Thursday, December 29, 2016

One more cruel epitaph for 2016

It's now become pretty clear that 2016 simply is out to break our hearts.

It apparently did the same to Debbie Reynolds.

In a horrific denouement to what has been a stark year of losing one celebrity and pop music star after another, we learned late last night that the actress died, just one day after losing her daughter, actress Carrie Fisher.

2016 just couldn't resist taking one more bite out of the celebrity apple.

As I indicated yesterday, this has been a jolting year in terms of the celebrities and music great we have lost.

But it strikes me as being more than that.

These people - David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Prince and myriad others - created the soundtrack of our youth.

Now the news of their passing continues a year-long dirge, and acknowledgement that we are indeed all getting older.

It took me the better part of a year to come to grips with the idea that I had been on this planet for six decades.

I wasn't the least bit fazed by turning 30, 40 or even 50.

But 60? That was a different animal. It just sounded so much older than 59.

Not helping matters was seemingly waking each morning to learn that one more person who gave me so much joy - either in music, movies or TV, had passed away.

It is a reminder that we are mortal after all.

Farewell, 2016.

Don't let the door hit you in the backside on the way out.

Someone please tell me that 2017 will be better.

Your morning roads report

Here's an early morning roads report:

If you're looking for the legendary "wintry mix," I have bad news for you.

It hasn't arrived here. At least not yet.

I just drove into the office, and at the ungodly hour of 4 a.m. it was not doing anything.

So turn off the TV. Don't listen to the radio.

In fact, if you can pull the covers up over your head and stay in bed.

The way 2016 is going, perhaps all of us would be better off just moving ahead to 2017.

The TV folks tell us some kind of precipitation is in the works.

Of course, they for some reason believe the Lehigh Valley is a Philadelphia suburb. Yes, those mythical "northern and western suburbs" seem to expand every year.

Such is the hunt for winter weather - and ratings, of course.

Around here, it looks like we might have a chance of rain today.

But for right now the roads are dry. I know. I just drove on them.

You can get the full forecast here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 can't end soon enough

This year can't end soon enough.

Yes, we've lost another star.

Carrie Fisher, the iconic Princess Leia of the 'Star Wars' movies, succumbed this week after suffering a heart attack while flying from London to New York.

She becomes the latest in a seemingly unending series of stars from the music and pop culture realms who have departed us in 2016.

It started back in January with the stunning death of David Bowie.

It seems like every couple of months, another star would fall.

I've taken to calling it "rock's rugged year." Forget the day the music died. This was the year so much of the music left us.

But it's been more than that.

It is, for many of us, a harrowing affirmation that we are growing older.

This is what happens when people age - they start passing away.

Many of the stars we lost - in particular music icons such as Maurice White, Merle Haggard, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Glenn Frey and George Michael - provided the soundtrack of our youth.

Their passing not only notes another year in the books, but a reminder that we are getting older. Despite our zealous attempts to remain "forever young," time marches on.

Eventually it will claim all of us.

This year it seems to have taken a particularly horrific toll.

Here, according to the Associated Press, is a roll call of the notables we have lost in 2016.

Rest in Peace.

And for the rest of us, let's hope 2017 takes a less heavy toll.

JANUARY:

Pierre Boulez, 90. Former principal conductor of the New York Philharmonic, one of the leading figures in modern classical music. Jan. 5.

Otis Clay, 73. Hall of fame rhythm and blues artist known as much for his charitable work in Chicago as for his singing. Jan. 8.

David Bowie, 69. Other-worldly musician who broke pop and rock boundaries with his creative musicianship and a genre-spanning persona he christened Ziggy Stardust. Jan. 10.

Alan Rickman, 69. Classically-trained British stage star and sensual screen villain in the "Harry Potter" saga and other films. Jan. 14.

Glenn Frey, 67. Rock 'n' roll rebel who co-founded the Eagles and with Don Henley formed one of history's most successful songwriting teams with such hits as "Hotel California" and "Life in the Fast Lane." Jan. 18.

Abe Vigoda, 94. Actor whose leathery, sad-eyed face made him ideal for playing the over-the-hill detective Phil Fish in the 1970s TV series "Barney Miller" and the doomed Mafia soldier in "The Godfather." Jan. 26.

FEBRUARY:

Maurice White, 74. Earth, Wind & Fire founder whose horn-driven band sold more than 90 million albums. Feb. 3.

Antonin Scalia, 79. Influential conservative and most provocative member of the Supreme Court. Feb. 13.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 93. Egyptian diplomat who helped negotiate his country's landmark peace deal with Israel but clashed with the United States as U.N. secretary-general. Feb. 16.

Harper Lee, 89. Elusive novelist whose child's-eye view of racial injustice in a small Southern town, "To Kill a Mockingbird," became an Oscar-winning film. Feb. 19.

MARCH:

Nancy Reagan, 94. Backstage adviser and fierce protector of Ronald Reagan in his journey from actor to president — and finally during his battle with Alzheimer's disease. March 6.

Rob Ford, 46. Pugnacious, populist former mayor of Toronto whose career crashed in a drug-driven, obscenity-laced debacle. March 22. Cancer.

Phife Dawg, 45. Lyricist whose witty wordplay was a linchpin of the groundbreaking hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. March 22. Complications from diabetes.

Garry Shandling, 66. Actor and comedian who masterminded a brand of phony docudrama with "The Larry Sanders Show." March 24.

Patty Duke, 69. As a teen, she won an Oscar for playing Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker," then maintained a long career while battling personal demons. March 29.

APRIL:

Merle Haggard, 79. Country giant who rose from poverty and prison to international fame through his songs about outlaws and underdogs. April 6.

Dwayne "Pearl" Washington, 52. Basketball player who went from New York City playground wonder to Big East star at Syracuse. April 20.

Prince, 57. One of the most inventive and influential musicians of modern times with hits including "Little Red Corvette," ''Let's Go Crazy" and "When Doves Cry." April 21.

MAY:

Tommy Kono, 85. He took up weightlifting in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans and went on to win two Olympic gold medals for the United States. May 1.

Morley Safer, 84. Veteran "60 Minutes" correspondent who exposed a military atrocity in Vietnam that played an early role in changing Americans' view of the war. May 19.

Rosalie Chris Lerman, 90. Survivor of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp who was a passionate advocate of Holocaust remembrance. May 19.

JUNE:

Muhammad Ali, 74. Heavyweight champion whose fast fists, irrepressible personality and determined spirit transcended sports and captivated the world. June 3.

Gordie Howe, 88. Known as "Mr. Hockey," the Canadian farm boy whose blend of talent and toughness made him the NHL's quintessential star. June 10.

Anton Yelchin, 27. Rising actor best known for playing Chekov in the new "Star Trek" films. June 19. Hit by his car in his driveway.

Pat Summitt, 64. Winningest coach in Division I college basketball history who lifted the women's game from obscurity to national prominence during her 38-year career at Tennessee. June 28.

JULY:

Elie Wiesel, 87. Romanian-born Holocaust survivor whose classic "Night" launched his career as one of the world's foremost witnesses and humanitarians. July 2.

Clown Dimitri, 80. Beloved Swiss clown and mime who studied under Marcel Marceau. July 19.

Rev. Tim LaHaye, 90. Co-author of the "Left Behind" series, a literary juggernaut that brought end-times prophecy into mainstream bookstores. July 25.

AUGUST:

John McLaughlin, 89. Conservative political commentator and host of a television show that pioneered hollering-heads discussions of politics. Aug. 16.

Sonia Rykiel, 86. French designer whose relaxed sweaters in berry-colored stripes and eye-popping motifs helped liberate women from stuffy suits. Aug. 25.

Gene Wilder, 83. Frizzy-haired actor who brought his deft comedic touch to such unforgettable roles as the neurotic accountant in "The Producers." Aug. 28.

Vera Caslavska, 74. Seven-time Olympic gymnastics gold medalist who stood up against the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. Aug. 30.

SEPTEMBER:

Phyllis Schlafly, 92. Outspoken conservative activist who helped defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. Sept. 5. Rose Mofford, 94. Arizona's first female governor and a shepherd for the state during a period of political turbulence. Sept. 15.

Arnold Palmer, 87. Golfing great who brought a country-club sport to the masses with a hard-charging style, charisma and a commoner's touch. Sept. 25.

Shimon Peres, 93. Former Israeli president and prime minister whose life story mirrored that of the Jewish state and who was celebrated as a Nobel prize-winning visionary who pushed his country toward peace. Sept. 28. OCTOBER: King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 88. World's longest reigning monarch, he was revered in Thailand as a demigod, a humble father figure and an anchor of stability through decades of upheaval. Oct. 13. Junko Tabei, 77. The first woman to climb Mount Everest. Oct. 20. Tom Hayden, 76. 1960s antiwar activist whose name became forever linked with the Chicago 7 trial, Vietnam War protests and his ex-wife, actress Jane Fonda. Oct. 23.

NOVEMBER:

Janet Reno, 78. First woman to serve as U.S. attorney general and the center of several political storms during the Clinton administration. Nov. 7.

Leonard Cohen, 82. Canadian singer-songwriter who blended spirituality and sexuality in songs like "Hallelujah," ''Suzanne" and "Bird on a Wire." Nov. 7.

Gwen Ifill, 61. Co-anchor of PBS' "NewsHour" and a veteran journalist who moderated two vice presidential debates. Nov. 14.

Florence Henderson, 82. Broadway star who became one of America's most beloved television moms in "The Brady Bunch." Nov. 24.

Fidel Castro, 90. He led his bearded rebels to victorious revolution in 1959, embraced Soviet-style communism and challenged U.S. power during his half-century of rule in Cuba. Nov. 25.

DECEMBER: Jayaram Jayalalithaa, 68. South Indian actress who turned to politics and became the highest elected official in the state of Tamil Nadu. Dec. 4.

John Glenn, 95. His 1962 flight as the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth made him an all-American hero and propelled him to a long career in the U.S. Senate. Dec. 8.

Alan Thicke, 69. Versatile performer who gained his greatest renown as the beloved dad on the sitcom "Growing Pains." Dec. 13.

Zsa Zsa Gabor, 99. Jet-setting Hungarian actress and socialite who helped invent a new kind of fame out of multiple marriages, conspicuous wealth and jaded wisdom about the glamorous life. Dec. 18.

George Michael, 53. Musician who shot to stardom at an early age in the teen duo WHAM! and moved smoothly into a solo career. Dec. 25.

Carrie Fisher, 60. Actress who found enduring fame as Princess Leia in the original "Star Wars." Dec. 27.

Crunch time for Chester finances

It's crunch time in Chester.

City Council will convene this morning to vote on a budget - and every indication is that taxes will be going up.

The city managed to avert a financial disaster when a deal was reached with Harrah's Casino in the city that will allow revenue form the gambling mecca to continue to flow to both the city and county. For Chester, that adds up to nearly a quarter of the city's budget, a cool $10 million.

But that does not mean the city is out of the woods.

Recent reports painted a dire picture of the city's finances, both in terms of its operating budget and its troubled municipal pension plans.

Back in the summer, a state report suggested drastic action to attack the city's budget problems, including layoffs in both the police and fire departments.

City officials declined to go that route, hoping instead to find new revenue in an increased push to collect overdue taxes and banking on the arrival of a downtown hotel.

The city needs to show progress toward getting out of the 'distressed' status it has been wearing like an anchor around its neck for years or face the possibility of being put into receivership.

We'll begin to find out a bit more about how the city plans to attack its financial woes this morning.

We'll be there to tell you what happens.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Dec. 20

The Daily Numbers: 2 more parcels connected to Church of the Overcomer in Trainer Borough that are at the heart of dispute between the church and the county over tax-exempt status.

67 diplomas awarded at the fall commencement at Penn State Brandywine.

0 tax hike for Marple Township.

0 tax hike for Media Borough.

1.89 percent tax hike in Upper Providence.

5 years, how long teachers in the Chester Upland School District have been working without a new contract.

38, age of child porn suspect who found himself locked up again after violating his probation for having child porn on his computer.

5,392 dollars that flowed into Merry Christmas Fund over weekend.

22,214 dollars raised so far, almost half way to our goal of $50,000.

80,000 new books for children in the Philadelphia School District, courtesy of last summer’s Democratic National Convention.

48, age of Montco doctor jailed for child porn charges who was found dead in a county prison.

20 electoral votes cast for Donald Trump in Pa, including 1 from Delco GOP leader Andy Reilly.

304 electoral votes for Donald Trump; 227 for Hillary Clinton.

12 dead in Berlin after truck rammed into crowd of Christmas shoppers.

2-1 loss for Flyers in shootout last night to Predators

3 straight weeks at No. 1 for the Villanova Wildcats.

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

Anyone else think the Eagles should make Lane Johnson play Thursday night in a green Grinch outfit? After all, he stole our Christmas

I Don’t Get It: Another apparent terror attack involving truck ramming into a crowd in Germany.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who gave to the Merry Christmas Fund. With more than $5,000 rolling in this weekend, we’re half way to our goal.

Quote Box: “I personally think this complain is nonsense.”

- County Solicitor Michael Maddren, on suit filed by Church of Overcomer in Trainer seeking additional tax exempt status.

Time for decisions on Mariner East 2

Another town is raising concerns about Sunoco Logistics pipeline plans, referred to as Mariner East 2.

They join a growing list of municipalities and school districts in the western end of the county who are wondering about the potential pitfalls of pushing that massive volume of chemicals under high pressure through very densely populated neighborhoods, to say nothing of within a stone's throw of a local elementary school.

On our editorial page today, we note both the economic importance of this project, as well as the legitimate concerns of residents.

It's time for the state and/or county to address this critical issue head-on.

Have public hearings. Let the people - and Sunoco Logistics - have their say.

Then vote on the proposal and allow Sunoco Logistics to move forward with the project, or make the necessary adjustments.

It's very likely the most important economic story in the region, and we are in danger of falling behind other areas in the quest to become an energy hub.

Read our editorial here.

Did you notice the glaring error in Monday's print edition?

It's been often said that every writer needs a good editor.

At newspapers, one of the things we are dealing with is the absence of what we used to refer to as the copy desk. They were editors who read and edited stories, designed pages, and wrote the headlines and captions that appeared in the finished print product.

These days, all those sets of eyes are absent.

What was once unthinkable has now become routine.

Yes, fewer and fewer sets of eyes look at copy and pages before they hit print.

That last line of defense - the copy desk - is just one more reminder of how this business has changed.

I can't tell you how many times a solid copy desk has saved a reporter - or editor's - backside and allowed us to avoid looking incredibly silly.

I have often said that working here as I do in the early a.m. hours and posting content online - without the benefit of anyone else getting a chance to look at it - is something akin to what the Wallenda family used to do. Yes, it's a little bit like working without a net.

All of which is my way of wondering just how many people noticed the glaring error that accompanied my Monday print column. If you're an online reader - and thanks for reading by the way! - this will not pertain to you. This is instead directed to our longtime, loyal, ink-stained print readership.

I managed to quickly erase the error from our website, again reminding me of my favorite thing about the online world, a couple of keystrokes and - Voila! - what mistake?

I was writing about the fact that Ward Bond appeared in two classic movies, including one of my personal Top Fives. He portayed Bert the cop in the Christmas classic 'It's a Wonderful Life,' but I never realized until my wife told me that he also played Father Peter Lonergan in the John Wayne classic 'The Quiet Man.'

I finished off that column very early Sunday morning. Then I went about finding a photo of Bond, along with Ernie the taxi driver in 'Wonderful Life.'

But in putting together the caption for the photo that accompanied my column, I made a ridiculous error. Instead of referring to Ward Bond, I called him Burt Ward.

Now, as any Boomer can tell you, Burt Ward played Robin to Adam West's Batman in the campy classic based on the comic book hero.

That's the kind of thing that the copy desk would pick up on - and often times loudly announce in a crowded newsroom, much to the shame of the offending writer, in this instance me.

Instead, since I wrote the column, the caption and also laid out that page. As much as I would like to shirk the blame here and yell at someone for making such a silly error, the offending person is staring back at me in the mirror.

SpellCheck does not catch that kind of mistake; humans do.

As a paean to loyal readers, I can at least offer one more bit of trivia connected to that photo, passed along to me by a reader yesterday, one by the way who did not notice the glaring error in that caption.

The cab driver, Ernie Bishop (you know, that "guy who sits around on his brains all day," according to old man Potter), was portrayed by an actor named Frank Faylen.

Know who else he portrayed? Again, I'm hoping Boomers will get this one.

Yes, Frank Fayley also portrayed Dobie Gillis' father in the TV show, 'The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.' Merry Christmas, Boomers!

Just call Lane Johnson the Grinch - he stole our Christmas

Welcome back, Lane Johnson.

The guy should wear a Grinch outfit when he rejoins the Eagles Thursday night in their meaningless - at least for the Eagles - prime time matchup with the Giants.

You can make the argument that the tectonic plates of Eagles' season shifted upon the earthquake of a 10-game suspension slapped on their starting right tackle for a PED violation.

Forget for a moment that this was Johnson's second violation. Yes, I understand that he says he asked the union if the stuff he was taking was cleared for use. Doesn't matter. Johnson is responsible for what he puts in his body, and the moment that test came up 'dirty' the Eagles season - which started so promising - started to come unglued.

First off, Johnson very likely is the best player on the team, and just might be the best offensive lineman in the NFL.

Carson Wentz has not looked nearly as comfortable in the pocket in Johnson's absence. Those whispers about problems with his mechanics and throwing motion seem to get louder each year.

At one point the Eagles were 3-0. Then they hit that odd early bye week, gave away a game in Detroit, then had to deal with the Johnson suspension.

They are 2-10 since.

Johnson will be back in green Thursday night.

But it should be a Grinch suit, not Eagles green.

He stole our Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Dec. 19 (Eagles Edition)

The Daily Numbers: 2 point conversion that failed for Eagles, sealing their fate vs. Ravens yesterday.

4 seconds left in game when Carson Wentz crashed into end zone to pull Eagles within a point.

27-26 loss in Baltimore.

5-9 record for the Eagles.

9 losses in 11 games after starting season 3-0

8-6 record for the Ravens, who continue to cling to their playoff hopes.

169 yards rushing for the Eagles.

128 yards on 20 carries for Ryan Mathews.

4.4 yards per carry, what the Birds averaged.

1, as in No. 1 rushing defense in NFL for Baltimore coming into the game.

10 field goals of at least 50 yards for Ravens kicker Justin Tucker. Maybe one reason why Doug Pederson decided not to tempt overtime and go for the win.

31 of 32 kicks made by Tucker this year.

12 consecutive 50-yarders.

22 of 42 for 170 yards for Carson Wentz.

6 of 14 for 47 yards on 3rd down.

1 interception, on his 1st pass attempt of the game, which set up Ravens for an early TD and 7-0 lead. Terrible throw.

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

Don’t blame Doug Pederson and his decision to go for 2 for this loss.

I Don’t Get It
: How could Nelson Agholor manage to step out of bounds before hitting the sticks on a crucial 4th down carry late in the 4th quarter?

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Ryan Mathews. When this guy plays, he’s a great back. He just always seems to be hurt and misses too many games.

Quote Box
: “I had my mind made up before we scored. If we had a chance to win it, we were going to go for it.”

- Doug Pederson, on his decision to go for win instead of extra point and tie.

The 'Quiet Man' - 'It's a Wonderful Life' connection

I used my Monday print column today to talk about two great movies - one of which is the holiday classic 'It's a Wonderful Life.'

The other is a lock for my personal Top Five Movies of all time, the John Wayne-Maureen O'Hara Irish class, 'The Quiet Man.' But here's something I never knew until my wife pointed it out as we watched the Jimmy Stewart Christmas Classic a couple of weeks ago.

The two movies have something in common. Anyone have a guess as to what it is?

If the photo does not give it away, you can check it out here.

Going for Two Eagles Problems - and it's not the conversion try

All the talk this morning no doubt will be about Eagles head coach Doug Pederson's decision to go for two - and the win - as opposed to kicking the extra point and heading into overtime.

Carson Wentz crashed into the end zone for four ticks left on the clock, pulling the Birds within a point of the Ravens at 27-26.

I don't have a problem with Pederson's call. I do have a problem with a couple of other things I saw during the game. More on those later.

Bottom line is the Eagles were underdogs, on the road, in a season that really isn't going anywhere, why not go for the win right there instead of deal with the foibles of a coin toss and overtime.

Can you question the call, for a pass that got tipped at the line of scrimmage instead of running the ball on a day when the Eagles ground game was reeling off big chunks against what is a very good Ravens' defense. Especially, even more so that Ryan Mathews, who rushed for 128 yards in the game, was not even on the field.

So go ahead and argue the call if you so desire.

I will focus on two other things.

First, Nelson Agholor. Again.

On a crucial 4th-down play in the 4th quarter, Pederson decided to dial up his troubled wideout's number. On a slow-developing reverse, Agholor missed a gaping hole that would have required a sharp cut, instead opting to go wide. Agholor actually turned the corner and looked like he had a shot at the first down, but somehow managed to step out of bounds before he crashed into a couple of Ravens defenders at the marker, making the question moot. How can Agholor not have enough awareness to know it is 4th down and he can't step out before he gets to that marker. Maybe the same kind of thinking that so often sees Eagles receivers run 6-yard routes on third-and-eight.

Then there is Rodney McLeod. Again.

And again there will be questions about McLeod's desire after he took a somewhat circuitous route in going after an opposing running back who was steaming toward the Eagles end zone. I think McLeod could have gotten there sooner on SEPTA.

This follows a play a couple of weeks ago in Cincinnati when McLeod also failed to challenge a play at the goal line.

This one was different. There seems to me to be little question that McLeod could have met Kenneth Dixon well before the goal line. Instead he actually seems to be running beside the play before jumping on Dixon's back as he crashed into the end zone. That is the kind of play that will earn McLeod the ire of Philly fans.

It remains to be seen what kind of explanation it will spark from Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz.

The Eagles season is over. And plays like these made by Agholor and McLeod are a big reason why, not Doug Pederson's decision to go for two.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

Let me save you three and a half hours of your Sunday that you could spend challenging the madness at your local mall.

The Eagles are not going to beat the Ravens. They have no shot. In fact, the might just ride out this tailspin by losing out.

Raise your hand if you remember them being 3-0? When Doug Pederson was getting rave reviews? When defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was considered a lock for a head coaching gig?

Yes, the wheels have come off.

When exactly this all unraveled is hard to say, but I can give you a starting point. For some reason this was not the same team that arrived in Detroit after that bye week sporting a 3-0 record. They lost that game, one they should have won. They then handed games to both the Cowboys and Giants.

It's been all downhill ever since.

But there is another key point that should be mentioned. The 10-game suspension slapped on offensive right tackle Lane Johnson for PED use might be have been the fulcrum around which this season turned. He was probably the best player on this team, maybe the best offensive lineman in the league at the time. His absence, coupled with injuries to other key members of the OL decimated this offense. More importantly it made Carson Wentz, who appeared cool, calm and collected in those first three weeks, look very much like the confused, anxious rookie ever since. Don't look for that to change today.

The Eagles still have no offense. And the effort they get from their defense changes from week to week. Wentz has no weapons, no wide receivers and will feature an untested rookie running back.

Now Pederson realizes he's been throwing the ball entirely too much, putting the onus on this team on the shoulders of his rookie QB. Don't look for that to change. With no running game to speak of, look for Wentz to heave the ball all over the field again.

Wentz throw at least two picks as he's swallowed up by the Ravens' defense, and Joe Flacco continues the feast of NFL QBs on the Birds defensive backfield and their penchant for giving up big plays.

The Pick: Make it Ravens 27, Eagles 13. An easy win for Joe Flacco and the Ravens, as Carson Went, Doug Pederson and the Birds continue to look for the way out of this tailspin.

Last Week: The Eagles were on the verge of doing something they have yet to do under Wentz - pull off a last-minute drive to rally for a big win. Wentz drove the team inside the the Redskins’ 20 yard line when backup right tackle Matt Tobin did an ole on Ryan Kerriganm, who slammed into Wentz, forcing a fumble. The Redskins recovered the the game was over. I’m not taking any joy in riding against the Birds one more time improved my prognostication record to three games over the .500 mark at 8-5. In the meantime, the Birds are sinking like a stone, looking like a team that has packed it in 5-8.

Game by Game: Redskins 27, Eagles 22 (My Pick: Redskins 33, Eagles 17)

Bengals 32, Eagles 14 (My Pick: Bengals 17, Eagles 13)

Packers 27, Eagles 13 (My Pick: Packers 27, Eagles 23)

Seahawks 26, Eagles 15 (My Pick: Seahawks 24, Eagles 13)

Eagles 24, Falcons 15 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Falcons 29)

Giants 28, Eagles 23 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Giants 17)

Cowboys 29, Eagles 23 (My Pick: Cowboys 29, Eagles 24)

Eagles 21, Vikings 10 (My Pick: Vikings 26, Eagles 13)

Redskins 27, Eagles 20 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Redskins 23)

Lions 24, Eagles 23 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Lions 10)

Eagles 34, Steelers 3 (My Pick: Steelers, 26, Eagles 23)

Eagles 29, Bears 14 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Bears 16)

Eagles 29, Browns 10 (My Pick: Eagles 19, Browns 13)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Dec. 13

The Daily Numbers: 4 terms in the U.S. House for Republican Pat Meehan. Speculation is mounting that he may challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Casey.

219,314 votes for Meehan in his re-election win over Democrat Mary Ellen Balchunis, who picked up 147,808 votes in the 7th District race.

0 tax hike in Chester Township.

9 mills tax rate will remain unchanged.

21, age of woman wanted in Upper Darby for threatening her mother and grandmother with a gun.

1 person killed when a homeowner in Chester put down a suspected home invader.

485 dollars that rolled into the Daily Times Merry Christmas Fund yesterday.

3 weeks, how long a 20-year-old man has been missing in East Lansdowne.

2 new leaders who will sit atop the Rose Tree Media School Board.

150 stores planned by German supermarket giant Lidl, including one in Ridley.

3.8 percent hike in bills for Comcast customers

10 years in jail for former U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah from Philly.

2,970,733 votes in Pa. for Donald Trump, according to the certified results.

2,926,441 for Hillary Clinton

146,715 for Gary Johnson.

49,941 for Jill Stein.

7 Eagles who joined the injured list in game against Redskins.

3 will miss the rest of the season.

162 consecutive games played by long snapper Jon Dorenbos. That’s just 1 short of team record, which he now will not break, thanks to a broken wrist. Instead he will share the record with wide receiver Harold Carmichael.

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

The talk now is centering on whether the Eagles should sit Carson Wentz. Yep, they’re out of it.

I Don’t Get It: 3,500 hours of overtime in one year. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Ethan Doyle. The Garnet Valley youth visited Santa and instead of asking for gifts for himself instead said he wanted help for a local family who lost everything in a fire. Nice kid.

Quote Box: “I know Pat’s hearing a lot of enthusiasm about his candidacy.”

- Delco GOP leader Andy Reilly, on possibility Pat Meehan will challenge U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr.

A Christmas wish for Nick's House

I'm a sucker for a story with a good ending.

You might have noticed there has been quite a bit of debate over the pros and cons of the HEADstrong Foundation using a sprawling old home in Swarthmore as a free temporary residence for cancer patients and their care givers who are in the region to receive treatment.

In fact, I wrote about it in my Monday Letter From the Editor print column.

One of the factors I talked about was the misconception that some complained about, that our coverage unfairly branded all of Swarthmore as opposing the plan.

In fact, Christine Reuther, the attorney representing HEADstrong in the matter before the borough council, pointed out in a Facebook post that the majority of borough residents were supporting and had reached out to the group to offer their help.

Last night I got an email from Reuther. She wanted to let me know that HEADstrong officially closed on the purchase of the South Chester Road home Monday and will now proceed with getting the house ready to host families battling cancer.

They also got a message from the community.

This sign was placed on the front door of the home last Friday. It states:

Nick's House

We Welcome You With Open Hands,

From Your Neighbors, Swarthmore Presbyterian Nursery Day School AM Kindergarten Class.

It is signed by the kids.

Somewhere, Nick Colleluori is smiling.

3,500 hours of overtime?

What do you think would happen if you turned in a time card with 3,500 hours of overtime?

Think maybe your employer would be just a tad inquisitive?

That's just one of the riddle in the latest economic mess coming out of the city of Chester. A city police officer in one year recorded those 3,500 hours of OT.

A report last week from state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale indicated that the city's municipal pension plans are on the brink of collapse.

One of the problems is that costs are being driven up by the overtime racked up by police and firefighters.

We talk about it on today's editorial page.

The Eagles are no longer front page news

Jeffrey Lurie has a problem.

It's right there on the front page of our Monday newspaper. It also was apparent on the front page of Monday's Philadelphia Daily News.

Or perhaps better said, it's not there.

Oh, there is a "teaser" to the latest Eagles loss. But the Eagles are no longer leading the front page on Mondays. There was a time when that would be unthinkable. Not anymore.

It's not the first time either. Last Monday, after that dreadful effort vs. the Bengals, the Birds were not the lead story in either newspaper.

The most important decision I make here most days is what will lead our front page. We use it as a billboard to lure readers into the rest of the newspaper.

Yes, we use large headlines in an attempt to grab readers' attention. Some people call that "sensationalism." I call it classic tabloid journalism.

In a way, that is our front page's job. When I see someone stop and peer at one of our honor boxes, I know that front page is doing its job. When they lean in and take a close look, I have a smile on my face. When they plunk down their hard-earned cash to buy a copy, I say 'Mission Accomplished.' Of course when they sometimes open the box and take all the papers inside, I'm not quite as thrilled.

There was a time when I knew what my front page story was going to be just about every Monday in the fall.

Very simply put, in my best news judgment, the Eagles are becoming irrelevant.

They lost again Sunday, giving up a first half lead another NFC East foe, the Redskins, and once again seeing an attempt by rookie QB Carson Wentz to lead the team to victory with a last-minute drive come up short.

They are now 5-8 after starting the season 3-0. They are winless against the NFC East.

Don't blame Lentz. I think he's the real deal.

It's the rest of the team that is not.

And apparently I'm not alone.

Did you notice anything strange about the Linc on Sunday? Unless I missed something, it looked less than full.

All of this should be a concern to Lurie. He hired a no-name coach who had never been a head coach in the NFL when he turned the reins of the team over to Doug Pederson. Fans immediately chafed at the idea of Pederson being "Andy Reid Lite," since Pederson was the former' longtime Eagles head coach's offensive guy in Kansas City.

Lurie allowed this team to come into a season with a rookie quarterback and almost no offensive weapons.

He then maybe the best player on the team, right offensive tackle Lane Johnson, inexplicably pick up a second PED violation, thus earning a 10-week vacation and sabotaging the team's season.

Yes, the Eagles surprised everyone with a 3-0 start. Pederson, Howie Roseman and Wentz were the talk of the town. The Eagles have lost 8 of 10 since then.

They are winless against NFC opponents, with dates remaining against both the Giants and Cowboys that sure look like losses.

Now there is talk that maybe the team should shelve Wentz for the rest of the season instead of risking him in front of banged -up offensive line, including right tackle Matt Tobin, a backup pressed into service who almost got the rookie signal caller killed in the final minute of Sunday's Redskins' game. Wentz was driving the Eagles to what could have been a signature comeback win. Instead, he got blindsided, coughed up the ball - and the game. The Redskins recovered, took a knee and walked off with a win they probably didn't deserve.

Lurie now is facing perhaps the ultimate in Philly sports ignominy.

His Eagles are no longer front page news.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Dec. 12 (Eagles Edition)

The Daily Numbers: 27-22 loss for the Eagles to the Redskins yesterday.

5-8 record for the Birds. Forget the playoffs.

8 losses in 10 games since that 3-0 start.

4 straight losses for Eagles.

5 straight losses to the Redskins.

17 yard line, where the Eagles were sitting, driving for winning score, when Ryan Kerrigan blew by Matt Tobin and leveled Carson Wentz, who coughed up the ball, which the Redskins fell on with 12 seconds left.

25-yard TD for Chris Thompson was the winner.

1:53 left on the clock, plenty of time for Carson Wentz to drive the Birds to a win, something he has not done yet this season. He still hasn’t.

80 yard TD pass for DeSean Jackson.

1.5 sacks for Fletcher Cox.

2 long snappers that went down with injuries for Eagles.

72 yard punt return by Darren Sproles called back for illegal block by Zach Ertz.

32 of 46 for 314 yards and one INT for Wentz.

1 crucial fumble with game on the line.

10 catches for 110 yards for Ertz.

7 catches for another tight end, Trey Burton.

5 lead changes in the game.

0-4 record for Eagles in games vs. NFC East foes.

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

Matt Tobin. Meet this week’s whipping boy, replacing Zach Ertz.

I Don’t Get It: Wondering why Pederson thought it was a good idea to have Tobin with no help against Ryan Kerrigan.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Zach Ertz for coming back with solid, 10-catch effort after all that controversy over his non-block last week.

Quote Box: “We didn’t finish at the end, We had a chance to finish the game and win it on offense and we didn’t do that.”

- Carson Wentz.

Forget fake news; social media and comments might be bigger problem

Usually when I find myself under attack for the newspaper's coverage of a story, I'm being lit up from one specific point of view.

When I'm being attacked by both sides I usually know what's up.

Politics.

When both sides are complaining, I figure we probably have the story just about right.

But that tried and true equation got stood on its head by a story that has dominated our pages the past few weeks.

That would be our coverage of the HEADstrong Foundation and their proposal to use a sprawling, old home in Swarthmore Borough as a temporary free residence for cancer patients and their care givers who are in this area getting treatment.

Look, I've been doing this awhile. I pretty much knew what the reaction was going to be when a small group of neighbors opposed the plan. They did not see this as especially controversial. In fact, they viewed it as a fairly mundane, even boring end-around being done on the borough's zoning and other codes.

They should have checked with me. I could have told them what was coming.

On online storm.

They were not in the office when I offered to the staff that, while I understood their position and was offering them a platform to explain it, which one neighbor did, I also was convinced of something else: There was no way what they were doing was going to be perceived as anything other than the classic NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) stance. They got all that and worse. They were not especially happy with our coverage, in particular what they clearly believed was our opening the floodgates of social media, where they were being flogged unmercifully.

Here's what I did not expect.

A lot of people who supported the HEADstrong plan weren't all that enamored of our coverage either.

I used my weekly Letter From the Editor to talk about one of the most heated stories we've dealt with in years.

And also as a window into this new world of journalism - in particular the online world of anonymous commenters, Twitter rants and Facebook attacks.

Ironically, I'm not the only one thinking about it.

I notice my old pal and Daily Times alum Bill Bender did a piece for the Philly Inquirer and Daily News on this whole commenting phenomenon.

A lot of people are talking about what some see as the proliferation of so-called "fake" news.

I'll be honest with you. I"m not sure that pales in comparison to what is happening on social media and comment boards. Yes, I know we are one of the main purveyors of all this, often times driving the conversation.

I'm still not convinced all of this is a good thing.

Call me a dinosaur. You won't be the first one. But keep an eye on what is happening online. It is dangerous, and it has consequences.

Forget the Eagles; the 'Sons of Ben' movie is on Netflix

I'm going to try not to talk or blog about the Eagles this morning.

They lost - and they did so without me, at least for the first half.

For the second straight week, I did something I have not done very often in my 61 years on this planet. I skipped the Eagles. I have some other things on my mind right now and was running some errands yesterday.

When I finally got back home and plopped down in front of the TV, I was somewhat surprised to see the Birds holding a 13-7 halftime lead.

Maybe I should have stayed away.

I brought them bad karma. Of course, the Redskins immediately scored 14 unanswered points in the third period to take the lead. The Eagles struck back with a Pick-6, only to see the Redskins take the lead again.

So the stage was set - once again - for Carson Wentz to do something he has yet to do in his rookie season. That would be engineer a game-winning drive with time expiring on the block.

Actually, he seemed well on his way to doing just that, driving the Birds down the field and into scoring position at the Redskins 17-yard line.

That's when Doug Pederson decided Matt Tobin, forced into action at right tackle because of injuries, was up to the task of taking on Redskins tackle Ryan Kerrigan one-on-one. The result was about what you might expect. Kerrigan blew by him and blew up Wentz, who did not seem to sense the pressure - again. The ball squired loose and the Redskins fell on it. One knee-down later and the Eagles' season was officially over.

They are now 5-8. They have lost 8 of 10 since that 3-0 mirage of a start.

Let me remind you. This is not a good time. In fact, in the immortal words of the late Dennis Green, they are who we thought they were, a mediocre team.

In more important local sports news, our Chester City Blogger Stefan Root reminds us that the great film they made on the Sons of Ben and the arrival of Major League Soccer in the city of Chester is now available on Netflix.

Make sure you check out Stefan's blog here.

Always Sunny in Philly? How about always hyping the weather in Philly

I just drove into the office.

I don't have double-scan radar. I don't have Doppler. I don't have Accu-Weather.

I do have eyes, however.

The roads are wet.

Oh, wait a second.

BREAKING NEWS: We can report - somewhat less than exclusively - that the roads are wet. That happens when it rains.

I did not, however, encounter any snow. Or ice. Or slick spots.

Hell, this morning I didn't even encounter any deer, something of a novelty these days.

None of this is going to keep the local TV stations from reporting breathlessly this morning about the road conditions.

And they just might expand the Philly suburbs to Buffalo in their search for snow.

All I can tell you is what I experienced with my own two eyes this morning. The roads are wet. It's fairly miserable out, with a cold rain.

My guess is that at some point - maybe even later this week - we will see some snow.

That is what happens in winter, despite my fervent wishes for it to remain in the 80s and sunny.

Always sunny in Philadelphia?

Well, I don't know about that. What I do now is that it is always about the hype in Philadelphia when it comes to the weather.

Get the full forecast here.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

This is getting ugly.

It's finger-pointing time as what was a promising first year for Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz circles the drain.

The Eagles did the one thing a Philly team simply cannot do in a dreadful Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati. They mailed it in.

Doug Pederson pretty much confirmed that at his Monday press conference when he responded "not everybody," to a question as to to whether everybody on the team gave 100 percent.

It's been the talk of the week.

What isn't being talked about - but should be - is the fact that there simply is not a lot of talent on either side of the ball with this Eagles team. Carson Wentz is basically alone, and he's not being helped by a coach who dials up an unthinkable 60 pass plays. Ryan Mathews is supposed to be back this week, but if there is one thing you can count on with this team is that he will get hurt again. He's great when he's on the field, but he can't stay on it. Wentz desperately needs a solid running game.

Maybe more concerning is the other side of the ball, where the Eagles appear to have some talent but are not playing that way.

Fletcher Cox has been a huge disappointment after signing a big contract. Connor Barwin is invisible. The Eagles get absolutely no pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and their defensive backs play very soft. That translates into another big day for Kirk Cousins, who usually racks up big days against the Eagles. I don't see any reason for that to change.

Sure, the Eagles have played better at home this year. But that's when the game meant something. This team is now pretty much consigned to playing out the string.

It could get even uglier out there Sunday.

The Pick: Make it Redskins 33, Eagles 17. The Eagles just don't match up well against the Redskins these days. The last time in D.C. the 'Skins basically jammed the ball down the Birds' throats. I don't see it chaning this time around, especially with some of the Eagles looking for a soft place to land.

Last Week: I didn't expect the Eagles to win, but I at least thought they would show up. This one was over quick. It was 29-0 before the Birds managed to get on the board. Everyone had a hand in this one. Carson Wentz played like a rookie. The defense non-chalanted their way into a huge hole. The team has the look of a group that is quitting on their coach. Picking against the Birds one more time improved my prognostication record to two games over the .500 mark at 7-5. In the meantime, the Birds are headed in the other direction, faced with playing out the string at 5-7. Even if they won all four of their remaining games, they likely would not make the playoffs.

Game by Game: Bengals 32, Eagles 14 (My Pick: Bengals 17, Eagles 13)

Packers 27, Eagles 13 (My Pick: Packers 27, Eagles 23)

Seahawks 26, Eagles 15 (My Pick: Seahawks 24, Eagles 13)

Eagles 24, Falcons 15 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Falcons 29)

Giants 28, Eagles 23 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Giants 17)

Cowboys 29, Eagles 23 (My Pick: Cowboys 29, Eagles 24)

Eagles 21, Vikings 10 (My Pick: Vikings 26, Eagles 13)

Redskins 27, Eagles 20 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Redskins 23)

Lions 24, Eagles 23 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Lions 10)

Eagles 34, Steelers 3 (My Pick: Steelers, 26, Eagles 23)

Eagles 29, Bears 14 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Bears 16)

Eagles 29, Browns 10 (My Pick: Eagles 19, Browns 13)

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Dec. 9

The Daily Numbers: 2, age of little Mason Hunt, who died of abuse. His mother and her boyfriend are on trial in his death.

2 charter schools seeking the OK to set up operations in Upper Darby.

1993, when Darren Alston joined the Chester Police Department. He announced his retirement this week.

89 bed Hilton Candlewood Estates hotel set to break ground in the city next spring.

39 years, how long they have been holding their special holiday celebration at the Schoolhouse Center in Nether Providence.

16 employees being laid off at Valley Forge Military Academy in Radnor.

275 person sales force getting the ax at Endo in West Whiteland.

700 jobs being eliminated in North America by Astra Zeneca, including some at its Wilmington HQ.

95, age of American hero, astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn, who died Thursday.

69, age of rock icon Greg Lake, who formed King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. He also died, continuing a horrific year of losses in the music biz.

35 people now believed killed in heroin overdoses in Philly in the past 5 days.

11-22 years in jail, what prosecutors are seeking for former U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah.

143 of 228 precincts in Chester County where they will recount paper ballots.

190,462 ballots that will be recounted.

7 straight wins for the Flyers.

6-5 win over the Edmonton Oilers last night.

2 times the Flyers scored 3 goals in a row to rally for the win.

1:20 to go, when Mark Raffl scored the game winner, capping rally from 2 goals down.

23 game road losing skid snapped by the Sixers.

99-88 win over the Pelicans in New Orleans.

11 months ago, the last time the Sixers won on the road.

14 points and 4 blocks for Joel Embiid.

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

Break up the Flyers!

I Don’t Get It: Donald Trump has announced he is going to say on as boss of ‘The Apprentice’ TV show ever after he becomes president. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Darren Alston, who announced his retirement as Chester’s top cop.

Quote Box: “Throughout my career I hope and pray that I have helped people along the way, hopefully more than I have arrested.”

- Darren Alston, on retiring as Chester Police commissioner.

The art of the deal with Harrah's: Strictly business

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a long-time Delco pol who made a point I had not thought of.

He was commenting on the election of Donald Trump, and then segued into yesterday's big news of the day in these parts, the deal that was struck to keep money flowing from Harrah's Casino in Chester to both the county and city of Chester's coffers.

One of the key players in the deal was state Sen. Tom McGarrigle, R-26, of Springfield.

The pol was talking about Trump's flurry of actions in his first couple of weeks as president-elect when he made a comparison to McGarrigle.

"That's what happens when you elect businessmen," he said. "They get things done."

He went on to specifically say we could use more businessmen in office, as opposed to lawyers. McGarrigle had lots of help from Sen. Tom Killion and others in the Delco delegation.

McGarrigle for years operated a service station in Springfield before running for township commissioner. From there he pole-vaulted to County Council, eventually becoming chairman. He ran and won the 26th District state Senate seat that was vacated by the retiring Sen. Ted Erickson.

On our editorial page today, we talk about just how important the deal with Harrah's was to the county, and even more so to the city of Chester.

When you get your county tax bill next year, you will notice it's the same as last year.

That would not have happened without the deal with Harrah's, which means that $4.3 million will continue to go to the county, while Chester will continue to receive $10 million, a quarter of its annual revenue.

In deference to the president-elect, I guess you could call this Delco's version of The Art of the Deal.

Nice work, guys.

Baby, it's cold outside

We have breaking news!

It's December - and it's cold out.

We can report exclusively that it was brisk when we left the house this a.m. It's been awhile since I've seen the car thermometer register in the 20s, but that's what it said.

Brace yourself, not for the cold, but for all the hot air coming from TV this morning as they breathlessly inform us of a cold snap that is going to put us in the deep freeze all weekend.

Attention Eagles fans, dress warmly for that Sunday date vs. the Redskins at the Linc. The temperature is not expected to climb out of the 30s either Saturday or Sunday.

Lows will be in the 20s.

And just to top it off, we have a chance for a dusting of snow Sunday night into Monday morning.

I can hardly wait for the Monday morning TV newscasts.

Where did I leave my ruler? Need to be able to stick it in the snow, of course.

You can get the full forecast here.

Break up the Flyers!

Here's a little sports trivia to warm your heart on a cold Friday morning.

When is the last time two Philly pro sports teams won on the same day?

Someone get a hose and put out the Flyers - they're on fire.

The orange and black remained red hot last night, rallying to win their seventh straight game by overcoming Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers, 6-5, in a classic at the Wells Fargo Center.

Rob Parent has all those details.

And speaking of streaks, the Sixers snapped a 23-game road skid by topping the Pelicans, 99-88, in New Orleans. Now if only the Eagles could get on board.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Dec. 8

The Daily Numbers: 14 million dollars in casino revenue that will continue to flow to both the county and city of Chester under deal reached yesterday.

4.3 million for Delaware County.

10 million for the city of Chester

26 percent of the city’s budget.

0 tax hike in the Delaware County budget, something that likely would not have happened without this deal.

61.2 million dollars in unfunded liabilities in Chester’s city pension plans.

9 million dollars the city owes in employer contributions to the police fund.

6 million dollars owed to 3 other employee plans for 2016.

3,500 hours of overtime worked by one officer in a single year.

15.3 hours a day for 365 days a year, what that works out to.

25,000 dollar reward posted for information leading to suspect in Chester post office robbery.

1,940 given to the Merry Christmas Fund yesterday.

6,670 total for the fund toward our goal of $50,000 so far this year.

100 bruises found on the body of little Mason Hunt. His mother and boyfriend are on trial in connection with his death

3.5 million dollar fine slapped on Pa. gas driller Rice Energy Inc.

297 point jump for the Dow Jones yesterday.

19,549.62 close for the markets.

66-63 loss for Temple to George Washington last night.

81-52 win for Penn over Lafayette

1, as in the UConn women, who turned back Notre Dame, 72-61.

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

The Eagles should be preparing for the Redskins, a team that dominated them earlier this year. Instead the conversation is being dominated about the effort the Birds gave Sunday in a dismal loss vs. the Bengals. This team could go one of two ways: Unite & fight; or throw in the towel and mail it in for final 4 games.

I Don’t Get It: There is almost nothing worse than reading the testimony in an abuse case involving a child. Just heart-breaking.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Sens. Tom McGarrigle and Tom Killion for crafting a deal that will keep money flowing from Harrah’s Casino in Chester.

Quote Box: “They know how important these revenues are to the county and the city of Chester and they agreed to continue these payments.”

- County Councilman John McBlain, on Harrah’s actions to keep money flowing to county and city of Chester.

It's deal to keep casino money flowing

Any way you look at it, $14 million bucks is a big number.

Unlike professional athletes or big-time entertainers, when you start dealing with municipal budgets, this starts adding up to real money real fast.

Back in September, the state Supreme Court sent shock waves across Pennsylvania, at least those areas that play "host" to one our new-fangled casinos.

Here in Delaware County, that means Harrah's down on the waterfront in Chester.

The court ruled in favor of one of the state's smaller, so-called "boutique" casinos who had filed suit, saying the host agreements with casinos was unfair. Naturally, this was all about money as well. The way the deals were set up, the little guys in the casino biz made the argument that thet paying more than they should. The court agreed, and blew up the deals.

That left Delaware County and the city of Chester in a bit of a panic.

Those host agreements mean big bucks to both the city and county. Delaware County gets $4 million from Harrah's. Chester is even more dependent on gaming revenue, owing as much as a quarter of its annual budget from the gaming mecca along Route 291.

Yesterday, state Sens. Tom McGarrigle, R-26, of Springfield, and Tom Killion, R-9, of Middletown, announced a deal that will keep the money flowing.

That means the county will continue to get its annual $4.9 million haul, and Chester will not have to due without its $10.5 million payment.

Delaware County Council unanimously signed off on the deal at yesterday's meeting.

You can get all the details here.

The Swarthmore debate is not over

The battle for 'Nick's House' is not over.

The Swarthmore neighbors who opposed the HEADstrong Foundation's request to use an old home as a temporary residence for cancer patients and their caregivers are planning to appeal the unanimous ruling from borough council in favor.

Meanwhile, on our editorial page, we take a look at this most controversial story.

I say controversial story from the point of view that most people took, incredulous that anyone would oppose this request.

That's not the way the neighbors viewed it.

It all made for a textbook example of democracy and civics in action.

You can read the editorial here.

All About the Eagles

Doug Pederson and the Eagles are entering very dangerous territory.

The coach, who has a tendency to speak his mind, unlike most big-time coaches, may have bit off more than he can chew at his Monday day-after presser following that dreadful performance against the Bengals.

In response to a question about his team's effort from longtime radio and TV guy Howard Eskin, Pederson stunned just about everyone with his response to whether he believed everyone gave maximum effort in Cincinnati.

"Not everybody."

It did not take long for that heat-seeking missile to hit the locker room.

Two players seem to be the focus of much of the talk.

Zach Ertz is taking heat for passing on a block as his quarterback Carson Wentz scrambled for the sideline. Safety Rodney McLeod has been questioned about his effort on a Bengals' score at the goal line.

I like Doug Pederson.

That does not mean I don't think he has made mistakes. Actually, I think at least two Eagles losses are directly attributed to some of his actions.

I especially like his outgoing nature and honest answers when he's asked a question.

That's even more so after more than a decade of Andy Reid, who simply never gave you anything, and a couple of years of Chip Kelly, whose arrogance did little to hide his dislike for the media and actually being asked questions.

The Eagles should be preparing for a team they do not match up well against. That would be the Redskins.

Instead of putting the wagons in a circle and hunkering down for one last stand in these final four games, the Eagles are trying to patch up internal squabbling.

They can either bond, unite behind Pederson, and lay it all on the line.

Or pack it in.

Of course, some people think they already did that last Sunday.

Bob Grotz has the latest on the Eagles drama.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The day that changed the world

It is the day that changed the world.

The "day that will live in infamy."

One thing I learned a very long time ago in this business is that you can do a lot of things, but not taking time to mark the anniversary of Pearl Harbor is not one of them.

On our editorial page today, we talk about the importance of the day, and how some of the lessons derived from that horrific day still reverberate in a very special place in Media.

Read it here.

It's time for another season of All-Delcos

It's a very special time of the year.

Not just because of the holidays, but because as one high school sports season ends and another begins, that means it's time for another showing of Delco's best and brightest.

Today we kick off the Fall All-Delco teams.

The parade is headed by Lizzie King of Strath Haven, our All-Delco Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

You can get all the details here, as well as seeing all the rest of the All-Delco Girls Soccer Team.

Here's our schedule for the rest of the week.

Thursday: Cross country

Dec.13: Boys Soccer

Dec.14: Field Hockey

Dec.15: Volleyball

Dec.16: Football

'Golden Rhule' finds greener pastures

We have a winner in the least surprising sports news of the week.

No, not that some Eagles dogged Sunday while getting their lunch handed to them by the lowly Cincinnati Bengals.

Matt Rhule is leaving Temple.

Raise your hand if you saw this one coming.

As the wins piled up over the past two seasons, Rhule would constantly be asked of his future plans, and if he had his eye on a bigger job with a bigger school.

Every time he said the right thing, that he was happy at Temple coaching these kids and had no plans to leave. Right up until Tuesday morning.

That's when he called Temple officials and informed them he was taking the job at Baylor.

Actually, the news first popped up on the Baylor website.

Rhule will not be coaching the Owls when they face Wake Forest in the Military Bowl in Annapolis in a few weeks.

He's be busy putting together a staff and starting the process of rebuilding a Baylor program that is in shambled after a sex assault scandal embroiled the team and the entire university.

We don't hold it against Rhule. Just like we didn't hold it against Al Golden or Steve Addazio.

This is what happens at schools like Temple. As soon as a coach builds a winning program, bigger schools came calling.

Rhule probably held out longer than most.

Apparently he could not resist the lure of Baylor.

Get all the details here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Dec. 6

The Daily Numbers: 6-0 vote, with 1 abstention, by Swarthmore Borough Council to reject the appeal by neighbors to use of a borough home by the HEADstrong group as a temporary residence for cancer patients.

14 people who could be housed at the sprawling home on South Chester Road.

7 cancer patients and 1 caretaker for each of them who would be accommodated.

700,000 dollars, how much HEADstrong paid for the home.

600 dollars in cash and coins taken during an armed heist of an Upper Darby laundromat during which a worker was terrorized and locked in a storage closet.

2 suspects are being sought in the heist.

1 driver being sought after going the wrong way on I-95 to elude police and a possible speeding ticket before slamming into another car, and then fleeing on foot.

40, age of Aston man charged with having sex with a 16-year-old girl who was a victim of sex trafficking.

1 person fatally shot in broad daylight just before 3 p.m. at an Upper Darby intersection.

9 heroin overdoses reported in the Kensington section of Philadelphia over the weekend.

19,216.24, record closing for the Dow Jones yesterday.

45.82 point spike yesterday for the markets.

3.8 billion dollar crude oil pipeline in North Dakota that has been halted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

2 billion dollars invested in the nearly completed project by Sunoco Logistics of Newtown Square and its parent company Energy Transfer Partners.

106-98 loss for the Sixers to the Nuggets last night.

7 straight losses for the 76ers.

7 points for Chester High product Jameer Nelson for Denver.

34, age of the all-time Chester great, who played 30 minutes last night.

1, as in No. 1, back on top of the college hoops polls for Villanova.

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

Doug Pederson admitted at his day-after presser Monday that maybe not all of his players gave 100 percent effort in that dreadful loss to the Bengals Sunday. No kidding.

I Don’t Get It: Nine people are believed to have lost their lives to heroin overdoses in one notorious section of Philadelphia over the weekend. Bucks County also is reporting a spike in ODs. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the HEADstrong group and those who battled to be able to use a Swarthmore home as a temporary residence for cancer patients. Council voted 6-0 to reject an appeal against the use by some neighbors.

Quote Box: “Until you hear the words, this is just historic, it’s monumental, it’s for Nick and it’s for everybody who follows in his footsteps.”

- Cheryl Colleluori, after the 6-0 vote by Swarthmore Borough Council in HEADstrong’s favor.

HEADS Up! A win for HEADstrong in Swarthmore

One of the challenges we face in putting together our print edition every day is something we call our 'black line.'

That's how we refer to our lead headline on Page One.

If you're a fan of 'The Paper,' the Michael Keaton movie based on a New York City tabloid newspaper, you'll remember they refer to it as 'The Wood.'

Both terms are part of old-time journalism lore. Today, in the face of breaking news online, posting on Twitter and Facebook, we still take a lot of time in crafting our front page presentation every day.

For tabloids like us, which do not use text or stories routinely on their front page, as opposed to our broadsheet print counterparts, that means we often are left trying to deliver what can be very complicated stories and breaking them down to just a few precious words to deliver the story with as much impact as we can.

I think we did just that again this morning.

Today's front page delivers the result of last night's much-anticipated Swarthmore Borough Council meeting with just two words: HEADS Up!

That, of course, is a reference to the HEADstrong Foundation's push to use a sprawling old home in Swarthmore Borough as a temporary residence for cancer patients and their families who are receiving treatment in the region.

It is the legacy of Nick Colleluori, a former star athlete at Ridley High who conceived of the organization as he was battling the non-Hodgkins Lymphoma that eventually took his life.

After they got the initial OK from the borough's Accommodations Board, the HEADstrong request was met with opposition from a group of neighbors.

Last night Swarthmore Borough Council voted to reject their appeal and allow the use by HEADStrong.

The story has probably generated more response and interaction on social media than any story we've done in recent memory.

Give a big part of the credit for that to Cheryl Colleluori, Nick's mom and the head of HEADstrong.

She probably put it best, describing herself as a "mom on a mission."

You can get all the details here.

The link between North Dakota and Delco

We used our editorial page today to draw a parallel between what is happening out in North Dakota and right here in Delaware County.

What is the connection?

Pipelines.

In North Dakota, members of the Standing Rock Sioux are claiming victory in getting the Army Corps of Engineers to halt construction on the Dakota Access pipeline and indicate they would seek to re-route the project away from the tribe's sacred burial grounds and water source.

Here in Delco, a lot of people might be like-minded. They're not wild about the proposed path of Mariner East 2, a pipeline that would deliver hundreds of thousands of barrels of chemicals such as ethane, butane and propane from the state's Marcellus Shale regions to Marcus Hook.

The path of the pipeline would bring it within a few feet of a local elementary school in Middletown, just one of the reasons many residents are opposed to the project.

There is another common theme as well. Sunoco Logistics, the company behind Mariner East 2, also is deeply involved with Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access pipeline.

You can read the editorial here.

The connection between 'It's a Wonderful Life' & 'The Quiet Man'

File this one under the ever-growing file of "Things I Didn't Know.'

In my Monday print column I talked about my annual holiday mission - to embrace the holiday spirit.

It's a little inside joke I share with my daughter, whose sense of the holidays is second to none.

We call it getting 'imbued,' or instilled with the special spirit of Christmas and the holidays.

She is in charge of alerting me to our ritual of watching holiday movies and TV specials.

That is how I came to be on the couch Saturday night watching 'It's a Wonderful Life.'

A quick confession. I'm not the biggest 'It's a Wonderful Life' fan. Don't hate me. It's just a tad heavy on the schmaltz and syrup for my liking, although I can admit I still get a little misty-eyed at the end as George Bailey hugs his daughter and says, 'Atta boy, Clarence,' content in the knowledge that he has helped his friend "earn his wings."

Actually, I much prefer another Jimmy Stewart holiday movie my wife - the resident old black and white movie expert in the family - turned me on to. It's called 'The Shop Around the Corner.' It was actually on TCM Friday night, the night before we watched 'Wonderful Life' for the millionth time. I highly recommend it.

But I digress.

It was while we were watching 'It's a Wonderful Life,' and me noting that I don't especially care for it, that my wife informed me it something in common with one of my absolute favorite movies ever. If I ever actually sat down and created a Top 5 Favorite Movies list, 'The Quiet Man' would be right up, along with 'High Society.'

What I did not know is that the great John Wayne-Maureen O'Hara Irish epic shares something in common with 'It's a Wonderful Life.'

Any idea what it is?

That would be one Ward Bond.

He played Bert the cop in 'It's a Wonderful Life.' In fact, a lot of people believe they used that name, along with Ernie the cab driver, as the namesakes for Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street.

I've heard that a million times.

Here's something I did not know.

Ward Bond also played Father Peter Lonergan, parish priest, in 'The Quiet Man.'

I still can't believe I never made that connection.

Ward Bond had a prolific career, often teaming with John Wayne, who he met while they were students at USC, and director John Ford. He appeared in 26 Ford films.

He has appeared in seven of The American Film Institute's 100 Greatest American Movies.

But it is his role as Father Lonergan that captures my heart. He was at the center of the plot cooked up to get Will Danaher to allow the marriage of his sister Mary Kate (Maureen O'Hara) to Wayne, who had gone home to the town of his birth in Ireland after killing a man in the ring in America, only to make a mortal enemy of Danaher by buying his childhood home, which stood right next to Danaher's property.

For me, it is pure Irish movie magic.

Now if I could just figure out why exactly Bert the cop thought it was a good idea to open fire on George Bailey in the middle of that crowded street in what was by that time Pottersville, instead of Bedford Falls.

Oh, that's right, it's the movies.

I will likely continue to grit my teeth as I sit through 'It's a Wonderful Life.'

But I will do so now with a smile on my face every time I see Bert the cop.

Merry Christmas.

Hope this adds to your sense of being 'imbued.'

I think we all could stand to be a bit more 'imbued' these days.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Dec. 5

The Daily Numbers: 32-14 loss by the Birds to the lowly Cincinnati Bengals. Just embarrassing.

3-7-1 record for the Bengals coming into the game.

0 points scored by the Eagles in the 1st half.

29-0 Bengals before the Birds got on the board.

6 consecutive scores by the Bengals to start the game.

42 days since their last win.

60 passes attempted by Carson Wentz. Yeah, that’s going to work.

3 interceptions tossed by Wentz, who has his worst game as a pro.

7 losses in 9 games since Birds got out to 3-0 start.

15 completions for 164 yards for Wentz.

6 catches for Paul Turner, who caught everything in his general area. Yet it took this long to get him into the lineup.

14 catches for tight ends Zach Ertz and Trey Burton.

50, 44, 29, 23, 21 yard completions for Andy Dalton against Eagles porous defense.

0 sacks recorded by Eagles defense.

19 TD passes against Eagles in their last 9 games.

10 penalties for 88 yards against the Birds.

0 wins for the Eagles in 5 trips to Cincinnati. They do have a tie to go with 4 losses.

51 yard field goal missed by Caleb Sturgis.

10,000 empty seats in Cincinnati.

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

A new low when putting up the Christmas decorations is a more enticing option than watching the Eagles.

I Don’t Get It: Carson Wentz threw 60 passes. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to season ticket holders. Good luck trying to dump those three remaining home games.

Quote Box: “When you’re down, it’s natural to feel a sense or urgency. Maybe we call it pressing.”

- Eagles QB Carson Wentz

Decision Day in Swarthmore

It's decision day in Swarthmore.

For weeks we've chronicled the discussion over 'Nick's House' in Swarthmore.

The HEADstrong Foundation, which was founded by former Ridley star athlete Nick Colleluori even as he battled the non-Hodgkins Lymphoma that took his life, is in the process of buying a stately, old home in Swarthmore to use as a temporary residence for cancer patients and their families who are in the region to get treatment.

While their request got the initial OK from the borough Accommodation Board, that ruling has been appealed by a group of neighbors, who have raised concerns about parking, traffic, and whether or not the borough's zoning codes are being properly enforced in this case.

All of that will be decided tonight when Swarthmore Borough Council votes on the neighbors' appeal.

You can get all the details here.

We will be there tonight to bring you the decision.

It's time to get 'Imbued'

It's time to get 'imbued.'

Yes, I know that might be a tad more difficult this morning for Eagles fans.

So, what do I mean by being 'imbued?'

Well, actually I used my Monday print column to explain it - as well as pay homage to one of the single greatest lines in the history of film.

Here are the Daily Times, we celebrate the holiday season with the arrival of our annual fund drive to help the good work of the Chester Salvation Army. It's the 45th year we have offered the Daily Times Merry Christmas Fund.

Once again this year we are pushing to raise $50,000.

We also are celebrating on Page Two of the print edition every day, with our annual salute to all those great holiday decorations across the county.

Welcome back to "Homes for the Holidays."

You can read it all in my Monday Letter from the Editor.

Let me know if you disagree with my choice for one of the great lines ever in a movie.

George Bailey, I'll love that line 'til the day I die.

The real danger in embarrassing Eagle loss

The Eagles have landed.

With a thud.

How bad were the Birds yesterday in getting thrashed 32-14 by the Bengals.

The Eagles got shut out in the first half. It was 29-0 before the Doug Pederson's charges got on the board.

To the Bengals, who came into the game 3-7.

This was not the Patriots. Or the Broncos. This was the stinking Cincinnati Bengals.

Which tells you something about Jeff Lurie's team.

And all of this on a day when both the Giants and Redskins lost, which could have opened a door for the Eagles to resuscitate their faint playyoff hopes. Instead the Eagles were DOA in Cincinnati.

There are a lot of stories to come out of yesterday's disgraceful effort. The Eagles are a team bereft of talent on both sides of the ball. They have no weapons on offense, and no way to stop other team's efforts.

Compound that with a lack of effort - you can make a case that this team simply did not show up yesterday - and you have an indictment of the entire Eagles organization.

And that includes both of the team's rookies, first-year head coach Doug Pederson and fledgling quarterback Carson Wentz, who for some reason Pederson decided to have throw the ball 60 times yesterday.

The fact is there are now some fairly serious questions about Wentz, who is showing signs of mechanical problems that might explain why some teams were reluctant to hitch their wagon to him in the NFL draft.

Wentz has a hitch in his throwing motion, a strange wrist action in his release that results in high throws. When he throws the ball down the middle of the field, that is a guaranteed recipe for disaster, overthrowing receivers and sailing throws right into the arms of waiting safeties.

But there is even a bigger story at play here, one I experienced and one I am guessing a lot of other Eagles fans have hit as well.

I really no longer care.

Enough.

I've seen all this before. The Eagles as run by Jeff Lurie no longer seem capable of being a consistent, winning organization.

They had a great run with Andy Reid, but they have done nothing since.

That is the real danger here, at least for the Lurie and the Eagles.

They are in danger of coming in second to putting up Christmas decorations.

That hasn't happened in a long time, if ever.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

This is what rebuilding looks like - at least for the Eagles.

This one could set the NFL back a ways.

Two struggling teams will meet in Cincinnati when the Eagles arrive to tangle with the Bengals.

If you can remember the optimism that surrounded the Eagles, along with Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz as the Birds sprinted out to that 3-0 start, you're a good fan.

Pederson is a first-year coach; Wentz is a rookie quarterback. Both are beginning to look like it.

The truth is this is probably more representative of the Eagles than that mirage early in the season, including that impressive win vs. the Steelers.

Pederson in particular seems to have lost the imagination and touch he demonstrated - and his team is paying for it.

He's fallen into the Andy Reid playbook, abandoning a running game that would immensely help his young QB while controlling the game and keeping some potent offenses off the field.

Instead Pederson for some reason insists on throwing the ball, including an ugly effort vs. the Packers when the key to the game should have been to limit the time Aaron Rodgers had to dissect your defense.

The Bengals aren't nearly as good. They look like they will miss the playoffs again. They won't need to be all that good today. The Eagles arrive likely without their top two weapons, which I guess is a bit of a stretch. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews has a bum ankle; running back Ryan Mathews is out again with a knee injury. There's a stunner: Ryan Mathews is injured.

Pederson could load up with a huge diet of Wendell Smallwood, the running back who has given every appearance of being a solid lead back. Instead the guess here is that Pederson instead will try to have Wentz win the game again. Expect lots of 6-yard passes to Zach Ertz on third and eight.

On defense, the Birds can't possibly be as bad as they looked against the Packers.

Just about anything would be an improvement. They'll be better, just not good enough.

The Pick: Make it Bengals 17, Eagles 13. Offense could be strictly a rumor in this one. The Eagles are lousy on the road, the Bengals should kick enough field goals to get the win.

Last Week: I don't know what everyone else was thinking. I looked on one side and saw Aaron Rodgers, who is having a very good season even as the Packers have struggled. They are lining up a spot in Canton for Rodgers. How many Eagles can you say that about? The win pushed me over the .500 mark on the season at 6-5, while the Birds slumped to 5-6 mark, as they head back out on the road - where they have not fared well this season, against the Bengals.

Game by Game: Packers 27, Eagles 13 (My Pick: Packers 27, Eagles 23)

Seahawks 26, Eagles 15 (My Pick: Seahawks 24, Eagles 13)

Eagles 24, Falcons 15 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Falcons 29)

Giants 28, Eagles 23 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Giants 17)

Cowboys 29, Eagles 23 (My Pick: Cowboys 29, Eagles 24)

Eagles 21, Vikings 10 (My Pick: Vikings 26, Eagles 13)

Redskins 27, Eagles 20 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Redskins 23)

Lions 24, Eagles 23 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Lions 10)

Eagles 34, Steelers 3 (My Pick: Steelers, 26, Eagles 23)

Eagles 29, Bears 14 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Bears 16)

Eagles 29, Browns 10 (My Pick: Eagles 19, Browns 13)