

Jack Shingle I talked to many times. He was always looking to get stories about kids into the paper. Shingle touched a lot of lives here in Delaware County. I think there are a lot of people who were set on the straight and narrow by this longtime coach and Upper Darby School District truancy officer.

The world could use a lot more people like Acel Moore and Jack Shingle.

You can read my print column here.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Kirkland's vision for Chester

He might have the toughest job in Delaware County?

Who is he?

Thaddeus Kirkland, the new mayor of Chester.

Kirkland, the longtime state rep, is not exactly shying away from the job.

Last night he held a town hall meeting and rolled out a comprehensive 53-page report laying out his vision for the city.

And he made some news, with new Police Commissioner Darren Alston vowing that his officers will be wearing body cameras within 30 days.

That comes in the wake of a police-involved shooting that was declared "justified" in an initial finding by the D.A.'s office.

Kirkland and Alston agreed.

Some in the community did not.

You can get all the details here.

Day 1 for Phillies: Who are these guys?

This tells you everything you need to know about what promises to be a different Phillies season.

Yesterday was the first day for pitchers and catchers.

And all I could think about was the fact that the Phils have moved their radio broadcasts from the AM dial on WPHT to 94-WIP on the FM dial.

People weren't joking yesterday when they suggested maybe the players should be wearing name tags.

Who are these guys?

Gone are the familiar faces - J-Roll, Utley, Hamels.

In are a slew of prospects.

Pete Mackanin, after 47 years in baseball, goes into his first season as skipper.

You have to feel good about him.

And for some reason, I think this group has the potential to be better than the disaster so many people are predicting.

You can read about Day 1 here.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Feb. 18

The Daily Numbers: 5 to 10 years in prison for a 27-year-old Chester man convicted on straw gun purchase violations.

1 student shot and 1 being sought after they exited a school bus in Chester yesterday.

5,000 dollar reward posted for information on attack on mailman in Morton.

20 years in prison for former priest Mark Haynes on child abuse charges. He served parishes in Delco as well as being stationed at SS. Simon & Judge in Westtown.

1 million dollars in heroin seized and a Norristown man facing big-time drug charges in one of largest drug arrests in Montco history.

2,000 dollars in jeans stolen from a store in Philly.

2 nights spent in a 14-foot sinkhole for a dog in State College before it was rescued.

9 candidates who will be on ballot for president in Pa. Primary this spring.

38 million dollar dip for impact fees coming from Marcellus Shale biz in Pa.

185 million dollars in total that will benefit Pa. towns, that’s the lowest annual payment in the 5-year history of the fee.

43 percent decline in new wells drilled this year.

14.3 billion dollar economic impact for the region created by the University of Pennsylvania, the city’s largest employer.

900 million dollars in construction projects over the past 5 years at Penn.

37,000 employees in the system, up from 31,000 5 years ago.

83-67 win for No. 1 Villanova over Temple at the Liacouras Center last night.

25 points for Jalen Brunson, answering the boos that rained down on him. He is the son of former Temple star Rick Brunson.

79-70 win for Saint Joe’s over No. 15 Dayton.

3 p.m. today trade deadline for the NBA

1, as in Day 1 of spring training for pitchers and catchers with the Phillies in Clearwater.

0 Phillies games that will be broadcast on AM radio this year.

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

No Phillies games on AM radio this year. The sound of summer won’t be the same.

I Don’t Get It: Buy a package to listen to baseball on my phone? I’ll pass.

Today’s Uppe
r: Kudos to Villanova and Saint Joe’s, who both posted huge wins last night.

Quote Box
: “Straw purchasing ... is one of the main ways criminals prohibited from owning guns get access to them.”

- Jack Whelan, on sentencing for man convicted on straw gun purchase charges.

The Sound of Summer will be different: The Phillies leave the AM dial

A little piece of me - my past and my summers - died yesterday.

The "crackle" of baseball is no more.

Oh, the Phillies will still play and continue their rebuilding process. But their games will not be broadcast on AM radio. Somewhere Bill Campbell, By Saam, Richie Ashburn and Harry Kalas no doubt are shedding a tear.

Sure, I will still delight to the sounds of Scott Franzke and Larry Anderson, but the "sound of summer," the crackle of AM radio, will no longer accompany the crickets on those steamy summer nights.

The Phillies announced yesterday they are moving all their games on radio to 94.1-WIP on the FM dial. The Fightins will no longer be magically transported up and down the East Coast on the AM dial on 1210 WPHT. You can read all the details here.

I know that to a lot of people that is not a big thing.

It is to me.

I grew up looking out the window each night to see if my father was in his usual perch, sitting at the picnic table in the back yard, a cigarette in hand, his transistor radio at this side, and a cold Schmidt's beer in his glass. A point of order here. Never from the bottle or can. Always poured into a glass.

When I looked out the window and saw the red glow off that Tareyton and the illuminated dial on his dad's radio, it reminded me that everything was right with the world.

My father,a die-hard Philly sports fan, was one of the few men I ever encountered who preferred to listen to games on the radio. In fact, when he would wander into the house for another beverage, I would sometimes ask him why he didn't want to watch the game on TV? He always answered the same way.

"I can see the game better on the radio," he would respond. It took me a long time to figure out what he meant. Not anymore.

He imparted a love of sports in his sons.

And his youngest acquired his taste, that baseball is best enjoyed on the radio, the aural enigma of the game accompanied by the pictures in your imagination.

Baseball, the designated hitter abomination not withstanding, is the most cerebral of games. It is perfect for the radio. These days, summer to me means a T-shirt and shorts and the Phillies on the radio.

It is not the only oddity that accompanies the slow, lazy sojourn from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

I like humidity, the thicker the better. Give me the kind of night where you can cut the air with a knife, put Messrs. Franzke and L.A. on the radio, give me a cold beer, and I'm in heaven, accompanied only by the crickets and the stars above.

But this summer will be different. I will not need to scramble to pick up an AM signal. I would curse the fates that allowed WPHT's 50,000-watt signal at times to be picked up as far away as North Carolina, but somehow escape my feeble radio.

Yes, I am aware that you can actually subscribe to a package offered by Major League Baseball to get the games on your phone. I'll pass. I will continue to trust my handy portable radio.

But I will miss the staccato of that AM dial.

I think dad would understand.

Where have you gone, Bill Campbell?

The Kane Scrutiny continues

The Kane Scrutiny continues.

The embattled (which I'm beginning to think is her first name) state attorney general made sure of that this week when she announced she would not seek re-election, but had no intention of stepping down from her post.

Kane made history as the first woman and first Democrat elected as the state's top law enforcement officer.

It seems like she's been making headlines ever since.

We use our editorial today to review the latest chapter in the "Perils of Kathleen."

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Feb. 17

The Daily Numbers: 1, as in No. 1 Villanova going up against Temple tonight at the Liacouras Center.

6 to 23 months in jail for a mom convicted of DUI with a toddler in her car after an incident at a drive-through lane.

89,000 dollar state grant for the Lansdowne Theatre.

5,000 followers for the Nether Providence Police Facebook page. The township is now considering getting into the act as well.

1 term for embattled state Attorney General Kathleen Kane. She indicated she will not seek re-election.

87 degrees, high temperature yesterday in Phoenix.

90s expected there today, earliest date the thermometer has ever crossed the 90 plateau.

6-3 win for the Flyers over the Devils.

5 points behind the Devils for the final playoff spot.

13 straight games with a goal for rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.

56-34 win for the Chester over Hatboro-Horsham as the Clippers appear to be rounding into playoff form.

60-56 loss for Penn Wood to Plymouth Whitemarsh.

45-31 win for Ridley over Perk Valley.

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

No. 1 Villanova vs. Temple at the Liacouras Center. It doesn’t get much better.

I Don’t Get It: Still not sure why the Pennsylvania Legislature is not spending as much time on getting a budget in place as they are trying to impeach Kathleen Kane.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Geary family of Haverford for going public with their story of how a carbon monoxide detector in their house saved their lives.

Quote Box: “I was watching the halftime show, next thing I know my husband was yelling at me to wake up.”

- Lauren Geary, on her scary episode.

Tom Wolf states his case

There's nothing quite like picking up the phone on a dreary Tuesday afternoon and being greeted with this message:

"Hi, Phil. This is Tom Wolf."

No, it was not a recording.

And it wasn't a fake. The governor was calling, even if he didn't identify himself as such.

I kind of like the idea that Wolf didn't use his title when he greeted me. He campaigned on the idea of being a "different" kind of governor. Well, this unannounced phone call certainly qualifies as that.

I'd like to think Wolf specifically decided to call me to chat. My guess is that he was doing likewise with newsmakers and opinion shapers across the state.

Not surprisingly, he wanted to talk about the state budget. Or rather the lack of one. Wolf has been locked in a standoff with Republican leaders since last summer, unable to agree on spending and the revenue (read tax hikes) to pay for what the governor wants.

Last week, Wolf went through the charade of presenting a new budget, this despite the fact that his initial proposal is still being batted around Harrisburg.

But Wolf did something else. He struck something of a defiant tone, chiding Republican legislators and suggesting if they were not interested in doing their jobs, they might want to seek employment elsewhere.

The first thing I asked Wolf was if he regretted the tone - and what some criticized as more harsh political rhetoric - he used in the speech.

I have some bad news for Republicans who recoiled at the governor's comments and suggested they weren't helping the process. He's not backing off.

Wolf is not blinking. In fact, he repeated it.

The governor believes Pennsylvania - and Republicans in both the House and Senate - need a reality check. He believes it is time for the Keystone State to confront the ugly truth of its fiscal health, which is not good.

"What I was saying is that this is the truth," Wolf said of his spending plan, which once again calls for a series of tax hikes, including a new levy on the state's now less than robust Marcellus Shale business, and an increase in the personal income tax, as well as making more items applicable to the state sales tax.

"Folks, we have a hard task here," is how Wolf summed up the situation.

Here's something else what probably won't come as a surprise.

Wolf is going to have a very hard time getting what he wants from the Legislature.

Part of that is because while the state backed him (some would argue they voted against Republican incumbent Tom Corbett), at the same time they actually were expanding Republican majorities in both the House and Senate.

Wolf is well aware that he is operating under a divided government, and he specifically says he does not feel he was handed any special mandate by Pennsylvania voters

. What he was handed is what he calls several fiscal time bombs.

Actually, the governor intimated that he probably could have managed to get by in the 2015-16 budget with a few patches and other cosmetic fixes to address what he says is a $500 million deficit.

The same does not hold true for the budget he presented last week for 2016-17. He says the state's deficit is set to balloon to somewhere north of $2.2 billion.

He believes his spending plan shows a sense of "urgency" needed to address the state's fiscal woes.

He is urging everyone to buy in - including Republicans in Harrisburg. He again is pushing for increases in aid to education to address the state's ranking of 45th in the nation in terms of share of education spending.

He is the first to admit this is a "huge philosophical shift."

And he closed the call with a new challenge to Republicans.

"I'm making the case as clear as I can," Wolf said. "Now is the time for this to happen."

He probably could have said the same thing last July.

My guess is that he's going to be saying for awhile longer.

A tribute to Jack Shingle

We used our editorial page today to pay respects to a great man.

It's real simple. Every town could use someone like Jack Shingle.

He leaves a huge void - and an impressive legacy - in Upper Darby. Shingle, a longtime coach and truant officer in the township, touched scores of young lives, often steering them back on course when they were in danger of straying.

You can read the editorial here.

What's next? Locusts?

Anyone who knows me knows that I loathe winter. In fact, my distaste for this time of year seems to grow a bit with each passing year.

Sometimes I wish I could just climb into bed after the New Year's holiday and emerge on the day when Daylight Savings Time Kicks in. But there is a part of me (OK, a very small part), that is glad I was awake to experience what the region went through in terms of weather yesterday.

In short, I don't think I've ever seen anything like it, and it makes me wonder about what the hell is going on with the environment, whether this is global warming run amok, or if it's just Mother Nature playing games with us.

It all started last Saturday, when we threatened the record low of 2 degrees.

Fast forward several days and I'm riding into the office yesterday and the thermometer in my car odometer is registering 53 degrees. Of course, getting there was a bit of an adventure in itself.

It started Monday night when a Clipper system arrived right on schedule at mid-morning. No problem, right. It dusted my car in the parking lot, and covered the grass and walkways, but the roads remained for the most part just wet.

The forecast was for the snow to give way to rain. That occurred on the drive home Wednesday night.

As I pulled my car into the driveway Monday night, I considered for a moment whether I wanted to leave it on the slight incline.

Maybe, I thought to myself, I should leave it on the street. Then I head one last forecast on the radio, which assured me a warming trend and more rain would wash away all the trouble overnight.

Uh, not exactly.

When I got up Tuesday morning, a quick glance outside gave the distinct sheen that accompanies winter storms. One of two thing had happened. Either the roads and cars were just wet, or I was in for a long morning.

Guess which one?

I took one step out the door and onto the walkway and almost landed flat on my back. It was like an ice rink. Just getting to the car turned into an adventure. I couldn't navigate up the driveway, so I resorted to trudging through the snow, where at least I could get a grip, and finally made my way to my car.

That did not solve my problems. Then I had to get into it, considering it was completely encased in ice.

I had a feeling that decision not to leave the car on the street was going to haunt me. I wasn't wrong.

After at least chipping away enough ice to see out the windshield, I gave it a try to back out of the driveway. Forget it. I wasn't going anywhere.

I retreated back in the house and decided to work from there for awhile.

Amazingly, just a few hours later, I was driving to work amid temperatures in the mid-50s, at least 20 degrees warmer than overnight, and nearly 50 degrees warmer than what we endured over the weekend. That was followed by wind-driven downpours. It was raining so hard I skipped my daily lunchtime walk to Wawa for a coffee. Two hours later, the sun was out.

Once in the office, I also noticed that the West Coast is having a heat wave, as people pack the beaches amid temperatures in the high-80s and 90s. In Arizona, they set a record for the earliest date where temperatures have soared into the 90s.

They could send a little of that warmth here.

Hey, I'm not going to complain. They say we could push 60 here this weekend.

My only fear is what weird turn the weather is going to take next.

Bring on the locusts.

It's No. 1 Villanova vs. Temple

No, it's not being played at the Palestra.

It will be contested a few miles away on North Broad Street.

But there is no doubting tonight's clash that pits No. 1 Villanova vs. Temple at the Liacouras is one of the biggest Philly hoops events in years.

It is not the first time the two schools have met when one of them was the top-ranked team in the country. Terry Toohey recounts the fever that surrounded the meeting between the Owls and Wildcats back in 1988. At that time, John Chaney's Owls, led by Mark Macon and Howard Evans, were No. 1. They faced a stiff challenge from Rollie Massimino's 'Cats, which featured Doug West.

The game, won by Temple, 98-86, is widely considered one of the greatest in the long, illustrious annals of Big 5 play. Villanova is chasing another bit of Bbig 5 history as well. If the Wildcats win tonight, they will become the first Big 5 team in history to win the outright City Series title in the full round-robin tournament three years in a row.

The only thing missing is the venue. This one will be played at the Liacouras Center, not the Palestra.

Make sure you follow our live blog tonight to get live updates during the game.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

RIP Jack Shingle

Every town needs men like Jack Shingle.

Upper Darby lost an icon for local youths when the longtime coach and township councilman passed away last week.

Shingle had a huge effect on two generations of kids in the township, preaching the value of athletics in keeping them out of trouble.

He leaves a huge void at a time when men like him are in short supply.

He will be direly missed.

Here is the story we did on his passing.

Taking time to honor Scalia

We used our editorial page today to note the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia - and to lament the fact that politics immediately took center stage after his passing.

Regardless of what you thought of Scalia and his staunch conservative view of the Constitution - known as 'Originalism' - it is hard to underestimate his effect on the court.

Our editorial page often was diametrically opposed to Scalia's beliefs. That never diminished our respect for one of the great legal minds of our time.

Of course, our increasingly cheap political discourse could not honor Scalia's legacy. Instead, the argument immediately ensued as to whether President Obama should nominate a successor. The president indicated he would do just that, while Republicans said that should be left until after the next election and the new president.

That is an argument for another day.

For today, we instead choose to take the time to honor Scalia.

Here's our editorial.

Forget the report from the roads; I can't get out of the driveway

Forget about a report from the roads.

This morning I couldn't even get to the car.

One look out the window when I got up gave me an inkling of what Mother Nature had in store for me. I could see that deadly 'sheen' coming off everything reflected in the light from the lightpost in our front yard.

Luckily, I was forewarned.

I went very gingerly out the front door - and it's a good thing.

One step onto the walkway told me this was going to be a challenge. Basically, everything out there is now covered in ice.

I basically had to walk in the yard - on the snow - to get any traction at all.

Our driveway has a slight incline as it goes up to the street. Most days I don't even think about it. Not in winter. And especially not on a day like today.

Every time I took another step toward the car, I started to slide back down the driveway.

Finally, with one foot in the snow, I managed to get to the car.

Next problem, getting the car door open. They were frozen shut. I managed to dump my bag and laptop in the back seat, then gingerly try to get into the front seat.

I turned on the car and defrost, then considered my options in trying to get back out to at least attempt to clean off the windshield.

That in itself was a project, unable to get any kind of solid footing, I was left to hack away at the ice on the windshield.

All the while in the back of my head I was thinking about how I was going to back out of the driveway.

I shouldn't have bothered. I had no chance.

I put the car in reverse and gingerly stepped on the gas.

After an initial lurch backward, I heard that familiar sound of winter, the front tires on my car spinning. I was going nowhere.

After a few more attempts, I realized this wasn't going to work.

Right now my car is resting against the back bumper of my wife's.

So the bottom line is I have no idea what the roads are like. I can report, however, that my driveway is treacherous. I'll give it another try a little later after the thaw settles in.

They say we are supposed to hit the 50s later today.

It can't happen soon enough.

Have I mentioned that I gave up cursing for Lent? And that I hate winter.

I supposed I should give thanks for the technology that allows me to work from home. Then again, what fun would that be?

Consider yourself warned. Your biggest challenge this morning might be getting to your car.

It was for me.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Feb. 15

The Daily Numbers: 17 degrees, our overnight low.

36, the high later today as the Polar Vortex eases.

1-3 inches of snow expected across the region before it turns to rain.

53 expected high tomorrow, and we might hit 60 over the weekend.

200 students sickened by stomach ailment at Ursinus College, where classes will resume today after being cancelled 2 days last week.

3 people killed in pileup during snow squall that hit I-78 in Central Pa. on Saturday.

50 cars involved in multiple crashes.

2 people hurt when shots are fired into Phoenixville apartment.

3-1 loss for Flyers to Rangers last night.

0-2 in weekend set with the Rangers for the orange and black.

77-65 win for Temple over South Florida. That sets up showdown Wednesday night with No. 1 Villanova.

61 straight wins for UConn women, who beat Temple.

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

The hottest ticking in town? That’s easy. Villanova vs. Temple Wednesday night.

I Don’t Get It: Those who fail to see the brilliance of Justice Antonin Scalia, regardless of whether you agree with him or not.

Today’s Upper
: Kudos to the trailblazing legacy of longtime Philly journalist Acel Moore, who died over the weekend.

Quote Box: “At no point in time was water quality the issue.”

- Tom Moore, on the problem with aging infrastructure and old homes that feature lead-based paint on high lead levels in Chester.

Appreciating Antonin Scalia

It's easy to spout platitudes about someone you agree with.

It's something else altogether to be awe-inspired by someone whose views are usually in diametric opposition to your own.

There are not many issues where I found myself on the same page with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

That never kept me from the pages of his rousing opinions.

If you're looking for a sign of just how great Scalia was, maybe that's it.

I know this is not a popular thing for "liberals" to admit. Scalia is supposed to be anathema.

Maybe so. But I'd offer another word as well.

Brilliant.

Scalia likely did more to change the fact of the high court. He was controversial, passionate, and most importantly, not shy about his opinions.

For me, they were always a must read, even when I knew I was not going to agree with him.

Then something odd happened.

The more I read his opinions, the more I found myself agreeing with him.

Scalia came to be known in legal circles as an "originalist."

Simply put, he did not abide by the belief that the Constitution was a living, breathing, and most importantly "evolving" document. Instead, it was what it was.

And Scalia never veered away from that belief. That often put him at odds with judges and others who insisted on "interpreting" the Constitution.

He was not a big fan of abortion, affirmative action and gay rights, and he routinely would use the words of the Constitution to back up that stance. He was noted for challenging those who pushed such positions to show him where in the Constitution those rights were outlined.

He had little time or patience for judges who used an interpretation of the Constitution to impose their own beliefs, although I guess the same argument could be made for him not doing the same.

Scalia was the first Italian-American to join the high court, and he did not waste any time making his name synonymous with conservative issues.

He took great pride in jousting with attorneys during legal arguments before the court.

Maybe most notably, he retained the ability to be friends with those whose positions he disavowed. His longtime friendship with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Unfortunately, Scalia's death over the weekend merely provides more fuel for the partisan politics and bloodsport that defines Washington today. President Obama said he would make a nomination to fill the void left by Scalia, while Republicans immediately said no such nomination should be made until after the election.

Here's a name to keep in mind in case you're interested in such things.

Judge Merrick Garland. He is the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He's been considered for the high court before. His name is believed to be on the short list.

But that's not why I know him.

My daughter actually clerked for him after graduating from law school.

I think it probably goes without saying that my daughter would not agree with many of the positions Justice Scalia held. But that never stopped her from seeing just how brilliant of a legal mind he was.

She admired his writing and his bedrock belief in the Constitution.

My daughter can write rings around her father. She got that from her mother.

For now I will mark the passing of a legal giant, regardless of whether I agreed with him or not.

RIP Acel Moore

I must have stuck out like a sore thumb.

Maybe that's why Acel Moore noticed me.

I fancied myself as something of a writer. I found myself attending classes at Lincoln University. Let's just say it wasn't hard to spot me on campus.

When I saw at Acel Moore was scheduled to give a talk on campus. I decided to take it in.

As usual, I was one of the very few white faces in that room.

Maybe Moore drew on his own experience when he called on me during a question-and-answer session.

Afterward, he took the time to talk to me.

v Acel Moore likely knew something about being a minority, which is what I encountered for the first time in my life. I always tell anyone who asks that it was an eye-opening experience, and one I wish more people - especially young people - got the opportunity to experience. I think we would be light years of where we are in race relations if that were the case.

Acel Moore was a pioneering presence in breaking the color barriers in the news business.

Moore did two very important things. He changed the way news outlets looked at - and covered - the minority community. And he opened the doors to many of those newsrooms, allowing and encouraging people of color to actually take part in that process.

He won a Pulitzer Price for his stores on the abuses in the state hospital system.

In 1975, he co-founded the National Associated of Black Journalists.

In 1984, he launched the Acel Moore Career Development Workshop, giving high school students a five-week crash course in what it means to be a newspaper journalist.

But it was a talk he gave 10 years earlier on the campus of tiny Lincoln University in Chester County that left a lasting impression on me.

More than anything else, Acel Moore was one of the first people who shed some light on the difference between being a writer and a journalist. Believe me, there is a huge difference.

We lost Acel Moore over the weekend. He died unexpectedly at his home in Wyncote.

But his spirit lives on in countless young people he inspired to get into the journalism racket.

Including one kid who stuck out like at sore thumb at Lincoln University.

I will forever be grateful.

Valentine Vortex gives way to Presidents Day Punch

We survived the 'Valentine Vortex.'

Now brace yourself for the Presidents Day Punch.

Winter continues unabated.

My wife and I are dedicated walkers. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, we start our day with a long walk on the trail that runs through our development.

Saturday morning, as the Polar Vortex blew into the region, I think both of us were hoping the other would decided to skip our walk. Instead, we both bundled up and headed out into the elements.

Sunday morning was another story.

Apparently, we did not break the record of 2 degrees set back in 1979. Could have fooled me. That was about as cold as I can remember being in a long time. Not even a bright sun could ease the brutal cold, although I did manage to set up a director's chair directly in front of one of the windows in our bedroom and exult in the Sunday paper with the sun on my face.

This morning we warmed all the way up to 19 degrees when I got into the car for the morning commute. The ride into the office was a breeze, but it sounds like the ride home might be an adventure.

We are expecting a new coating of snow today. It's supposed to start sometime this morning. But the real problem could be a changeover to rain. All of this depends on just how fast we warm up. If the rain moves in before temperatures rise above freezing, it could result in a travel nightmare.

Eventually it is going to change over to all rain, and then we are in line for a day-long rain tomorrow, with temperatures zooming into the 50s.

And don't look now, but they are saying we have a chance of hitting 60 on Saturday.

But at least for now, brace yourself for what could be a messy Presidents Day.

Here is the full forecast.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Feb. 12

The Daily Numbers: 2 days, that’s how much longer you have to buy that Valentine’s Day gift, gentlemen.

2 degrees, our expected low temperature Sunday morning. Real-feel temperatures will register below zero.

2 is the record low for Sunday, set back in 1979.

42 is the normal high; 27 the normal low.

47, age of Haverford man convicted on all charges in the sexual abuse of a 10-year-old girl.

185 students who have fallen ill with a stomach ailment at Ursinus College.

5 billion dollar pricetag put on needed repairs for Philly schools.

20 million dollars, what that ‘brownout’ policy for staffing Philly fire houses cost the city. Mayor Jim Kenney yesterday ended the process.

53-foot equipment truck that will carry all sorts of goodies the Phillies need for spring training. It will depart Citizens Bank Park around noon.

15 cases of gum.

12 cases of sunflower seeds.

250 batting practice jerseys.

300 batting helmets.

450 pairs of socks

600 hats

1,200 bats

10,000 12-ounce cups

15,000 baseballs.

5-1 win for the Flyers over the Sabres last night.

3 game losing streak snapped.

50-game goal-less drought broken by R.J. Umberger.

41 saves for Steve Mason.

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

The truck carrying the Phillies spring training gear leaves Citizens Bank Park for Clearwater later today. Spring can’t be far behind.

I Don’t Get It: 2 degrees for the low on Sunday. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Boss. Bruce Springsteen is in town tonight for a sold-out show at the Wells Fargo Center. He will be performing his famous ‘River’ LP in its entirety.

Quote Box: “You don’t have to be a kid to decorate a cookie.”

- Mary Bear Shannon, of the Valentine’s Day weekend at Haverford Township Library.

A Lenten sacrifice for 2 local parishes

There will be some antsy folks in the pews at two local Catholic churches this weekend.

And it has nothing to do trying to keep those Lenten sacrifices.

This sacrifice hits a little closer to the heart.

They will be hoping their beloved parishes are sacrificed.

Last week parishioners at Sacred Heart in Clifton Heights and Saint Charles Borromeo in the Drexel Hill section of Upper Darby learned they will be the the latest to undergo what is referred as the Pastoral Planning Initiative. They will form committees and draw up a sustainability self-study that will be submitted to the archdiocese.

Eventually, it will be up to Archbishop Charles Chaput to decide their fate.

They expect to hear word by June. They could remain independent, merged with another parish or see the doors close.

It is not an easy experience. It's a test of faith.

They are not the first to undergo the process. They will not be the last.

Here's our editorial on this latest sign of the struggles of the church, particularly in the eastern end of the county.

Cold hearts for Valentine's Weekend

Mother Nature surely has a cold heart.

Why else we should unleash what is being called the 'Valentine Vortex' on us.

When my bottom his the seat in my car early this morning, my handy-dandy odometer thermometer (say that three times real fast) was registering a brisk 11 degrees.

We're about to get a direct hit from a huge Siberian Express that is engulfing a large part of the country.

Suffice it to say that going outside this weekend will chill the hearts of Valentines everywhere.

You can get the full AccuWeather forecast here.

We're expecting highs both Saturday and Sunday in the teens. Sunday morning our low temperature will be in the single digits, one of the coldest days in years. The record low temperature for Sunday is 2 degrees set back in 1979. We could give that a run for its money. The normal high is 42; the normal low 27.

Highs for the weekend won't get out of the teens. That's about 20 degrees or so below our normal highs.

And if that's not enough, we're staring at another chance of snow late Monday into Tuesday, which could morph into the dreaded change over to ice before it becomes all rain. Can you say power outages?

Then, oddly enough, we'll get a warm-up to near 50 at mid-week.

Need something to warm your heart?

How about this: The Phillies will be loading the trucks down at Citizens Bank Park this morning, and then take off for Clearwater, Fla., and the start of Spring Training.

Spring can't be far behind.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A 'Justified' police shooting

What I found most interesting from yesterday's press conference by District Attorney Jack Whelan on the fatal police-involved shooting in Chester was not the ruling that it was 'justified,' but what that ruling was based on.

IF you haven't noticed, police shootings are under a microscope these days.

So eyebrows were raised when word started to spread about the Chester shooting, which followed a high-speed chase that started in Upland Borough and ended up on a quiet residential street in the city.

That's when police and Whelan say Shalamar Longer, 33, flashed a gun and pointed it at police officers. He never had a chance to fire a shot.

Officers opened fire on Longer, with as many as 50 to 100 bullets flying.

Whelan indicated yesterday that Longer, who had a lengthy criminal record and just recently was out of jail on parole, had no intention of going back to prison.

And Whelan said they got that information from the man who was sitting next to Longer. That would be his cousin Asmar, 23. Asmar was wounded in the incident. He is not facing any charges.

Whelan said Asmar, who fled the vehicle and was wounded in the gunfire, cooperated with officials and told them his cousin had no intention of going back to jail.

"That speaks volumes, that hes not going back to jail," Whelan said at yesterday's press conference at county CID headquarters in the Media Courthouse. "The reasonable interpretation is that, 'I'm going to do whatever I can not to go back to jail, including killing police officers.'"

I am guessing family and friends of Shalamar Longer might see it another way, or might question the amount of force used in the situation, but it's hard to argue with where that information came from.

Groundhog Day, Harrisburg style

Bill Murray's got nothing on our own Tom Wolf.

That was the governor in Harrisburg on Monday starring in his own version of 'Groundhog Day.' Forget Punxsutawney Phil. Tom Wolf emerged from his governor's mansion burrow, saw his shadow, and immediately predicted six more weeks of budget gridlock - at least.

Actually, what the governor did was present his second budget plan.

He apparently managed to do this with a straight face, seeing as how he has yet to get Republicans in the state House and Senate to agree on his first spending plan for the state.

Wolf believes Pennsylvania is facing severe problems, and he wants a lot more revenue to fix them. To do that, of course, he will need to raise taxes.

Republicans, coming off four years of on-time, no-tax-hike budgets crafted by former Gov. Tom Corbett, have turned up their noses at Wolf's spendthrift ways.

Not surprisingly, they were less than thrilled with Round Two of the Harrisburg budget follies.

The governor again is calling for a hike in the state personal income tax. He again is calling for a new tax on Marcellus Shale. While he is not looking for an increase in the 6 percent sales tax, he does want to tack it on to a lot more services, including your cable TV bill. Smokers aren't as lucky. They're getting burned again with a whopping dollar hike in the cigarette tax.

You can read all the details of the Wolf plan here.

But what stood out Tuesday is the tone the governor took.

He chided Republicans for failing to do their job, and suggested if they were not willing to work with him on a spending plan, they should seek employment elsewhere.

As you might guess, Republicans were less than enamored with his approach.

One went so far as to say talks reverted to where they were last summer.

In other words, don't look for a budget accord - either for Year 1 or Year 2 - anytime soon.

Welcome to Groundhog Day, the Harrisburg edition.

The two sides of Shady

This is the anomaly that is LeSean McCoy.

I can't remember a player I've enjoyed more on the field - and who ticked me off more off of it.

On the field, McCoy is electric. He made Eagles games special, in part because he was a threat to take it to the house every time he touched the ball. But it was the way he did it, with dazzling moves that often left defenders grasping at air, that made him special. His game in the snow vs. the Lions, rushing for 217 yards and touchdown runs of 57 and 40 yards, will forever be burned in my memory. Usually such games, played in near-blizzard like conditions with several inches of snow on the field blurring the yard markers and field making footing next to impossible, turn into slapstick, with players merely trying to remain upright.

Not McCoy. He seemed to be playing at another level, oblivious to the conditions, zigging, zagging and leaping over the helpless Lions. Everyone else was in the snow, McCoy simply was in his element.

That's on the field. Off the field, unfortunately, McCoy too often lived up to his nickname.

Shady.

There was the Twitter war with a woman, and reports that he tossed another woman off a tour bus.

There was the now-infamous 20-cent tip he left on a $60 tab at a local burger joint.

Now he's the focus of a probe into a brawl at a Philly nightspot early Sunday morning. Two off-duty police officers suffered serious injuries.

Most people believe McCoy is going to be charged in the incident.

McCoy was traded to Buffalo last off-season in a deal for linebacker Kiko Alonso and played this year for the Bills.

Obviously, he still likes to hang out in Philadelphia.

I like the memories McCoy provided on the field.

But I can't get all that off-the-field stuff out of my head.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday Feb. 10

The Daily Numbers: 30 foot waves and 80 mph gusts that battered the Anthem of the Seas during a cruise off the coast of North Carolina. A Delco woman described the ordeal on the ship.

24-1 vote by the Upper Darby Democratic Committee to support challenger Sekela Coles over incumbent state Rep. Margo Davidson in the 164th state House race.

45 to 120 months in prison for a man who wielded an ax during a robbery of the Wawa in Upper Chichester.

1 person killed in hit-run in Chester Tuesday morning.

1 person taken into custody by a SWAT unit yesterday in Collingdale.

33.3 billion dollar budget plan rolled out by Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf yesterday.

0 budgets he and the Legislature have been able to pass so far.

7 months overdue, that would be his first budget effort.

4.3 billion dollar increase in spending from the last budget adopted in Pa.

14 percent increase in spending.

3 billion dollars in increased taxes under the Wolf plan.

11 percent hike in the state income tax, from current 3.07 percent to 3.4 percent.

1.4 billion dollars raised by the income tax hike.

6 percent sales tax would say the same, but would be applied to more services, such as cable TV and movie theater tickets.

2.60 a pack cigarette tax. That’s up from $1.60. It would raise $468 million.

6.5 percent new tax on natural gas production. That would generate $218 million, Wolf says.

0.5 percent surcharge on many insurance premiums, including fire, property and casualty insurance.

8 percent tax on promotional plays at state casinos. That would generate $51 million.

565 million dollars for education, that’s 2-year increase of 10 percent, to $6.3 billion.

90 million dollar boost for early childhood education.

70 million dollar boost for special education.

5 percent boost in aid to higher education, to $1.7 billion.

3 straight loss for the Flyers.

4-1 blowout to the Ducks last night.

50th anniversary of the Orange and Black. Kudos to Chairman Ed Snider.

86-59 win for No. 1 ranked Villanova over DePaul in their first game since taking the top spot in the polls.

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

Tom Wolf must be an Eagles fan. Ever the optimist.

I Don’t Get It: I’m not sure if I was Wolf I would have snarled quite that much at the Republicans in the Legislature. Not exactly going to help what are going to be very tough negotiations.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to residents who continue to pack meetings in Marple with concerns about the proposed Cardinal Crossing development at the site of the former Don Guanella School. But they should temper the allegations being made against commissioners and the developer. That’s not helping.

Quote Box: “It was a terrifying experience and at several points the ship moved so severely to one side, I really thought the ship was going to lose control and topple into the sea.”

- Edgmont resident Emily Harris, on her ordeal aboard the Anthem of the Seas cruise ship, which was rocked by rough weather in the Atlantic.

Welcome to Lent

If I dug deep enough into one of my closets, I'm sure I could probably turn up one of those Rice Bowls that I started every year as a kid. The idea always was to toss your spare change into the Rice Bowl as a Lenten sacrifice. At the conclusion of the 40 days of penitence and self-reflection, you would turn in the Rice Bowl to fund charity projects for needy kids across the globe.

I would start a Rice Bowl every year. I'm not sure I ever actually finished one.

Inevitably, my 'penitence' instead would make its way into my pocket, and toward a penny candy run at Fling's store.

Ask your parents, kids. Yes, there was once a time when you could buy candy for a penny a piece.

Welcome to Lent.

Christians today will be reminded that we are indeed human, that we were created from dust, and to the dust we will return. It's pretty depressing stuff.

We commemorate this idea by having ashes placed on our forehead in the sign of the cross.

Today, that does not bother me a bit. But as a kid, the idea struck me as odd. It struck many of my friends as even odder, as they wondered what that smudge was on my forehead.

It was bad enough that had to walk home every day wearing my blue slacks, white shirt and blue Assumption Blessed Virgin Mary clip-on tie. Now I just knew every one of my friends was stared at my forehead.

The tradition of Lent has changed a bit over the years. Instead of giving something up, we now are encourage to instead be proactive, to do something.

I'm old school. I don't especially like change. I will continue to make my Lenten sacrifices.

There was a time when I would give up alcohol during Lent.

Then I came to my senses and limited it to beer. I rarely drink during the week, but I can tell you that when I get home Friday night the very first thing I do is grab a beer from the fridge. A small celebration that I have survived another week. But a funny thing happened. These days, especially in the winter, I probably drink more wine than beer. And I'm not about to give that up.

Actually, if I was really serious about this, I would attempt to give up coffee. But that undoubtedly would not end well. My guess is the building would wind up surrounded by a SWAT team trying to talk the editor - who hopefully was not armed - down off the roof.

I am a coffee addict. So I quickly came to my senses and realized trying to give that up would be fruitless.

So I will once again fall back on what has become my Lenten standards.

I will once again attempt to refrain from cursing.

I have what you could describe as a 'colorful' vocabulary. The women out in our front office, who often cover their ears after editor's latest outburst, likely would characterize it a bit differently. Especially when they are profusely apologizing to some visitor at the front desk as the profane bellowing showers down upon them.

It's not something I am proud of. Look, I am someone who works with words for a living. I can tell you that cursing is the lazy man's resort. I am all too familiar with the world's most useful four-letter word. I think I have used it in almost every possible way. I am sure the good Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary would be embarrassed for me, and no doubt would be more than happy to remind me - with their trust gold ruler - of the error of my ways.

If past years hold true, this latest quest will last a few hours, until the next time this #$%^%&*( computer eats one of my columns or blogs. That doesn't count, by the way. It's only computerese.

As a backup plan, I will fall back on something that I developed - and regretted - last year.

My eating habits are not the best. Candy and sweets, those confections that everyone was busy slamming down their gullet yesterday on Fat Tuesday, are not my vice of choice.

Salt is.

Specifically, potato chips.

I blame Ed Herr. Yes, that guy on the billboards was a childhood friend. We went to school together. How old am I? I remember when Herr's, which now occupies an entire "campus" out in Nottingham in Chester County, was run out of his dad's garage. We used to snag hot chips literally as they came out of the oven.

I've been eating them ever since.

But not for the next 40 days.

That will make my wife happy. She is the one who chides me for one particularly nasty habit. Upon arriving home, I make a beeline for the drawer where the Herr's bag awaits. I don't even bother to take off my coat. I just dig right in, up to my elbow in greasy, salty delights.

For some reason, I do not put on weight, and my blood pressure does not go through the roof.

Last night when I got home, as usual I started to inhale another bag. And because I'm a sick person, I left a few in the bag and put in back in the drawer, from where it can tempt me for the next 40 days.

Pray for me.

It's enough to make me start cursing again.