Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A special Memorial Day celebration in Springfield

Frank Holloway II never met Frank Holloway the first.

That would have been his father.

The younger Frank was born after his father went missing in Korea in January 1953. The soldier was declared killed in action in 1954. Yesterday Frank Holloway II and several members of the extended Holloway family returned to his father's home town of Springfield to see his dad honored as part of the town's annual Memorial Day celebration.

It is the story we focused on this Memorial Day.

You can read it here.

The war being waged on Delco's streets

I used my weekly print column Monday - Memorial Day - to talk about war.

But probably not the war you might have expected.

I am always leery when it comes to writing about soldiers and all things military. The truth is I was one of the lucky ones - I was never called to serve, and I did not volunteer.

Monday is the day set aside to honor those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.

But there is another war - and all too many victims - being waged every day on our streets.

I am tired of writing stories like the ones we did last week on Zenas Powell. He's the 14-year-old who was the latest innocent bystander to become a victim of the war being waged on Chester's mean streets.

I mean no dishonor to veterans and those killed in service to their country.

At the same time, I don't want anyone to forget Zenas Powell, and the other young lives being snuffed out every day.

You can read my column here.

Phils coming back to Earth

It looks like the Phillies are about to turn back into pumpkins.

A week ago I wrote how we were about to find out if the Phils were for real, as they faced the tall task of 12 of their next 16 games against the first-place Cubs and Nats.

They haven't won since.

The Phils got swept in ugly fashion in Chicago, Then they returned home last night only to waste a great outing from Jeremy Hellickson with an uncharacteristic meltdown by their bullpen.

That's now four straight losses after they managed to eke out the final game of that three-game set in Detroit.

It looks like the Phils are returning to Earth - with a thud. Losing six of your last seven games will do that.

They continue to struggle mightily offensively.

Last night reliever Hector Neris, who has been one of the standouts at the back end of games, allowed three runs as the Nats roared back to win, 4-3.

Then there is the Ryan Howard dilemma.

My rule with Howard, as it was with Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley is simple. Don't hold your breath waiting for me to boo them.

The reason is simple. They gave us a parade.

Still, Mackanin continues to move away from his struggling first baseman. Sunday Tommy Joseph got the start, despite the fact that a right-handed pitcher was on the hill for the Cubs.

Yesterday, back at Citizens Bank Park, Howard was back in the starting lineup against another right-hander. Howard went 1-for-4 and is now hitting an anemic .157.

It likely will cost the Phillies $10 million to part ways with the one-time All-Star slugger first baseman. It might be approaching that time.

Just as the clock appears to be striking midnight, and the Cinderella story of the Phils turns back into a pumpkin.

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, May 31

The Daily Numbers: 1953, when Frank Holloway went missing in Korea.

1954, when he was declared killed in action.

3 armed men who invaded a home in Prospect Park Monday night.

3,000 dollar reward now being offered for information on 2 burned dogs found in bag on Chester street.

6 Delaware County athletes who will take part in the Transplant Games.

29, age of Chester woman believed by police to be responsible for a crime wave in Delaware, along with her boyfriend.

58, age of Chadds Ford man killed in car crash in Delaware.

70 to 75, age of mandatory retirement for Pa. judges, under a measure being pushed.

6 decades of music for Delco legend Charlie Gracie.

67, age of man who apparently drowned while trying to save his dog from creek in Philly.

4, age of child attacked by 4 dogs in North Philadelphia.

4-3 loss for the Phils to the Nats last night.

6 losses in last 7 games for the Phillies.

.157 for Ryan Howard, who went 1 for 4 yesterday.

3-1 deficit overcome by Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, who beat the OKC Thunder last night in Game 7 to advance to NBA Finals vs. LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

1-0 lead in Stanley Cup finals for the Penguins, who beat the Sharks last night.

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

Don’t look now but the Philllies’ Cinderella story is turning back into a pumpkin.

I Don’t Get It: I would hardly consider Monday a washout, unless you were at the shore. After overnight downpours, we barely got any rain at all on Monday, but lots of Memorial Day celebrations were still scrapped.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Springfield for honoring the Holloway family, a well-deserved honor.

Quote Box: “He didn’t have a very long life. I always wondered what he was like.”

- Frank Holloway II, on his dad Frank, who was killed in action in the Korean War, before Frank II was born.

Friday, May 27, 2016

A look at violence in Chester - from someone who knows it too well

We spend a lot of time writing and describing the violence that takes place in the city of Chester.

Janene Shipley knows all about it.

She lives with it every day.

She took a bullet in her shoulder in the Saturday night hail of gunfire that snuffed out the life of 14-year-old Zenas Powell.

Shipley lives in Highland Gardens, which is often seen as ground zero for Chester's problems with guns and drugs.

She wants nothing more than to get out of the city.

And she's not the least bit reserved in how she feels about those responsible for the violence.

This week she sat down with reporter Rose Quinn to talk about Saturday night's incident and what life is like in Highland Gardens and the city of Chester.

It's an eye-opener.

You can read it here.

An outside look at the Chester Police Department

When he was running for his city's top office, Thaddeus Kirkland made it pretty clear that he was not a fan of the way things were being run by the Chester Police Department.

He had harsh words for both then-Mayor John Linder and his top cop, Joe Bail. In Kirkland's view, they were out of touch with the community, leading to a distrust of the department out on the streets.

It was one of the things Kirkland vowed to change.

It didn't take him long after taking office to do just that. He put Darren Alston back into the spot he once held - before being demoted by Linder - as police commission.

He also vowed that the department would be more transparent, and have better interactions with the community.

The city took a big step in that direction yesterday when it was announced that the federal Department of Justice would undertake a thorough review of the city department.

The review was instigated by several police-involved shootings that had draw questions and criticism from the community. Alston asked the DOJ's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services - known as COPS - to perform a comprehensive review of the department.

They will specifically concentrate on five areas: police-involved shootings; community policing and trust-building; training and employee development; data collection; and crime analysis.

One thing became increasingly clear at yesterday's press conference.

This is not going to some some kind of cursory, insider look at the department. These are outsiders who age going to poke around, identify deficiencies, and suggest changes.

That's a good thing.

You can get all the details here.

The Daily Numbers for Friday, May 27

The Daily Numbers: 1 man taken into custody after a standoff last night with Springfield police and a SWAT team in which he is believed to have fired several shots at officers.

0 injuries reported in the incident.

4 hours, how long the man was barricaded in his home on Hillview Drive.

600,000 dollars being spent on a review of the Chester Police Department by the federal Department of Justice.

5, age of Springfield resident Ryan Natow, who raised $115 for his local volunteer fire department.

93 million dollar budget that got the green light by Radnor School Board.

3.6 percent tax hike that will be included in the spending plan.

735,000 dollar shortfall remains to be whittled down.

30-acre reserve known as Taylor Memorial Arboretum in Nether Provide acquired by Widener University.

12-8 win for Radnor girls to capture District 1 lacrosse crown.

2-1 win for the Penguins to advance to the Stanley Cup finals. They’ll face the Sharks.

120-111 win for Golden State to stay alive in their series vs. Oklahoma City Thunder.

31 points for Steph Curry. Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Anyone remember the Flyers? Yes, they’re still playing hockey. The finals are now set. Just seems like a long time since we saw the Flyers on the ice.

I Don’t Get It: Janene Shipley puts an entirely different look at what it’s like to live with violence in Chester.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Ryan Natow. The 5-year-old donated the $115 he received for his birthday to the local township volunteer fire department.

Quote Box: “In Chester, we are under attack.”

- Janene Shipley, shooting victim and Highland Gardens resident.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Two views of Chester

I have said many times that it is very easy in this job to present a skewed image of a community in the newspaper.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the city of Chester.

Simply put, it has not been an especially good couple of days in the city.

We continue to mourn the loss of Zenas Powell, the 14-year-old caught last Saturday night in a hail of bullets that were meant for someone else. There have been no arrests in that case.

Meanwhile, the city did record its 10th homicide, and also saw a former star on the Chester High basketball team charged in another murder. Erikk Wright was voted to the All-Delco basketball team, a key member of the undefeated 2012 Clipper team.

But there are other stories in the city, ones that offer another image of the city - and its young people.

That's why I had a reporter back in Chester yesterday to do a story on some very special honors for a group of students at Chester High and the STEM Academy.

Yes, they also appeared on our front page.

I very likely will continue to struggle with this idea of how many towns in the county, and the young people who live in them, are portrayed in the paper.

I would be lying if I denied that many - if not most - of those stories would be considered negative in nature. That's the nature of the beast, and what I do.

But it's not ALL I do, and it's not all this newspaper does every day.

By the way, we'll be back in Chester this afternoon for a press conference with city officials, the police department brass and representatives from the Department of Justice. The feds have been invited to Chester to review police procedures in the wake of several police-involved shootings.

Yes, that's also part of covering the city.

Fair Funding Formula a 'giant' step for Harrisburg

We like to poke fun at the folks who represent us in Harrisburg in this space.

Hey, they don't call Pennsylvania - the place where our governor and Legislature butted heads over a spending plan for nine months - the "Land of Giants" for no reason.

But something very important happened yesterday in the state capital.

It's called a fair funding formula for education.

Pennsylvania, unfortunately, was one of three states in the nation, that did not utilize one in dispersing funds to local school districts.

Not anymore.

Yesterday the state House approved a measure that would make the fair funding formula that was suggested by a bi-partisan Basic Education Funding Commission permanent, part of the Pennsylvania School Code.

The new formula will take into crucial elements such as enrollment, special education needs of the district, the economic condition of the community and the capacity to raise revenue.

The measure now goes to Gov. Tom Wolf, who has indicated he will sign it.

If you don't think this is important, you should talk to the people in Upper Darby, William Penn and Interboro School districts. In Upper Darby, they are tightening their belts and not raising taxes, despite looking at a deficit in the neighborhood of $6.5 million.

That likely won't be the case in William Penn, where they are staring at a tax hike despite also tapping into their fund balance. And things are even worse in Interboro, where the school board is looking at a decidedly unpopular mix of raising taxes and slashing jobs.

We used our editorial page today to lay out the case for the fair funding formula, and the hope that Gov. Wolf doesn't waste any time in signing it.

For Harrisburg, this was indeed a 'giant' step

Crunch time for the Phillies

It's crunch time for the Phillies.

After they managed to escape Motown and avoid a sweep by the Tigers with a 8-5 win, we're about to find out if this team - which has clearly surpassed everyone's expectations - is for real.

The Phillies now face a string of 12 games against the Cubs and Washington. They are in the Windy City for three games at Wrigley with the NL Central leaders.

They they head home, where the NL East-leading Nats will be waiting for them. After squeezing in four games with Milwaukee, they face three more vs. the Cubs, before hustling down I-95 for three more with the Nats.

That's 12 games against what may be the two best teams in baseball in the next two weeks. The Cubs are a lusty 31-14, the best record in baseball. The Nationals are 28-19. Meanwhile the surprise team in baseball this year, the Phils, are hanging in there at 26-21, just two games back of Washington

So what do you think would be a good outcome from this crucial span.

I'll put the over/under at .500 I'm taking the under.

And I'll keep my fingers crossed that they do better.

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, May 26

The Daily Numbers: 15 years probation for an Upper Darby man who entered a guilty plea for stalking a local TV personality.

29 Chester students who received honors as part of the city’s Seeds of Excellence Awards.

81, age of man who saw charges against him dropped in connection with a standoff with police.

18, age of teen being sought in connection with a shot fired on a crowded Upper Darby playground.

11 SEPTA regional rail stations that will be hooking up with Uber this summer to offer discounted rides.

40 percent discount for riders using Uber to get to the train stations, where parking is often at a premium.

9 licenses that got the green light from the Pa. LCB for gas stations to be able to sell beer.

2 recent police-involved shootings that have sparked a federal review of operations in the Chester Police Department.

5,000 calls for help received each month by Chester police, about 150 a day.

1 employee shot during a robbery of a restaurant in Claymont last night.

15,000 dollars or more being offered to Penn State students to go to a satellite campus as opposed to main campus in State College.

2 people facing charges now in the OD death of a woman doctor after a night of partying in New York City.

0.10 blood alcohol level in a DUI offense that will now mean mandatory use of an ignition interlock device in Pa.

78,000 attempts to drive drunk stopped by the devices, according to MADD.

8-5 win for the Phils to avoid a sweep in Detroit.

12 games in the next 2 weeks against the Cubs and Nats.

31 of July, that’s date of 1st Eagles training camp session that will be open to public.

2-2 draw for the Union against Orlando.

6 game unbeaten streak for the team that plays in Chester.

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

We’re about to find out if this Phillies team is for real. They have 12 games against the 2 best teams in baseball, the Cubs and Nats, in the next 2 weeks. I think .500 ball over that span would be a huge step up for this offensively challenged team.

I Don’t Get It: A guy enters a plea for stalking, gets 15 years probation, and tells the court he has no intention of stopping the actions he just pleaded guilty to in the first place.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those kids who received awards in Chester yesterday. Yes, there are lots of good stories in the city.

Quote Box: “I’m not going to give it up. I want to be with her. I’m the only person who can protect her.”

- Chris Nilan, in court yesterday to plead to stalking charges involving a local TV news personality.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Brace yourself for Beer Wars

Brace yourself for Beer Wars.

Count me in.

Yesterday Gov. Tom Wolf weighed in on one of the state's longest lasting 'brew'-hahas. That would be the archaic way Pennsylvania handles the sale of alcohol.

That, of course, falls under the purview of the state Liquor Control Board, which has set up a maze of different hoops people in this state have to jump through to buy booze.

Yesterday Wolf supported the notion of allowing gas stations to sell six-packs of beer.

Can you say Wawa?

The Delco-based convenience store chain is in the business of setting up an area in one store - out on Naamans Creek Road in Concord - for beer sales.

But state law currently bans the sale of alcohol at any location "where the sale of liquid fuels or oil is conducted."

Sheetz, the Wawa of the convenience store world in the middle part of the state, is challenging that ruling in a location concerning a store in Shippensburg.

They're not the only interested parties. The state Malt Beverage Distributors Association, which represents private beer distributors, opposes the measure. One court backed the PLCB's ban on sales at gas stations, but the matter now sits with the state Supreme Court. The PLCB is currently in the process of weighing nine other applications.

Wolf is urging them to "free the six-pack"

Imagine that, being able to duck into your local convenience store on the way home to grab a cold six-pack.

Ask anyone who lives in another state about our laws.

They think we're living in the Dark Ages.

I'm not sure they're wrong.

In another lifetime, I lived for a few years in Colorado. In the supermarkets there, you had several aisles of the store devoted to anything you might want - beer, wine, or liquor. And you put it in your cart and pay for it with all the rest of your groceries.

Every 7-Eleven had a cold case where you could grab a six-pack. In West Virginia, where my son lives, every Sheetz store has the same thing.

But here in Pennsylvania? Let's review.

Beer? You want a six-pack. You have to go to your local deli or tavern and likely pay through the nose. Or a supermarket that has beer sales. But you can't pay for it along with the rest of your groceries. That's a separate part of the store.

So much for convenience.

You want a case, instead of a six-pack? That's another trip, this time to the beer distributor. He can't sell you a six-pack by the way, but he can now offer a 12-pack.

A bottle of wine for dinner? That means a third trip, to your friendly state store. But you can't buy beer there.

I have long been a proponent of Pennsylvania getting out of the booze business.

I understand it means revenue and jobs.

I also think the state has no business sticking its nose into what is really private enterprise.

But I don't expect it to change anytime soon, despite seemingly constant attempts to change the system in Harrisburg.

My offers still stands. The day they are finally going to blow up this system and turn the whole thing over to private enterprise - can you say Total Wine? - I'm available to push the plunger.

Good to their word in Upper Darby

The Upper Darby School Board was good to its word.

Last week they rolled out a $189 million dollar budget that did something school board members are always talking about - but very rarely ever actually do.

That would be holding the line on taxes.

After several years of property tax hikes, Upper Darby this year decided to bite the bullet and not raise taxes.

Tuesday night the school board gave preliminary approval to the plan.

You can get all the details here.

It's not as if the district is flush with money. In fact, they are staring at a $6.5 million deficit.

But instead of simply reaching into home owners' wallets, the school board instead will tap into their fund balance, and keep their fingers crossed that an expected uptick in revenue holds up.

Officials made clear that this is a "one-time opportunity" to provide relief to local taxpayers.

We hear that. Aside from crime, property taxes without question generate the most complaints we hear from residents.

This is where the Legislature should step in and take action.

Unfortunately, they don't exactly see eye-to-eye with Gov. Tom Wolf when it comes to spending, in particular the Democratic governor's plan for a huge increase in education spending, and the hefty tax hike to pay for it.

We don't expect that is going to change anytime soon. The two sides are about to start up the budget negotiations again. As usual, they face a July 1 deadline to have a spending plan in place. And as usual, most people expect them to blow right by that deadline. Last year the standoff dragged on for nine months.

There is something the Legislature can do in the meantime.

They can make permanent the fair funding formula suggested by a Basic Education Funding Commission.

Today, on our op-ed page, we hear two voices in favor of just such a move.

Larry Feinberg is a longtime member of the Haverford School Board. He's also the founder and co-chairman of the Keystone State Education Coalition.

He knows his stuff. And he knows the state - one of only three in the nation that does not have a statewide funding formula - has been lax in this area for far too long.

Also joining in the calls for making the measure permanent is newly minted state Sen. Tom Killion, R-9.

It's time. Pennsylvania has operated in the dark ages in terms of education funding long enough.

Just ask the folks in William Penn and Interboro. They also are struggling with red ink there, but it's likely they instead will again be enacting tax hikes, job cuts, or both.

The residents of Upper Darby dodged a bullet. But that light at the end of the tunnel is actually a train.

It's up to the Legislature to derail this annual funding debacle.

Still no answer to who shot Zenas Powell

In Chester, the question remains the same: Who fired the shots that killed 14-year-old Zenas Powell.

It's the question that has possessed police - and much of the city - since gunfire rang out Saturday night, hitting Powell, his 16-year-old cousin Quamar, and another woman.

Police believe they were innocent bystanders, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The hunt for suspects goes on.

In the meantime, the community is rallying around the Powell family. That includes his "school family."

Zenas attended Chester Community Charter School.

The school's founder, Vahan Gureghian, and his wife, Danielle, are picking up the tab for Zenas' funeral expenses. They also have matched the $5,000 reward being offered by the city for information in the case.

It's fair to say that this newspaper has not always seen eye to eye with Vahan Gureghian. We have often questioned operations at Chester Community Charter, the largest charter school in the state, and its effect on the Chester Upland School District. Roughly half of the kids in Chester now attend Chester Community Charter. We have gone to court in an effort to get Gureghian to open his books about the school's operation. Gureghian has steadfastly argued that as a private entity he is not required to do so.

As I said, we've had our disagreements before.

Not now.

A school has a special relationship with its students. Its clear from the reaction that Powell's tragic loss has deeply affected those at the school. That includes Gureghian.

What he is doing is a good thing.

What is happening elsewhere in Chester is not.

The Powell case was barely 48 hours old when Chester recorded its next homicide.

Police say a man was gunned down Monday night in the 11 block of Carla Lane in the Ruth L. Bennett Homes.

There have been no arrests in that case either.

It marks the 11th homicide this year in Chester.

The city's sad saga continues.

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, May 25

The Daily Numbers: 85, expected high today, with lots of sun. Ahhhhhh!

0 tax hike in the budget given preliminary OK in Upper Darby last night.

189 million dollar spending plan.

6.5 million dollar deficit.

2 million dollars being tapped from district’s fund balance.

3,521, tax bill for average Upper Darby home assessed at $100,000.

94 million dollar budget in William Penn. They likely are looking at a tax hike.

4.5 million dollar shortfall.

2.5 million being used from their fund balance.

541,660 shortfall in the Radnor School District budget

6,682 in casino winnings police say a man stole from a woman in Secane after he followed her home. He was arrested and she got the money back.

11th homicide recorded in Chester Monday night.

2 people now facing charges on May 2.

22, age of Erikk Wright, a former All-Delco hoops player at Chester High, who has been charged in the fatal shooting.

1 person struck and killed by a train on the Market-Frankford Line at the 13th Street station.

6 packs of beer at gas stations. That’s what Gov. Tom Wolf came out in favor of yesterday.

3-1 loss for Phils to Tigers.

2 straight losses and 4 of last 5 for the Phils.

10 strikeouts for Tigers’ pitcher Justin Verlander in 8 scoreless innings.

8 of 9 won by Tigers after losing 11 of 12 earlier this season.

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

The Phillies continue to be betrayed by their impotent bats.

I Don’t Get It: Has anyone ever suffered a more precipitous fall than Bill Cosby. This was Cliff Huxtable. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Upper Darby School Board. Good to their word, they held the line on taxes. At least for now.

Quote Box: “I don’t want to raise taxes ... but I’m seriously concerned about providing a thorough and efficient system of education and advocating to our state when we’re about to say we have enough.”

- Upper Darby School Board Member Heather Boyd.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

We can't keep losing kids like Zenas Powell

As usual, it is the photo that grabs you by the throat.

And twists that knot in your stomach.

The photo that graces today's front page is of a beaming Zenas Powell. It captures the 14-year-old decked out in his finest last Friday night as he headed off to his eighth-grade formal. He's wearing a dapper blue shirt, dark vest and smart bow tie, along with a 1,000-watt smile.

Just 24 hours later, the teen was dead, the latest victim of the senseless gun violence that continues to grip Chester in its deadly tentacles.

While his family searches for answers, the police are searching for suspects.

On our editorial page today, we again take up the issue of violence in Chester, as well as any number of other Delaware County towns. I don't expect everyone to agree with the opinion stated there.

It seems pretty simple. There are too many guns on our streets, in the hands of too many people who should not have them. The answer to gun violence is not going to be found in Harrisburg, nor in Washington, D.C.

It's going to be found on the streets of Chester, Upper Darby, Darby Borough and every other town that battles this problem. It's almost beyond belief that the smiling countenance of Zenas Powell the jumps off that front page today could be so easily and quickly snuffed out.

Maybe the first step is to simply talk about it.

Nothing else seems to be working.

Why do I say that. Police in Chester are investigating another fatal shooting in Chester that took place Monday night. That's right, another life lost just about 48 hours after Powell was gunned down.

Maybe someone smarter than me has a solution for this.

I know this. I'm getting tired of seeing great young faces like that of Zenas Powell snuffed out in an instant.

Another packed house awaits budget vote tonight in Upper Darby

That sigh of relief you hear in Upper Darby tonight likely will be coming from the area of the high school.

The school board is expected to vote tonight on the budget plan they first unveiled last week.

Despite a hefty deficit, the board is vowing to hold the line on taxes. Instead of reaching into residents' wallets with still another increase in local property taxes, the board instead will tap their fund balance to the tune of $6.5 million. That along with a hoped-for increase in revenue will allow the board to keep the current tax rate.

Officials make it clear this is a "one-time only" deal. Without help from Harrisburg, property owners likely will be looking at an increase in the future. But at least for this year, they are avoiding a tax hike.

The meeting starts at 6:30. After several committee meetings, the board is expected to hear public comments on the budget and then offer their preliminary vote. It will not become final until a board vote in June.

You can get all the details here.

Mackanin sends Herrera, Phils a message

The more you see of Pete Mackanin, the more you have to like him.

Nobody expected the Phillies to be where they are, with a 25-20 record, just two games behind the first-place Washington Nationals in the NL East.

Most preseason predictions pegged the Phils to be one of the worst teams in baseball.

The best person in Mackanin's lineup has been Odubel Herrera, who has taken command of the leadoff position and is a constant on-base threat. Last night he went 3-for-4 to raise his lusty batting average to .335.

But he also did something else in what would become a disappointing 5-4 loss in the series opener with the Tigers in Detroit.

In the seventh inning, Herrera, who has been battling some bumps and bruises, failed to run out a grounder.

It did not escape Mackanin's notice.

He promptly pulled his best player.

"He knows he should've run," the skipper said after the game.

Message delivered.

Herrera likely will be back in the lineup tonight.

But for a young team just starting to tape into the potential of what they might be, Mackanin's actions stand out.

There is a right way and a wrong way to go about things. Not running out a ground ball is the wrong way.

And that will not stand with Mackanin.

That has not always been the case with the Phils.

It's nice to see for a change.

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, May 24

The Daily Numbers: 10,000 dollar reward now being offered in fatal shooting of Chester teen.

5,000 dollars put up by Vahan Gureghian, founder of Chester Community Charter School, where 14-year-old victim Zenas Powell attended classes.

1 person shot and killed on streets of Chester Monday night.

26, age of man charged in May 1 homicide in Chester.

10 homicides so far this year in Chester.

17 homicides so far this year in the county.

6.5 million dollar deficit in the Upper Darby School District budget.

0 tax hike that will be voted on tonight.

51, age of Cabrini College professor who was struck and killed while attempting to cross Lancaster Avenue in Wayne Saturday night.

19, age of teen who entered a guilty plea in a wild police chase that left 1 person injured in Glenolden.

3 people who entered guilty pleas for intimidating a witness in a Delco murder case.

63, age of woman in North Wales who faces a murder charge in the fatal shooting of her ex-husband.

2 and 4, age of kids left unattended in a Chester County home while their mother and her fiance went shopping at the local Wal-Mart.

5-4 loss for the Phils to the Tigers in the series opener in Detroit last night.

2 home runs for Miguel Cabrera.

4 solo homers total for the Tigers.

2 games back of the Nats now for the Phils.

3 hits for Odubel Herrera, who was still benched by skipper Pete Mackanin for not running out a ground out.

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

Odubel Herrera has been the best player in the Phils’ lineup. That’s why it was so impressive that Mackanin benched him for not running out that ground ball. That sends a clear message to a young team.

I Don’t Get It: About 48 hours after Zenas Powell was gunned down, Chester police are reporting another fatal shooting in the city.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Chester Community Charter School and founder Vahan Gureghian. They are paying for Powell’s funeral as well as matching the $5,000 reward in the case. Powell attended Chester Community Charter.

Quote Box: “I can’t believe something like this could happen.”

- Twitter post reacting to shooting death of Zenas Powell.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The answer to gun violence in Chester

Last week hundreds of people left Chester in buses to make the trek to Harrisburg to support a proposal that would make some commonsense changes to Pennsylvania gun laws, in particular when it comes to background checks.

It did not take long for them to realize - once again - when they arrived back home that Chester is awash in guns, many of them in the hands of people who should not have them.

Gunfire once again was heard on the streets of Chester Saturday night. This time the target apparently was a group of people in an SUV. They weren't the ones hit in the hail of bullets, however.

Two young cousins were caught in the crossfire. Police believe they were innocent bystanders.

Zenas Powell, 14, was killed. His cousin, Quamar Powell, 16, was seriously wounded and remains in critical condition at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. A third person was wounded, but luckily escaped serious injury.

There are not a lot of lucky people on the streets of Chester these days. Residents are far too used to the sounds of gunfire. What was once a rarity too often now is simply explained away as part of everyday life.

That should not be the case.

Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland again yesterday reiterated that this kind of senseless violence will not be tolerated. A $5,000 reward for information has been offered in the hopes that it will turn up information on the shooters.

I'm not sure the answer to gun violence is going to be found in Harrisburg. Sure, some of those measures being considered will help. There are simply too many guns out there, in the hands of people who should not have them.

I'm not sure that is going to change.

There is one other thing that won't change either. None of that is going to bring back Zenas Powell, the latest innocent victim of street violence in Chester.

You can read our full story on the shooting here.

Lessons in leadership and Lincoln University

I used my weekly print column today to talk about leadership.

Yeah, I know, I was wondering why a group would select me to sit down with several groups of young people to talk about leadership.

I was part of a media panel that took part in the annual Delaware County Youth Leadership Academy out at Penn State Brandywine.

I've been going to this event for several years. I always appreciate the opportunity to sit down with some of the brightest kids in Delaware County. I can assure you our future is in good hands.

I always tell them about what I consider the seminal events in my life, things that shaped who I am and what I do for a living.

That's one of the reasons I told them about Lincoln University.

Why? You can read it here.

The best sports story out there today

Forget the Phillies for a moment.

It's probably not all that hard to do after they lost a series at home to the Braves this weekend.

They're not the most important sports story out there today.

They're not even the most important baseball story.

You want a little inspiration on a Monday morning?

Meet Andrew Austen. The pitcher is leading his Radnor High baseball team into the District One Class AAA tournament. The Raiders were struggling to start the season, sporting an 0-5 mark when Austen stepped into the breech and gave the team - and its sagging pitching staff - a much-needed boost.

Andew is just like any other high school kid, except for one thing. He only has one arm. It hasn't stopped him from excelling on the field - or off it for that matter.

If you do nothing else today, make sure you read Matt DeGeorge's profile on Austen. You can't help but root for this kid.

The Daily Numbers for Monday, May 23

The Daily Numbers: 3 people shot, 1 killed on streets of Chester Saturday night.

14, age of Zenas Powell, killed in the shooting. He and his cousin Quamar, 16, are believed to be innocent bystanders.

30 bullets that police believe were fired in the incident.

5,000 dollar reward posted for information in the case.

1,600 people who use the Media/Elwyn regional rail line who likely will be boarding shuttle buses this summer when the line ends at Swarthmore going west for renovations of the Crum Creek Bridge.

915 feet long, 100 feet high for that span.

1895, when it was built.

1983, when emergency repairs were made to the span, with more done in 2002, 2013, and 2014.

55.5 million dollars in state funding for the project.

33, age of man facing charges that he took upskirt photos of several women in the county.

1 person killed, several others injured in fatal crash on Route 30 in Chester County.

21, age of coed at Penn State who was electrocuted when she grabbed a high-voltage wire when she and some friends were on the roof of their house.

67, age of man shot and killed in what police are describing as a domestic incident in North Wales.

51, age of Cabrini College professor who was struck and killed as he crossed Lancaster Avenue in Wayne.

5.8 cent per gallon hike in price at the gas pumps last week.

2 of 3 dropped by Phils to Braves over the weekend.

5-0 win yesterday to avoid being swept.

5 hits and 0 runs over 7 innings for starter Jerad Eickhoff.

5-0 score was biggest margin of victory for the Phils this year.

7 shutouts this year for Phils’ pitchers, tops in majors.

6 game road trip on tap.

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

Want to read a great, inspirational sports story today? Check out the saga of Radnor pitcher Andrew Austen. It’s a winner.

I Don’t Get It: More gun violence in Chester. More innocent victims. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Andrew Austen. He’s Delco’s very own version of the Jim Abbott story.

Quote Box: “You realize, not just in baseball but in everything else, you’ve got to teach yourself how to do things.”

- Radnor pitcher Andrew Austen, on overcoming being born with one arm.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A tale of two school districts

Call it a tale of two school districts.

Both are facing massive deficits. But they're taking different approaches to solving their financial woes.

In the Upper Darby School District, they are resisting making cuts or raising taxes in the wake of a $6.5 million shortfall.

They rolled out a spending plan this week at a packed meeting and received a standing ovation when they announced they would not hike taxes, nor would they be cutting jobs or programs.

We even went to bat on our editorial page today for the district for their efforts in not hiking the levy on property owners who have been hit with one increase after another on that bane of Pennsylvania home owners - the property tax.

Things didn't do quite so well down the road at the Interboro School District.

Once again there was a packed meeting.

But residents in Interboro learned the district is considering both cutting jobs - and raising taxes.

The district is $3 million in the red, and they say eliminating more than 20 jobs, including both teachers and support staff, along with the tax hike, still won't balance the books.

They are vowing to try to whittle the cuts before the final budget is adopted.

In the meantime, out in Harrisburg, our elected leaders are once again starting to prepare for another budget standoff.

We all know how the last one went.

But the problem remains the same. School districts - and taxpayers - are drowning in red ink.

I wonder if our leaders in Harrisburg are paying attention to what happened in Delaware Count this week.

My suggestion for a new state slogan

My one-man campaign to get Pennsylvania out of the booze business, blow up the state stores, and turn that entire operation over to private enterprise continues to spin its wheels.

Yes, I am the state's leading proponent of allowing Total Wine or some other private entity dip their feet into the waters of Pennsylvania's alcohol biz. I want to be able to grab a six-pack at Wawa. I'd love to be able to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner while I'm getting my groceries, although I don't want to have to do it in a separate part of the store. I'd like to do what people in most sane states do, put a bottle of wine or case of beer in my cart with the rest of the groceries.

Yes, I know, I'm dreaming. This is Pennsylvania, after all.

So instead I embark today on a new mission: I'd like to suggest a new state slogan:

"Welcome to Pennsylvania, world's worst weather, 365 days a year."

Granted, I'm picking the wrong day to do this. It's going to be gorgeous today, with lots of sun and highs in the mid-70s. Don't get too excited. The rain is coming back, just in time to drench our Saturday.

Yes, it's been a wet, miserable spring. It's enough to drive a man to drink. Which means, of course, that he has to drive to a state store first.

Swell. Or should that be swill?

A big asterisk on the Sixers' future

I'm happy for the Sixers. I really am.

The ping-pong balls and the basketball gods smiled on them this week, giving them the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.

A lot of people are saying this is evidence that "The Process," former GM Sam Hinkie's much-ballyhooed method of getting bad enough to garner all those high picks, was the right way to go.

I'm not so sure.

The whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Yes, I know that's the way the NBA is constructed, that it's really the only way to get back among the league's elite.

That doesn't mean I have to like it.

I don't.

I lost my interest in the Sixers over the last three years.

What they did is referred to as "tanking," losing on purpose for the sole purpose of increasing their odds of getting the top draft pick.

It was not a lot of fun to watch.

You almost have to feel sorry for Hinkie, the man who conceived this plan, only to be axed once the NBA bosses put pressure on the Sixers' owners to end the charade.

They promptly brought in the Colangelo family to run things, and the writing was on the wall for Hinkie.

Now the biggest question the Sixers face is whether to take LSU star Ben Simmons, or Duke's Brandon Ingram with that top pick.

Oh, and one other thing, just in case they ever win something.

Should their accomplishment be complete with an asterisk?

The Daily Numbers for Friday, May 20

The Daily Numbers: $3 million dollar deficit in the Interboro School District.

20-plus jobs on chopping block.

3.2 percent tax hike planned.

2.3 million dollars in savings projected.

15, age of teen charged as adult in a Chester home invasion.

16, age of missing teen Breanna Watson, who has been reunited with her family.

1,700 students who picked up diplomas from Delaware County Community College yesterday.

3 young girls all under the age of 10 who police say were sexually abused by a Chester County man.

3 people involved in an attack on a gay couple on a Philly street who are now being sued.

84, age of veteran CBS newsman and longtime ‘60 Minutes’ correspondent Morley Safer, who died yesterday, just a week after retiring.

61-year career in the news business.

2 of 3 Americans who say they would have trouble paying for an unexpected $1,000 expense.

7-5 win for Springfield over Haverford in boys lacrosse.

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

The Phils get back at it tonight, kicking off a 3-game homestand with the lowly Braves. Can you say sweep?

I Don’t Get It: They found another gun inside a school in Delco. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all the grads from Delaware County Community College who picked up diplomas yesterday.

Quote Box: “No one wants to be in this position of eliminating any staff members.”

- Interboro Schools Superintendent Bernadette Reiley

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Holding the line in Upper Darby

It's got to be one of the most thankless, unappreciated jobs out there.

Why would anyone run for their local school board.

You never hear about these people when things are going smooth. The public stays away in droves from their meetings - until they start talking about raising taxes, or cutting jobs or course offerings.

Then, suddenly, they find themselves in the crosshairs.

Especially these days in Pennsylvania, where our governor and Legislature do not exactly see eye-to-eye on spending and budget negotiations drag on for months, local school board members are left hanging in the wind, pretty much to fend for themselves when it comes to their budget.

All of which makes what happened this week in the Upper Darby School District all that much more important.

That's why it landed on our front page this morning.

Upper Darby schools are facing a $6 million shortfall. But they're not raising taxes.

Instead, they will simply tighten their belts, tapping into their fund balance as they await word from Harrisburg on much much state aid they can expect.

Good for them.

You can read about it here.

Fast Eddie shoots from the lip - & hits himself in the foot

Incredibly dumb. Insensitive. Selfish."

Uh-oh, Ed Rendell is in the news again.

The former mayor and governor was working overtime yesterday to extract his foot from his mouth after some less than amusing musings on Donald Trump's relationships with women.

Speaking with the Washington Post, Fast Eddie said the reality TV star turned leader of the Republican Party will have trouble with women voters, in particular in the Philadelphia suburbs, because of his comments about women.

Then he managed to out-Trump The Donald.

"Will he have some appeal to working-class Dems in Levittown or Bristol? Sure," Rendell said of Trump's often belittling, combative comments about women. "For every one, he'll lose one and a half, two Republican women."

Rendell suggested Trump's comments will come back to haunt him at the polls.

"There are probably more ugly women in America than attractive women," the former guv quipped. "People take that stuff personally." Yes, they do, Mr. Mayor.

Rendell was quick to apologize after the comments went viral yesterday.

He fell on his sword - or maybe his tongue - lamenting his comments as "incredibly dumb and selfish."

Rendell was one of the key Democratic power brokers who helped lift Katie McGinty to the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Pat Toomey.

And he's a Hillary Clinton booster.

It's not the first time Rendell's has made headlines with his mouth. He's known for saying what's on his mind.

This time, while shooting from the lip, he managed to shoot himself in the foot.

For a few hours, Phils were in first place

For a few hours yesterday, something happened in Philly that has not happened since 2011.

No, the Sixers did not win again. You should be satisfied with getting the No. 1 pick in the draft.

But those guys in pinstripes across the street? They look more and more like they are for real.

With yesterday's 4-2 win over the Marlins, the Phils actually climbed a few percentage points ahead of the Mets to take first place in National League East. It was the first time since 2011 that the Phils have sat atop the division.

No, it didn't last long. The Nats beat the Mets last night to inch back into first. They now have a winning percentage of .590 at 23-16. The Phils are right on their tails at .585, sporting the most unlikely record in sports at 24-17. As it is the Phillies are in second place, ahead of the Mets.

No one saw this coming.

Most people had the Phils pegged as being one of the worst teams in baseball.

Not exactly.

They continue to ride good pitching and timely hitting to efficient wins.

This is not Murderers Row. They don't scare anyone at the plate. Their best hitter, Maikel Franco, has yet to really warm up. But as long as they get the kind of dynamic starting pitching and off-the-charts bullpen work they've been getting, they aren't going to go away.

Yesterday it was Jeremy Hellickson's turn again. He allowed two early runs, then sailed through the sixth inning. He allowed just five hits and at one point retired 11 in a row. That's when he turned things over to the Phils' trusty bullpen. Bang!

David Hernandez, Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez took turns blowing away the Braves in the 7th, 8th and 9th. Gomez picked up his 16th save in 17 tries.

Tyler Goeddel provided some timely hitting, going 3-for-4 with a home run. After a rough start, he's hitting over .300 in the last few weeks.

How long can it last. Well, take a look at the schedule. After a day off today, the Phils will entertain the cellar-dwelling Braves for three, followed by the struggling Detroit Tigers, who are two games under .500. And all six games are at Citizens Bank Park. First-place Phils?

We might need to get used to it.

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, May 19

The Daily Numbers: 6.5 million dollar shortfall in the Upper Darby School District.

0 tax hike.

3,521 dollar tax bill for average home assessed at $100,000 in the township.

30 million dollar transformation slated for Terminal B at Philly International Airport.

8 new restaurants that will greet travelers.

23 people facing charges in a check fraud probe in Upper Darby.

16, age of Breanna Watson, who remains subject of search in Clifton Heights. She’s been missing since Saturday.

12 million dollars for traffic signal upgrades coming to Delco.

2 Delco natives who will be ordained as priests this weekend.

1963 Bonner grad William Atkinson, who will be focus of an assembly and presentation at the school today. The Rev. William Atkinson is being pushed for sainthood.

88 years of service among 3 recent retirees from the Upper Chichester Police Department.

$1 million dollar lottery ticket sold in Marcus Hook that has yet to be claimed.

20 years in federal prison for a Montco man convicted of taping kids while they were using the bathroom.

66 people aboard an EgyptAir flight heading from Paris to Cairo that vanished this morning. It is believed to have crashed.

0.10 or higher blood alcohol content for a 1st time DUI offender that would mandate an ignition interlock device, under new state law that Gov. Tom Wolf said he will sign.

4-2 win for the Phils over the Marlins yesterday.

.585 winning percentage for Phils.

.590 mark for the Nats.

24-17 record now for Phils.

24-13 since starting out 0-4.

6 strong innings for starter Jeremy Hellickson, who gave up 2 runs on 5 hits.

19 in a row he retired at one point.

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

For a couple of hours after their win yesterday, the Phils actually were in 1st place. The Nats edged past them with a win over the Mets.

I Don’t Get It: Ed Rendell. Really, gov?

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Upper Darby School Board, which will hold the line on taxes despite facing a $6.5 million shortfall.

Quote Box: “There are probably more ugly women in American than attractive women.”

- Ed Rendell.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Smile! You're on Candid Camera

Here's something that never ceases to amaze me: Do you ever stop to think about how much of our lives is now being recorded on videotape.

Every time we walk into a store, or up to an ATM. Every time we drive through a tool booth.

That's one of the reasons I find it hard to believe some of the things people do - apparently unaware that their actions are being captured on video.

Here's a clue to some of our challenged citizenry: Wise up. When you walk into Wawa or very likely your neighborhood convenience store, Smile! You're on candid camera.

I kind of doubt the guy was thinking about that when he whipped out his cell phone and repeatedly snapped a few pictures up the skirt of the woman in front of him at a pretzel shop on 69th Street.

He's now being sought by police.

Some days you just have to shake your head.

Voices heard on the gun issue

On our editorial page today we again visited the Battle of the Background checks.

And the troops from Delco were out in force.

Just a week after a public hearing was held here in Delaware County on House Bill 1010, which would close several glaring loopholes in state law governing background checks, busloads of Delco residents made the trek to Harrisburg to have their voices heard in the state Capitol.

They came through loud and clear.

But perhaps the two most important voices heard Monday were voices that were already in Harrisburg.

That's because Tom Killion and James Santora work there.

Killion, the longtime state rep from the 168th District, was actually in his first day as a state senator, having won the special election to fill the 9th District seat vacated by Dominic Pileggi, who now sits on the Delco bench. Santora is a state rep from Upper Darby's 163rd District.

They also share something else: They're both Republicans, part of the majority that controls both the state House and Senate.

Both men appeared in front of the throng and pledged to work toward stronger background checks.

That's not something we always hear from the GOP.

Good for them.

Tanks but no tanks, Sixers

The Sixers finally won something.

The ping-pong balls and hoops gods aligned last night at the NBA Draft Lottery to give the Sixers the No. 1 pick in the draft. Now they have to decided between LSU's Ben Simmons and Duke's Brandon Ingram.

But after years of former GM Hinkie's vision - dubbed 'The Process' - that amounted to losing games in hopes of securing high draft picks, they still were not as lucky as they could have been.

If the Los Angeles Lakers pick had fallen outside the top three, that also would have reverted to the Sixers, meaning they could have been picking No. 1 and as high as No. 4. That didn't happen. The Lakers check in with the No. 2 pick, which they will keep.

A lot of people are going to say that last night validated Sam Hinkie's stint as GM.

I'm not so sure. I just find something incredibly distasteful about losing on purpose. In other words, tanking.

Here's my take on what the Sixers have done. I look forward to them putting a legitimate team on the floor. They have a lot of pieces: Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, possibly even Joelle Embiid, who has yet to play a single second for the team, but was seen this week actually practicing. They will add another 'sure thing' with this No. 1 draft pick. Whether or not all these guys can play together is anybody's guess. That will be Brett Brown's job. He at least deserves the chance, after being saddled with the dreck that he has been trying to coach the past few years.

But I'm still holding my nose.

Bottom line? Tanks, but no tanks.

You can catch Jack McCaffery's take on the Sixers here.

In the meantime, my man Sam Bradford finally met the media yesterday. He said all the right things, even while seeming to throw his agent under the bus as the guy who came up with the ill-conceived holdout after the Eagles moved up to the No. 2 spot in the NFL Draft in order to draft North Dakota State Quarterback Carson Wentz.

Basketball? Football? How about those Phillies! They won again last night behind another solid performance from Vince Velasquez. And they got the first home run of his career from Tommy Joseph.

The Phils are now just a half-game out of first place in the NL East.

At this point, no doubt Richie Ashburn is looking down on all this with a wry smile and simply saying:

"Hard to believe, Harry."

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, May 18

The Daily Numbers: 1, as in the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, which the Sixers now hold after winning the NBA Draft Lottery last night.

4, as in the No. 4 pick, which they will not have, since the Lakers checked in with the No. 2 pick, which allows them to keep it, instead of swapping it to the Sixers if it fell outside the top 3 picks.

26.9 percent chance, what odds were that Sixers would get the top choice.

24 and 26 picks for the Sixers as well, giving them, 3 in the 1st round.

10-72 mark for the Sixers last year.

6,692 jackpot in casino winnings stolen from an Upper Darby woman who was followed home from Harrah’s casino. She got the money back when police nabbed the suspect.

66 $100 bills, 4 $20 bills, 1 $10 bill and 2 singles, what she left Harrah’s with.

16, age of girl who is missing in Clifton Heights.

15-30 years in state prison for Prospect Park man in the rape of a 12-year-old girl.

4 ’upskirt’ photos of a women taken by man in a store on 69th Street. Police are looking for him.

2 brothers - twins - from Chester County who are now accused of setting off series of pipe bombs, damaging property, on the Christmas break.

106 mph, how fast Amtrak train was going when it derailed in Philly last year.

8 lives lost in the crash, and hundreds injured. The NTSB now believes engineer Brandon Bostian was distracted and likely thought he was past the curve when he decided to speed up. In fact he was just heading into the turn.

241 employees at National Penn Bank getting pink slips.

3-1 win for Phillies over the Marlins last night.

1 career home run for Tommy Joseph, who lined his 1st into the left-field foul pole.

10 strikeouts in 5 innings of work for starter Vince Velasquez.

17 Marlins in total fanned by Phillies pitchers.

.5 - one-half game out of first place - behind the Mets for the Phils.

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

Anyone else still have a bad taste in their mouth in the way the Sixers wound up with the No. 1 Pick? And what was Dikembe Mutombo doing Tweeting early congratulations to the Sixers for snagging the top pick. Did he know something?

I Don’t Get It: Tanking. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Tom Killion and James Santora. The 2 Delco Republicans addressed the crowd of gun control activists Monday and vowed to seek tougher background checks.

Quote Box: “He went in a matter of seconds from distraction to disaster.”

- NTSB member Robert Sumwalt, on the engineer involved in last year’s fatal Amtrak derailment in Philly.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A turning point on gun control

Call it the battle of the background checks.

The push to close loopholes in state firearms laws to make background checks applicable to private sales that now fall outside the law hit Harrisburg yesterday.

That's when busloads of people from Delaware County showed up to rally support for the legislation.

But one of the most telling aspects of the scene was who was addressing the crowd.

Yes, that was two local Republican elected leaders talking about their support for the bill.

Both state Rep. James Santora, R-163, of Upper Darby, and newly elected state Sen. Tom Killion, R-9, of Middletown, both addressed the crowd and pledged their support for the measure.

That, likely more than anything else that was said yesterday, tells me this legislation has a chance to succeed where so many other gun control bills failed.

You can read the full story here.

Kevin Neary gets a little help from his friends

Kevin Neary does not want to be the poster boy for gun violence.

He just wants to live his life - albeit from the confinement of a wheelchair, courtesy of the kind of random street gun violence that is ravaging so many of our neighborhoods.

Neary was shot during a robbery attempt nearly five years ago just a few yards from his Philly apartment.

In the five years since, Neary has managed to persevere, thanks in large part due to the incredible support system of family and friends that have rallied to his side.

If gun violence continues to be one of the worst stories we follow every day, the way Kevin Neary and his supporters have reacted to the worst life can dish out surely is among the best stories.

We featured that mission on our editorial page today.

A patch of blue? Uh, try green

The biggest stories in Philly sports today are taking place off the field.

First, we will get to hear Sam Bradford speak. The Prodigal Quarterback is expected to speak to the assembled media today after ending his short-lived holdout after he blew a gasket when the Eagles moved up in the draft and selected North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz with the No. 2 pick.

Bradford was none too pleased, apparently under the belief that the Birds were committed to him as their starter. Bradford no doubt would have liked to have seen all those draft picks the Eagles shipped off in order to move up to get Wentz used to add some weapons and defense to the team he was supposed to lead.

So Bradford stormed off, saying he would not participate in any more voluntary Birds' workouts under new coach Doug Pederson. That lasted about two weeks.

Aside from issuing a statement saying he was back and committed to a championship season, Bradford has not spoken. That changes today. Should be interesting.

Then there are the Sixers. The NBA Draft Lottery is tonight, and the Sixers are no doubt hoping the ping-pong balls fall in their favor. There is a chance the 76ers could wind up with the No. 1 and No. 4 pick in the draft. The flip side of that is they get only the No. 4 pick, perhaps justice from the basketball gods for the blatant tanking they have undertaken the last three years to reach this position.

But the biggest story in Philly sports today is about a uniform, specifically the Sixers uniform.

The team announced yesterday that they made a little bit of history - and not for losing.

Instead the Sixers won big - at least where we all know it really counts - that would be their bank account.

The team announced they would become the first major sports franchise to sell advertising on their team uniforms.

StubHub, the online ticket outlet, will pay to have their corporate name and logo displayed on a small 2-inch by 2-inch patch on the Sixers chest.

Hard to believe the Sixers could beat noted Dallas Cowboys kingpin Jerry Jones to the punch on this.

But make no mistake, this is likely just the start of an avalanche.

Will pro sports teams suddenly start looking like NASCAR drivers, their bodies festooned with multiple corporate logos. Probably not. But the precedent will be there.

I remember a few years back when Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions, famous for their plain blue and white jerseys and helmets, adopted a Nike swoosh logo on their pants.

Why? Because Phil Knight and Nike was paying them big bucks to do so.

The same still holds today, only it is, of course, an online ticket outlet ponying up the money.

As usual in sports, money talks, everything else walks.

Just ask Sam Bradford.

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, May 17

The Daily Numbers: 1010, the Pa. House bill that would close several key loopholes concerning background checks in the state. Busloads from Delco want to the state Capitol yesterday to rally support for the bill.

53 years, how long Scaramuzza’s has operated on Springfield Road in Clifton Heights. The family will close their retail store, while focusing on its factory operations.

275,000 dollars, how much 2 business partners pleaded guilty to in a scam involving payroll deductions.

41, age of man who faces a DUI charge after the pickup truck he was driving wound up in the drink off Route 291 in Tinicum yesterday.

6:30 tonight, when Upper Darby School District will hold a special meeting to roll out their final proposed budget plan.

1 year later: Today the feds will deliver their report on what caused that deadly Amtrak derailment last year in Philly. It is expected to focus on human error, including reports that the engineer was distracted.

18,801 DUI arrests reported by state police in 2015.

6.2 percent increase from the year before.

4,431 of those arrests were for people impaired by drugs.

43 percent increase in those violations.

193-2 vote by the Pa. House yesterday to back move to require ignition interlock devices for 1st-time DUI offenders whose blood-alcohol content level was over 0.10 percent.

1 road worker killed when struck by vehicle on I-95 in Delaware last night.

2 straight losses for the Phils, who fell to the Marlins 5-3 last night.

1-6 record for Jerad Eickhoff now, who pitched better last night but was still saddled with the loss.

3 runs on 6 hits over 6 innings for Eickhoff.

16-6 mark for the Marlins after starting the season 5-11.

.310 batting average for the Phils’ Tyler Goeddel since April 23.

13 for 42 in that span, he also drove in a run last night.

1 and 4, what would be the optimal result for the Sixers in tonight’s NBA Draft Lottery.

26.9 percent chance of getting No. 1 pick for the Sixers.

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

We’ll hear from Sam Bradford today. Here’s what I’d like to hear him say: I did a dumb thing, I overreacted to the deal and let my emotions get the best of me. I’d like to apologize to the team, my teammates and the great fans here in Philly. I know I have some fences to mend. Let’s go win a Super Bowl!

I Don’t Get It: The Sixers will now sport a corporate logo on their uniforms. I don’t get it. Actually I do. It’s about money.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Republican legislators Tom Killion and James Santora, who addressed crowd seeking new gun control legislation in Harrisburg yesterday.

Quote Box: “We want to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”

- Terry Rumsey, longtime Delco gun control supporter.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Busting another 'traveler'

They're called 'travelers.'

Usually when we write about them, it's the case of another man who's been stung by the people who have one of the toughest jobs in the county. They are undercover detectives who troll the ugly underbelly of the online world as part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

I'll never forget an interview we did with a woman detective who worked this detail. Among the sad stories she related, one thing stayed with me. She indicated just how easy it was to find men online who were interested in having sex with children, even willing to travel great distances to do so.

That's where the name comes from, why they're called "travelers."

She would say she would go online posing as an underage girl and within minutes she would be contacted by men looking to have sex. But the story we detailed Sunday was even uglier.

Police say the "traveler" in this case actually came here to Delaware County and had sex with an underage girl.

She reported to school officials that she had been sexually assaulted.

Now David Dewald, who traveled here from Bloomsburg, according to police, faces charges of rape, involuntary sexual intercourse involving a person less than 16 years of age, other sex charges, kidnapping of a minor and other charges.

Let this be a warning to parents.

The Internet can be a very dangerous place, especially for kids.

You can read the frightening story here.

The devastating effect of delivering bad news

I used my print column this week to talk about something I'm all too familiar with.

That would be delivering bad news. It sort of goes with the occupation.

But I learned very early in my journalism career that receiving that kind of news can be devastating. I was reminded of that this week by a photo that was posted by the fire company in my old home town of Oxford, Pa.

Being aware of just how devastating getting bad news can be is something I've tried to be cognizant of throughout the last three decades and change in the newspaper business.

I'm sure there are lots of people who doubt that, many of them having been featured in the pages of this newspaper.

Like I said, it's part of the business.

You can read my Monday column here.

The Daily Numbers for Monday, May 16

The Daily Numbers: 33, low temperature early this morning.

64, today’s high later on. Yep, spring is still a rumor.

14, age of girl police say a man from Bloomsburg, Pa., traveled here to Delco to have sex with.

40, age of David Dewald, who now faces kidnapping and a slew of sex charges.

5 years, how long Kevin Neary of Upper Chichester has been in a wheelchair since being shot during a robbery attempt on a Philly street.

2 high-profile visitors at the Penn commencement yesterday. Both Vice President Joe Biden and GOP Presidential favorite Donald Trump were on hand. Trump’s daughter got a diploma, as did Biden’s granddaughter.

15 digital billboards now in Delco. They are increasingly drawing criticism.

45 digital billboards in Philly.

7 in Chester County, where some residents are asking they be turned off at night.

45, age of Philly man police say doused his girlfriend with gas and then set her on fire in a Bensalem motel. She died in the attack.

2 dead, 4 wounded in separate incidents in Philly over the weekend.

2 of 3 taken from the Reds by the Phils over the weekend.

9-4 loss yesterday as Adam Morgan struggled.

7 runs on 8 hits surrendered by Morgan in just 3 innings and change.

12 hits for Phils, but 16 runners left on base.

1-1 draw for the Union over the weekend against Montreal.

35 points for Villanova product Kyle Lowry to lead the Raptors past the Heat and into NBA’s East Finals.

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

Baseball brawls usually don’t amount to much. But if you haven’t seen it, check out the shot Rougned Odor landed on the Blue Jays Jose Bautista yesterday. It would make Joe Frazier proud.

I Don’t Get It: “Travelers,” guys willing to travel great distances to have sex with underage children. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Kevin Neary, who keeps up the fight against street and gun violence from the wheelchair he’s been in since a shooting in Philly 5 years ago.

Quote Box: “I like a little more of the fast pace.”

- Kevin Neary

Spring remains a rumor

Spring remains for the most part just a rumor.

Summer? Forget it.

When I climbed behind the wheel for the drive into work this morning, the dashboard thermometer was registering a less than toasty 33 degrees.

Yesterday wasn't a lot better. My wife and I are dedicated walkers. Yesterday we bundled up and braved the elements, but it still wasn't enough.

The wind was howling. Yes, the sun was out, but it was not exactly warming things up much.

Every time I think I can put away my long underwear and jackets, the weather proves me wrong once again.

Yes, I had my thermals on yesterday under the exercise pants I wear for our walks. At our Sunday stop at Wawa, I opted for a hot chocolate as opposed to coffee.

It's not exactly a secret that I like it hot. I have my deck and patio set up and ready for summer. Now all I need is some decent weather.

Doesn't look like it's coming this week. The forecast is calling for more cool temperatures today, with highs only in the mid-60s. Rain will move in again Tuesday and Wednesday, before if finally clears up later in the week.

You can get the full forecast here.

There's nothing I like more than hot, humid, muggy summer weather.

Unfortunately, at this point I would settle for some consistent days in the 70s.

I'm not going to hold my breath.

Friday, May 13, 2016

There's no shortage of opinions; this is just one of them

Another day, another piece of technology.

The Heron's Nest is now podcasting!

Yes, now you can not only read my daily ramblings on the news, you can listen to me as well. I will be offering a daily - at least several times a week - podcast with what's in the newspaper, why we do the things we do, and trying to answer readers' questions about the constantly changing news racket.

Today I will tackle the subject of what happens when someone disagrees with our coverage. You can listen to the podcast here.

This usually starts with a phone call.

That's what happened a couple of weeks ago, after our coverage - splashed all over Page One - of a search at Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School in Upper Darby.

This all started with what appeared to be a drug transaction down the street from the school. During the drug buy, a weapon was displayed, with a threat to shoot a student in the foot.

Eventually calmer heads prevailed, but the student returned to school with the gun.

A student who witnessed the drug deal - including the gun - then had a decision to make.

The day after the police search of the school, I penned an editorial pointing out what I considered a silver lining to the story.

That would be the fact that a student actually did the right thing, by going into the school and informing school officials that a student had returned to the school with a gun.

It was exactly the right thing to do, and something that does not always happen.

School officials notified police, who urged them to put the school on lockdown. Police then swept the school with their K-9 crews.

Some pot was found in a couple of lockers. The search eventually led to the gun - fully loaded - that had been brought into the school.

But the day the editorial appeared in the paper, I received a phone call from a reader who was not real happy with the way we handled the story.

He wanted to know why we focused on the fact that while pot was found in two lockers, we didn't make note of the fact that all the other kids' lockers came up clean. I admit it's a different way of looking at the story.

In short, that's not news. People - yes, including students - doing what they are supposed to do doesn't not make headlines. I know that's not fair, but that's the nature of the business.

The reader, a Bonner alum who is getting ready to send his daughter to the school next year, also took exception to my noting that the search turned up drugs and charges against "several" other students.

In fact it was two.

That's when I made him an offer I always make to people who disagree with our coverage of a story.

I asked him to write a letter to the editor with his version of what happened and why he disagreed with us.

I eventually wrote a column about the whole situation, starting with the fact that it pained me to do the story, because of the fact that I have a soft spot in my heart for Bonner. It was our coverage a few years ago that helped save the school.

Bill Horan was good to his word. So was I. You can read his letter here.

Ironically, it appeared on the same day another Bonner alum wrote reacting to my column, saying he thought our coverage was on the money. Paul Sullivan, Bonner Class of '60, chimed in from Fresno, Calif.

I always tell people I have AN opinion, not the only opinion.

That's the whole reason behind having an op-ed page. It's meant to be something of a community of ideas, where we can share our thoughts about the news.

I know every day someone is going to disagree with our coverage. I get phone calls like the one I received from Bill Horan every day. Initially, people are usually stunned that the editor actually picks up his own phone. Then they are often taken aback that I'm not only wiling to listen to their side of the story, I always offer them an avenue to have it published. Just ask Bill Horan.

The Daily Numbers for Friday, May 13

The Daily Numbers: 2 members of the Colwyn Fire Co., a mother and daughter, who face trial on charges they stole fire company funds.

50,000 dollars, how much officials believe they swiped over an 18-month period.

3 school principals in Upper Darby who will be leaving the school district.

93 to 192 months in the slammer for a Chester pastor convicted of the rape of a 13-year-old girl.

50th commencement taking place this weekend at Neumann University.

678 grads who will pick up diplomas Saturday.

7-4 win for the Phils over Atlanta yesterday.

3-run double in the 10th from Cameron Rupp wins it, after Phils blew 4-0 lead.

5-5 road trip for the Phils, after they started 1-4.

4 hits for Odubel Herrera, who was on base 5 times out of the leadoff spot.

13th save for Jeanmar Gomez, that’s tops in baseball.

4 year, $26 million dollar deal for Eagles top draft pick Carson Wentz. All of that money is apparently guaranteed. Nice.

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

I’ve always wanted to see a bunch of guys from Texas come here and hold a rowing event on the Schuylkill. Of course they would call it the Dadgum Regatta.

I Don’t Get It: The pastor of a church in Chester is going to jail for the rape of a 13-year-old girl. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper
: Kudos to Dr. Julie Wollman, who will be installed as the new president of Widener University today.

Quote Box: “My heart has been destroyed.”

- Father of Chester rape victim

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Leaders, Lincoln and kids: A sit-down session with Delco's future

What do you think goes into being a good leader?

I had a chance to meet lots of them yesterday. They are all sophomores in high school.

I took part in the annual Delaware County Youth Leadership Academy put on at Penn State Brandywine by the Youth Council of the Delaware County Workforce Development Board and the Foundation of the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce.

I was part of the media panel.

The idea - or at least the way I approached it - was to try to impart some life experiences that shaped who you are and helped on the journey into a leadership position.

I told them about several seminal events in my life that I believe shaped who I am and what I do for a living. I of course started with the house I grew up in and my parents, who would not for one second consider starting a day without consuming at least one or more likely several daily newspapers.

I relayed the effect of eights years under the loving - but rather firm - guidance of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for eight years at Assumption BVM School in West Grove, Pa. Yes, I can diagram a sentence like nobody's business.

But I was somewhat surprised when each of the five groups of kids who rotated into my table failed to note the significance of another seminal event in my life. None of them seemed to grasp the importance when I told them that for the first two years of my college experience, I had the high honor and distinction of attending classes at Lincoln University.

Usually, especially when I'm speaking to adults, when I offer that piece of information, I'm greeted with quizzical looks. So I asked each group of kids if they knew why some people might consider it a bit odd for me to have attended Lincoln University.

Nothing. Blank stares.

Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe we're moving past old stereotypes.

But I'm thinking it's something else. I'm worried that these young people don't understand just what Lincoln is and what it stands for.

The school, just outside the little town of Oxford, Pa., where I grew up, is one of nation's oldest, most acclaimed institutions of higher learning traditionally dedicated to the education of African-American students.

Or, as it was often referred to on campus, the "Harvard of black schools."

I then asked the kids if they understood why that experience was so important to me, and why it had such an effect.

Again, I was met with silence, although this time I think they simply may have been modest.

So I asked one young person in each of these groups to look around the room and tell me what they saw.

What they saw is exactly what I saw every day growing up in Oxford, and what I am guessing they see most days in their own experiences. They see a bunch of faces that look just like mine, and theirs.

And then I told them of the experience of walking into a packed classroom at Lincoln University, looking around and realizing mine was the only fact that looked like that.

I urged them at some point to try to gain that kind of experience, either socially, in school or at work. I use the lessons I learned at Lincoln University every day, in terms of how I deal with people and how I hope people deal with me.

I told the kids I also think this country would be light years ahead of where we are, in dealing with the same social issues that have dogged us for years, if every person had at least a small taste of that kind of minority experience.

You want leadership. What I encountered at Lincoln counts.

I hope those kids took that lesson with them when they left Penn State Brandywine yesterday.