Friday, March 31, 2017

Not just another press conference in Upper Darby

One of the habits you get in this job is noting dates and anniversaries.

But I have to admit I was taken aback early Thursday morning when I got a call from Upper Darby Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood. Now, a member of the media getting a call from Chitwood is not exactly breaking news. He is without question the most 'media friendly' law enforcement guy I've ever met in this racket. In other words, we love him.

So I wasn't surprised when he told me he was going to be holding a press conference Thursday afternoon. Actually, I did have to smirk just a bit at the time. Chitwood almost always holds his press conferences at 11 a.m. Only a true cynic (raise your hands all you news types) would suggest that is to make sure he gets on the noon news.

But yesterday that time was already booked by District Attorney Jack Whelan, who was announcing a laundry list of charges against a suspected serial rapist.

But I quickly stopped chuckling to myself when Chitwood told me why he was holding the press conference.

He was asked to by the family of Markia Benson. The name immediately registered. We covered the story extensively. She had been brutally beaten and murdered in her home in the Secane section of the township. The case remains unsolved.

But here's what I wasn't prepared for: Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of her death.

I couldn't believe it, had a year actually already gone by.

The family made a plea for anyone with information on the case to come forward, and also noted a new reward of $5,000 for information that could lead to Markia's killer.

You can read the story here.

On Sunday we will bring you the family's story, the ordeal they continue to live with every day, a year waiting for justice.

Time to 'reassess' education funding in Pa.

Maybe we should just send Delaware County Judge Charles Burr to Harrisburg to resolve the state's nagging problem with funding public education.

This week Burr relied on the "uniformity clause" to order a reassessment of every property in Delaware County. His thinking was pretty sound.

That clause in the state Constitution maintains that all properties be reviewed on an equal basis. That wasn't happening in Delaware County. New construction homes were being assessed at higher levels than older, existing homes.

It created an uneven playing field.

Now think about education funding in this state, in particular here in Delaware County. The folks at struggling districts such as William Penn know all about en uneven playing field.

Their kids for years have been penalized with a lesser education for no other reason than their zip code.

Maybe it's time to 'reassess' education funding in this state.

You can read our editorial here.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Hart of the matter for Chester kids

One of the things I am acutely aware of is how this newspaper represents the city of Chester.

There are a lot of people who wonder if we have it in for the city, that we are always looking for a way to take a shot at them, to portray the city and its citizens in a bad light.

For those I ask them to please take note of today's front page.

Yes, Chester is plastered all over it again today.

But this is not the usual treatment.

Instead we feature a lot of fresh you faces - and yes, a few politicians - having the time of their lives yesterday at the Sun Center Studios in Chester Township.

Oh, and of course there is one other non-Chester person in that photo.

That would be Philly native and Hollywood star Kevin Hart, who is filming some scenes for his upcoming movie 'Untouchable,' along with Bryan Cranston.

Hart took some time to meet the students, who were getting a tour of the facility.

Make sure you check out this Chester story here.

And we're going to give you more about this great group of kids on Sunday.

Watch for it.

Brace yourself for reassessment

It's one of the scariest words in real estate.

And if you own a home - especially an older home that has likely risen in value - you especially don't want to hear it.

So brace yourself, Delaware County. It's coming.


Delaware County Judge Charles Burr this week ordered a reassessment of every property in Delaware County - more than 200,000 of them.

Yes, it will likely cause some angst for homeowners.

But it was the right thing to do.

We explain it on our editorial page.

StoneMor finds a partner

Call them the Odd Couple.

A lot of people were not happy when the Archdiocese of Philadelphia got in bed with the private firm StoneMor to run the operations at its cemeteries, including SS. Peter & Paul in Marple.

Among those most irked were local funeral directors, who said the private company was using misleading tactics in selling some of the services at the cemeteries.

StoneMor dismissed the complaints, saying the local guys simply did not like the competition.

Since then, StoneMor has struggled, including now facing a lawsuit from shareholders.

So news that broke yesterday that StoneMor is now partnering up with another company probably shouldn't comes as a surprise - except for who it is.

StoneMor announced an agreement with the well-known Donohue Funeral Home to provide funeral services for its customers in the archdiocese.

You can read the story here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Putting a 'Dent' in health care debate

Are you still hoping that our elected representatives in Washington can put a "Dent" into the mess that Republicans made out of the health-care debate?

Well, you might be in luck.

Charlie Dent is a Republican who represents northeastern Pennsylvania in Congress.

Unlikely so many of his GOP counterparts, including Delco's own Rep. Pat Meehan, Dent did not hedge his bets when it came to the American Health Care Act.

He did not have to read any tea leaves. He did not consult and seers or soothsayers. Most important, he did not wait to see if this thing was actually ever going to go to a vote.

Dent went on the record before the House vote was delayed and before the bill was pulled by President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

He would not support the bill, and he was not going to hide that fact.

He took some heat for his stand - especially from fellow Republicans. But it was the right thing to do, and a breath of fresh air in a town where too many people have been playing it safe.

We talk about Dent on today's editorial page.

Attention Media Borough: Can you please fix this pothole?

Here's a note to Media Borough - and a warning for anyone driving through the county seat.

Watch out of the great Baltimore Pike pothole.

Actually, this isn't even a pothole.

I believe it's the result of some road work where crews were forced to dig up the road. They then filled it in and everything is hunky-dory, right?

Uh, not exactly. As often happens, the fill settled. Only in this instance, it REALLY settled, leaving a nasty pothole as you head east down the hill after passing the Court Diner. I think that's the intersection with Edgemont Street.

Every morning as I ride through the borough, I manage to hit this hole, which is threatening to loosen a few of my decades-old fillings.

Every time I remind myself to move over far enough to the right to miss it, and every morning in the early-a.m. darkness I manage to hit this thing.

I'm surprised I have not blown out that front left driver's side tire on that thing.

So here is my request? Can someone with the borough please go back and fill this thing in again?

Anyone else have the misfortune to hit this monster?

Jeff Lurie wants us to be patient

I have been a die-hard Eagles fan since I fell out of the womb.

I was at one time an Eagles season ticket holder and proud denizen of the 700 Level at Veterans Stadium.

In September, as the Birds kick off another season, I will be 62.

I have never seen the Eagles raise the Lombardi Trophy, emblematic of being Super Bowl champions.

Oh, I've seen them play in a few, the first when Ron Jaworski decided to make Oakland Raiders linebacker Rod Martin his favorite receiver for the day, throwing three interceptions in a brutal loss for Dick Vermeil.

It took decades for the Birds to get back, and then Andy Reid apparently forgot to look at the time block as he watched his team methodically march down the field against the Patriots, eating up the clock despite being down by two scores. At one point, Patriots coach Bill Belichick actually had to ask if the scoreboard was correct, if his team was actually trailing the Eagles, who seemed intent on running out the clock.

Last night, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie met the media at the NFL meetings in Phoenix.

Lurie has owned the team for 23 years and has zero Super Bowl championships to show for it, despite his insistent mantra of making the Birds the 'gold standard' of the NFL.

He asked the fans to be patient.



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Meehan sticks to middle ground in health care debate

The first thing you notice is his size.

He's well over 6 feet tall, a commanding presence.

Then there's that distinctive shock of silver hair.

Pat Meehan is in the house.

The congressman who represents the bulk of Delaware County paid a visit to our new office in Swarthmore Tuesday. He and his aide, John Elizandro reached out over the weekend, said they were going to be in the area, and wondered if they could drop by. I said sure - but with one caveat.

I wanted the session to be on the record.

I did not hear back from Elizandro until they showed up at the front desk.

I inquired again. Elizandro looked at his boss and asked him if he was alright with that. Sure, Meehan said.

What happened next was a 45-minute conversation in which Meehan laid out his stance on health care in the wake of last week's disastrous GOP decision to pull their American Health Care Act instead of facing a sure loss in the House vote.

Meehan talked about his move to push the bill out of the House Ways and Means Committee and out to a House vote as a way to move the legislative process forward.

But he said even then he had serious reservations about it. Those no doubt were reinforced by the weekly protests outside his office that drew hundreds opposed to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Meehan played this one right down the middle politically. It's a place he finds himself often.

Before the vote, he said he was undecided, still inspecting the legislation and talking to constituents.

Only after the bill was pulled did he put out a statement saying that he would have opposed the measure.

Yesterday in our office, he said that he actually had his mind up to oppose the measure on Thursday. Too bad he didn't feel the need to tell his constituents that until after the bill was pulled.

Now he will no doubt hear from Dems who will point to his vote in committee to move the bill forward.

But he didn't actually have to vote, sticking instead to his familiar, safe middle ground.

Don't take my word for it.

You can hear Meehan himself talk about it.

We have a podcast of the bulk of the interview.

You can listen to it here.

The Republican health care debacle

We used our editorial page today to revisit what can only be described as a cold slap in the face to President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and the rest of the Republican Party.

For seven years they ranted and passed ceremonial bills in Washington vowing to overturn the signature piece of legislation of President Obama, the Affordable Care Act. They did so knowing full well that it was little more than a ceremonial act. They knew it meant nothing because standing in the doorway to overturning the act was none other than President Obama with his veto pen.

During the campaign, Trump and Republicans again vowed that overturning Obamacare was Job 1.

Turns out it was Job None. Despite having seven years to be ready, instead Republicans had no semblance of a plan.

Repeal and replace turned into a madcap dash to repeal and come up with something that could be labeled a GOP plan.

It blew up in the Republicans' faces, who could not even get many of those in their own party to back it.

Threatened with an insurection from the right of their own party, zero support from Democrats and a lot of moderate GOP members riding the fence, it was left to Ryan to deliver the bad news to his president.

They didn't have the votes. In an attempt to ward off an ignominious defeat in their first major test under his leadership, Trump reluctantly pulled the bill.

Caught in the middle of all this was Delaware County state Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Chadds Ford.

Meehan was one of those voicing concern about the Republican plan. He started talking about "rescue and repair" instead of repeal and replace.

Meehan said he was still undecided just hours until the scheduled vote.

It was the smart political thing to do, but it might not sit well with his constituents, who held weekly rallies outside is Springfield office.

They are not likely to forget that he pushed this version forward with his vote to move it out of the House Ways and Means Committee.. Only after Trump pulled the bill Friday did Meehan note that he would have opposed this version.

The Republicans created this mess; now they need to fix it.

Only problem is Trump doesn't sound like he's particularly interested in revisiting the measure. That's just more partisan politics, counting wins and losses, the usual Washington game. With something as important as health care, that's just not good enough.

You can read our editorial here.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Meehan on the health care vote

For seven years Pat Meehan voted consistently to overturn the signature legislation of President Obama, joining his Republican brethren in trying to roll back what they ridiculed as 'Obamacare.'

Of course, there was a certain sense of comfort in those actions.

They knew it was a hollow act. They knew that with the president waiting with his veto that the votes didn't really mean anything. In other words, they knew no one was going to lose the benefits provided by the ACA.

The, of course, all hell broke loose and Donald Trump stunned the political world by first knocking off a big field of Republican hopefuls to capture the party's nomination, then delivering still one more stunner by snagging the Electoral College vote to defeat Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote.

He did so in large part on the promise that Job One would be repeal and replace Obamacare.

With Trump now in holding the reins of power, it fell to Republicans to make good on those promises, to actually do what they had been bragging for months they would do - repeal and replace Obamacare.

As it turns out, after seven years, Republicans still didn't have a plan.

President Trump even went so far as to say "now one knew how complicated" health care actually was? Really?

House Speaker Paul Ryan quickly put together what was referred to as the American Health Care Act.

Congress debated the ACA for more than a year. Now they wanted a vote on the Republican plan in a matter of a couple of weeks.

Once people got a look at it, they found a lot not to like.

Even some Republicans were taken aback.

It turns out some of Obamacare's harshest critics were more against "Obama" than "Care."

Meehan, R-7, of Chddds Ford, suddenly had a target on his back. His district office was the site of weekly protests by those who opposed the repeal of the ACA, and passionately opposed the GOP plan.

Suddenly, a lot of Republicans started softening their tone. Even Meehan, who voted again and again to ax Obamacare, coined a new term, "rescue and repair," as opposed to "repeal and replace."

Still, he voted in favor of the plan as a way to move it forward out of the House Ways and Means Committee.

But as Trump and Republican leaders scheduled a vote on Thursday, Meehan clearly was having misgivings.

Thursday's vote got delayed. Late Thursday Trump issued an ultimatum - he wanted an up or down vote regardless of the outcome.

Despite furious arm-twisting by the president, they still didn't have the votes. The bill failed not just because it would not get a single Dem vote; it was conservative Republicans and a few others who killed the American Health Care Act.

And Meehan? He did the politically astute thing.

Late Wednesday he said he was still undecided, still going over the measure and still talking to constituents.

You could almost hear the sigh of relief from Meehan in Washington all the way back here in the 7th District when Trump and Ryan pulled the bill Friday afternoon.

Meehan never had to show his hand.

Of course, after the bill was pulled, Meehan issued a statement saying he had serious problems with the legislation. Here's what he said.

"Obamacare has left too many Pennsylvanians behind, and middle class families face skyrocketing premiums and less access to the doctors they trust.

“I’ve long said we need to repeal it and replace it with real reforms that address the cost of care and make quality coverage more affordable. I’ve been supportive of moving this process forward and crafting legislation that achieves these goals.

“The bill took important steps to dismantle Obamacare’s maze of taxes and mandates, and it also preserved protections for people with pre-existing conditions – a top priority of mine throughout this debate."

The the congressman gets to the good part.

“But I also expressed serious concerns about just what this bill would have meant for Pennsylvania," Meehan said. "I had hoped that as the bill worked its way through the House, we’d be able to improve it and ensure we’re lowering costs for patients.

“This legislation didn’t go far enough to bring down the cost of care or make essential coverage more affordable. Ultimately, this bill was not a satisfactory repeal of Obamacare, nor an adequate replacement.

“This issue isn’t going away. With more time and more feedback from members and their constituents, I hope we’ll be able to continue the repeal-and-replace process, both through regulatory reforms by the administration and through legislation that reflects the priorities we’ve set. It’s more important we get this done right than get it done fast."

The perfect political position, knowing full well once again he would not have to actually cast a vote, which would have let him vulnerable to an attack from side or the other.

There's just one thing I wish he had done.

I wish he had made that same statement Thursday, before the bill was pulled.

Trump turns back on his most ardent supporters

An odd thing happened to all those people who thought they were voting to Make America Great Again.

They were cutting their own throat.

Look at the failed health care bill President Donald Trump and House Republicans were championing. It would devastate a lot of the very people Trump was promising would be made great again.

Luckily, that got pulled Friday before it ever got to a vote.

Then take a look at the budget proposed by the president.

That's where he really gets serious.

It's hard to fathom this is the same guy who made all those promises to those who felt disenfranchised, left out, left behind, looked down upon by the liberal elite.

For some reason, I don't think killing the funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission, which for years has been helping just the people Trump appealed to on the campaign trail, some of the poorest areas of the country.

It was in our Sunday editorial.

It's a great, big world - that is getting smaller all the time

We live in a great big world - that seems to be getting smaller all the time.

I learned that once again after writing last week about my visit to the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville.

Several things happened after that column appeared.

I was a bit taken aback by how many people who have been there have been transfixed by exactly the same thing that held my rapt attention: The sky. It's just different out there. And it's particularly haunting there at the memorial site.

That belief was confirmed by a woman whose family grew up in that area, and who related a great story about sitting on her aunt's front porch on summer nights and being dazzled by the light show in the sky.

Finally, an old newspaper guy gave me a call with his own very special connection to the Flight 93 Memorial.

You can read the column here.

Small world, indeed.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Meehan in the spotlight as Trump demands health care vote

There is no place left to hide for Pat Meehan and his fellow moderate Republicans.

They can thank President Donald Trump for that.

Rep. Meehan, R-7, of Chadds Ford, has been riding the fence concerning the Republican push to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the GOP American Health Care Plan.

As late as Wednesday afternoon, the Delaware County Republican indicated he had still not made up his mind and was continuing to hear from constituents and review the legislation.

It was the smart political move.

Meehan is not likely to show his hand on health care until he absolutely has to; it's a no-win situation for the moderate. He's guaranteed to take fire regardless which way he votes. He'll earn the scorn of Trump and conservative Republicans with a no vote; be crucified by many constituents who do not want to see the ACA overturned should he cast a vote in favor.

Those folks have been a steady presence in protests outside his Springfield office. They were back out there again yesterday and already are vowing to show up again today.

So he stayed in the middle, despite his longtime opposition to ACA, and his vote in favor of moving the GOP plan out of the House Ways and Means Committee.

At first yesterday, it appeared Meehan and others riding the fence might get a break. Republican leaders said they were delaying the vote, a sure indication they did not have the votes for passage.

That wiggle room has now evaporated.

President Trump last night issued an ultimatum - he wants an up or down vote this morning or he is moving on to other issues.

So what will it be, Congressman Meehan?

We're about to find out.

Thanks, Dallas Green

His was the voice that roared.


But there was a method behind the bombast.

Dallas Green knew what was inside the 1980 Phillies. He just had to find a way to get it out of them, to shake up a complacent bunch of under-performing superstars.

Luckily, Green had just the tool he needed.

A voice that could peel paint off the wall.

Dallas Green was a no-nonsense baseball man.

Maybe that's why he had such a connection with Philly fans. They unabashedly loved him.

And maybe that's why his passing this week, just as the Phils prepare to head north for another season, hits us so hard, similar to the way we felt about other Phillies icons Harry Kalas and Whitey Ashburn.

We used our editorial page today to pay homage to a local hero.


That one's easy.

Dallas Green made us winner.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Daily Numbers for Thursday March 23

The Daily Numbers: 82, age of legendary Phillies manager Dallas Green.

6 decades, how long Green spent in baseball, almost all of them in Philly.

1980, year Green willed a bunch of under-achieving Phils to their 1st World Series championship.

1 color gown for all grads to wear, what Haverford High School students are petitioning for.

500 dollar shopping spree won by an Aston man.

10 million dollar deficit still looming in Upper Darby School District budget.

150 cities being visited by SAP in their Reimagined Tour.

3 teens who had been on the run after fleeing a juvenile detention center 300 miles away.

1st Steps Treatment Center now up and running at Crozer-Chester Medical Center to help in the war on opioid abuse.

215 votes needed by Republicans in the House today to pass their repeal of the Affordable Care Act and replace it with their own American Health Care Act. Right now it looks like they still don’t have votes.

87, age of ‘Gong Show’ creator Chuck Barris, who died this week.

2 rival female teen gangs that engaged in a nasty street fight in West Philadelphia, including 1 girl having her hair set on fire.

35th triple double for Kevin Westbrook in leading the Thunder to easy win over the 76ers last night.

0 shots missed by Westbrook, the so-called ‘perfect’ triple double

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

Joel Embiid is now scheduled for knee surgery. Two months after first injuring his knee. Yep, the Process is still working.

I Don’t Get It: I’m betting the House never votes today on the GOP health care plan. They don’t appear to have to votes in their own ranks to get it passed.

Today’s Upper:
Kudos to the memory of a person who truly was larger than life - Dallas Green.

Quote Box: “The Phillies didn’t fire Danny Ozark, you guys did.”

Green addressing the Phils after taking over for the departed skipper Ozark.

Dallas Green made the Phils - and us - winners

It was the voice the Phillies heard in their dreams - or maybe their nightmares.

No, not Harry Kalas.

Harry's dulcet baritone likely eased the players into lullaby land. But it was the booming bravado of Dallas Green that jarred them from their reverie.

The person who coined the saying that some people are larger than life probably had Dallas Green in mind.

Green was a giant - figuratively and literally - on the Philly sports scene.

He took a team of chronic underachievers, stuck his boot firmly in their posteriors, and dragged them kicking and screaming to the team's first World Series championship.

For that - meaning his no-nonsense approach to the game and demand that his players bust it every night - he earned the undying respect of Philly fans. That parade in 1980 wasn't bad either.

Green, who made his home for years on a farm in West Grove out in Chester County, died Wednesday at 82.

Green made it clear when he took over for the fired Danny Ozark late in still one more disappointing season in 1979 that things were going to be different.

"The Phillies didn't fire Danny Ozark," Green told his troops. "You did."

Green stood 6 feet, 5 inches tall, and his voice matched his physique.

He coddled no one, from superstars like Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose, to the last guy on his bench.

The players hated him for it. But eventually they turned things around, caught fire in September 1980 after another legendary Green torching, and delivered the city its first championship since the Flyers captured back-to-back Stanley Cups in the '70s. Green spent six decades in baseball, all but a few of them as part of the Phillies organization. He came out of Delaware as a pitcher and compiled a 20-22 record. That led to one his classic quips: "I'm a 20-game winner, it just took me five years to do it."

But he made his real mark on Philly off the field, where he coached and managed in the minors, then took over the team's farm system, delivering home-grown talent such as Schmidt and Bowa to his mentor, Phillies GM Paul Owens.

When Owens and Phillies owner Ruly Carpenter decided to make a change late in that 1979 season, they turned to Green.

The Phillies likely heard him coming long before they saw him.

Green's voice shook up a Phillies clubhouse that badly needed it.

But it did more than that.

It made them - and us - winners.

Thanks, Dallas.


CLICK HERE for a look at Dallas Green's legendary career.

CLICK HERE for Jack McCaffery's look at the man who reshaped the Phillies.

Crunch time for health care in D.C.

It's crunch time - and arm-twisting time - in Washington.

The Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act may or may not come to a vote in the House.

Whether or not President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have the votes to pass their American Health Care Act remains in question, despite some serious pressure being applied by the president.

Mr. Trump has made it clear that he will be keeping score when it comes to the vote, and those who don't toe the party line likely will face his wrath.

It's unlikely that any Democrats will vote in favor, so this is something of a Republican showdown. Conservatives continue to fume that the GOP plan is not what they campaigned on, and not what they promised voters. In short, they see it as Obamacare Lite, far short of the repeal they promised voters.

And some GOP moderates have indicated they cannot support the changes and the hardships the GOP plan would place on many of their constituents.

Here in Delaware County, U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Chadds Ford, who voted in favor of the measure in passing it out of the Ways and Means Committee, said yesterday afternoon he remains undecided as he continues to review the legislation.

One thing you can count on: If Ryan and the Republican leadership feel they don't have the votes, don't look for this thing to make it to the floor.

That could take Meehan and others riding the fence off the hook and not have to take a stand one way or the other.

You can read our editorial here.

Covering all sides in Chester

Nobody knows better than I do the feelings of the residents of Chester, many of whom believe the Daily Times is always picking on their city.

I heard it again this week after we published a story with data from a Pittsburgh lawyer indicating Chester was the most dangerous city to live in Pennsylvania.

What we did not hear from was Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland. We did not get a response when we asked for reaction to the label while working on the story.

Of course, I heard from the mayor after the story hit the street Tuesday morning.

As you might imagine, the mayor was not pleased.

And as I always do in these instances, I offered him the opportunity to respond.

You can read that response on our op-ed page today.

There is a lot of good things happening in the city of Chester.

It has a vibrant arts scene that is sparking a renaissance in the downtown sector. It has a majestic waterfront, home of Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union, where 20,000 fans routinely come and go without incident.

It is very easy to get a skewed image of the city.

That's why I am always looking for positive stories from the city.

This week we published a story about a job fair being held at City Hall. We pay close attention to what is going on in the city's arts scene. Our Friday religion pages are filled with events at Chester places of worship.

I strive to present a balanced view. I'm sure there are a lot of people who believe I fail miserably at that job.

To them I make the same offer. I am an equal-opportunity publicist. Write a letter and I'll run it on our op-ed page.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, March 22

The Daily Numbers: 3 applications from Delaware County submitted to the state for operations under the state’s new medical marijuana law.

2 marijuana-growing facilities in Aston & 1 dispensary in Sharon Hill. They now await word from the state.

20, age of Sam Jenkins, a popular Swarthmore College student who died of injuries he suffered in a skateboard accident on campus.

3 foot pole used to assault a SEPTA bus driver near 69th Street, according to police.

3.5 million dollars in Community Development Block Grants received in Delco last year. Those are on the chopping block in the Trump budget.

15 percent boost in median price of homes sold in Delco in February.

2 percent dip in total of homes sold.

100,000 dollars worth of gifts and lavish trips accepted by Philly D.A. Seth Williams, according to federal indictment.

175,000 dollars a year, how much Williams made as Philly’s top law enforcer.

23 count indictment lodged against him by the feds yesterday.

2 liters and 12-packs of Pepsi being eliminated from Philly by the soda giant in wake of new tax on sugary drinks.

3.7 billion dollars tied to Marcellus Shale liquids such as ethane and propane that will travel through that controversial Mariner East 2 pipeline, according to report released by Gov. Wolf.

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

Looks like another year out of the playoffs for the Flyers. They lost last night. And the finger-pointing is starting.

I Don’t Get It: Looking for downside to Route 322 construction? How long do you think it’s going to take to get through that light at Cherrytree Road now?

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Chris Domes. The longtime Wisconsin educator will be arriving in Delaware County to succeed Dr. Rosalie Mirenda as the president of Neumann University.

Quote Box: “I’ve always been of the mindset that trailblazers are what we need.”

- Sharon Hill Mayor Harry Dunfee, on his support for proposal for a medical marijuana dispensary in the borough.

The downside to fixing Route 322

Call it the cloud that accompanies every silver lining.

I was struck by the reaction of many readers to news that after decades of talk, the state is finally starting work to fix what is often referred as the "Killer Conchester," the stretch of Route 322 that runs from I-95 in Chester to Route 1 in Concord.

Yes, most residents were relieved that this white-knuckle ride, which is still two lanes in a couple of sections despite the high volume of traffic and number of big rigs that rumble down that expanse every day.

Still, several readers sounded a couple of downbeat notes.

First, I talked to two older residents who took umbrage to tagging the route as the "Killer" Conchester. They wanted to point out that the Conchester doesn't kill anybody; reckless drivers usually do.

It's a little bit like the class gun-control argument, that guns don't kill people, people do.

The other lament was about what you'd expect.

While they welcome fixing Route 322, many readers openly shuddered at what traffic in this already clogged route is going to look like once they start shutting lanes down.

Actually, from the sounds of it, much of the work will be done in off-hours and will take place off the main route.

But, yes, I can imagine that there are going to be delays built into this two-year process.

Should do wonders for the long wait to get through that light at Cherrytree Road.

If that's not the worst traffic light in Delco, I'm not really sure what is.

Anyone have any other suggestions?

Time for a solution in Chester

On our editorial page today, we note that Greg Gerson informed the residents of Chester something they have known for a long time.

They live in a very dangerous city. In fact, according to research Gerson has compiled, they live in the most dangerous city in Pennsylvania.

It's time for that to change.

The residents of Chester deserve better.

Read our editorial here.

Winter of our discontent, sports fans

The winter of our discontent continues.

Even into the first week of spring.

No, I'm not talking about the weather - for once.

I'm talking sports.

The Flyers lost last night in Winnipeg, leaving them 7 points out of the playoffs with 10 games to play. Yeah, it does not look good. And things got even worse after the game when goalie Steve Mason appeared to question the effort of some of his teammates.

The big story surrounding the Sixers these days is Joel Embiid's commercial for Jolly Ranchers. Yeah, that pretty much gives you an idea of where how their season is winding up, despite the development of Richaun Holmes and the recently acquired Justin Anderson.

Even the Delco high school season is now barren.

With that loss Monday night by the O'Hara girls, there are no Delco teams still alive in the PIAA hoops playoffs.

The Phillies can't start soon enough

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Yes, they are fixing the Conchester

I am guessing there are more than a few people in Delaware County who took one glance at yesterday's front page and said, "Yeah, right. I'll believe it when I see it."

Believe it.

They are finally fixing the Killer Conchester.

I know, you've been hearing about them doing this for decades. This time it's for real. Work started yesterday.

I actually had a call from one reader taking me to task for our description of the road.

The 85-year-old woman was more than willing to tell me she disagreed with our characterization of the road that stretches from I-95 in Chester and Route 1 in Concord.

"The road is not the problem," she informed me. "The Conchester is not the killer. It's the drivers." She's right, of course.

But that doesn't change the fact that a road that became obsolete not long after the day it was opened is finally going to be fixed.

It's on our editorial page today.

Memories of the southwestern Pa. sky

You never really know in this job how you are going to connect with readers.

Yesterday, in my weekly Letter From the Editor print column, I wrote about a recent visit to the Flight 93 Memorial outside Shanksville. I wrote specifically about the sky, how it seemed different in this vast expanse of open space, how it seemed so much closer, almost constricting.

That did not surprise one reader and she should know.

She grew up in that area.

And she wanted me to know that I was exactly right about the sky.

She related a story about how her parents grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania and that even after they moved away as he father looked for work, they would return for a week each summer to visit relatives.

She talked about those visits warmly, clearly relishing a trip down memory lane.

You could almost hear the joy in her writing as she described sitting on the porch of a house, sandwiched between her mom and her aunt, staring up at the wondrous sky. She would be cloaked in a blanket, because even on the most scorching summer days, it always cooled off at night.

Then she talked about the real reason she emailed me, the same thing that I came away with after my visit.

The sky.

"We felt like we could reach the sky, along with the millions of stars we would see so close and bright," she said "We would stretch our arms thinking we could touch the moon to give it a hug. Every sense I have, but especially a smell, could bring back memories flooding my mind and heart, of my Aunt Mary and all our family. Her house had a smell I still long for and when I smell it, I wish I could bottle it. "Anyway, you are correct! That sky in Western Pennsylvania, seems like you can touch it. As a kid, I thought I did many times."

I'm not sure I've ever received a nicer compliment.

Oh, baby! Some more positive news

I'm on a mission.

I'm looking for good news. Upbeat stories, ones that can provide balance to the stream of often troubling headlines that pour out from our website and the pages of the newspaper.

That doesn't mean I'm giving up reporting on these so-called "negative" stories. Unfortunately, as I tell everyone who asks, that's what people read.

But a gentleman who called me yesterday to tell me how much he liked my column on my visit to the Flight 93 Memorial got me thinking. He was clearly touched by what I had written and went out of his way to not how it differed from the usual fare he encounters in the newspaper.

Granted, you might make the argument that the reasoning behind the Flight 93 Memorial is hardly upbeat, but I assure you there is something very positive and uplifting about the site.

For today, well, it doesn't get much more update than this story.

A Haverford couple decided to throw a luncheon to thank the local EMS guys who came to their aid and helped deliver their baby. Yep, I think that classifies as upbeat.

Kudos to all involved. Read the story here.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Daily Numbers for Monday, March 20

The Daily Numbers: 6:29 a.m., when we officially bid winter goodbye and welcomed spring.

35 degrees, chilly start to spring.

4 lanes, what Route 322, the Killer Conchester, will be in each direction after improvement plan, which starts today.

20,000 vehicles that use the span from I-95 in Chester to Baltimore Pike in Concord.

3.6 mile stretch of road that has a reputation as being one of the most dangerous roads in the county.

90 million dollars, what the project will cost.

2 years, how long the work will take.

5 hours a month, what a group of social activists want those who attended the Take Action, Give 5 Fair to donate to their communities.

6 to 12 years in state prison for Chester man for sex crimes he committed as a teen.

245,000 people who visited the Philadelphia Flower Show this year. That’s down from the 2 previous years, due in part to the large storm that hit the area Tuesday.

88, age of Jimmy Breslin, legendary New York columnist.

10 percent boost in defense spending under President Trump’s proposed budget.

5.9 percent uptick in veterans spending.

6.8 percent boost for Homeland Security.

31.4 percent cut for the EPA

16 percent cut for Health and Human Services.

1 and done. Villanova, the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney, was shown the door Saturday by Wisconsin.

105-99 comeback win for the Sixers over the Celtics

4-3 win in OT for Flyers over Hurricanes.

65-61 loss for Chester High to Abington Heights in PIAA tourney.

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

Villanova is out of the Big Dance. Bring on baseball season.

I Don’t Get It: Spring is here. Raise your hand if you don’t’ want to eat water ice on a 40-degree day. Can I get a rain check for July?

Today’s Upper: Kudos to word that after many, many years, work is expected to start today to fix the Killer Conchester, Route 322.

Quote Box: “Proposed cuts in the budget blueprint to programs that have a lasting, positive impact on our communities and that my constituents value are unacceptable to me.”

- U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello

The economic 'forecast:' Those calls for big storms cost money

It's one of those things I think about every time a big storm is in the forecast.

Especially when the forecast turns out to be not quite on the money - and we get considerably less snow than expected.

It happened again last week, when the nebulous "snow-rain line" did what is always seems to do. It shifted, or "wobbled" as one local forecaster insisted on telling us.

Bottom line? We got a lot less snow, and more sleet and freezing rain. It was still a mess, but it was not the major snow storm that had been forecast that could have paralyzed the region.v That did not stop many operations from shutting down. Schools closed, county government went dark in Media.

I always envision myself as a bar or restaurant owner, especially when these things are forecast for a Friday or Saturday night.

I can only imagine what they are thinking when they flick on their TV and the only thing they hear all day is, "All we can say is that if you don't have to go out, don't."

Of course not, stay inside and watch TV - and our non-stop coverage of reporters sticking rulers into the snow.

As I suspected, there is a real cost in terms of the hit to the regional economy in such instances.

Reporter Alex Rose talked to some experts about what all this weather mayhem actually costs.

A haunting sky

I was standing in the middle of nowhere, in a field in western Pennsylvania.

And all I could do was stare at the sky.

And imagine the horror that unfolded in this very place those many years ago.

Standing at the Flight 93 Memorial outside Shanksville, Pa., is a moving experience.

I wrote about it today in my weekly Letter From the Editor.

Congratulations, we survived another winter

Congratulations! We survived another winter.

Welcome to the first day of spring. Actually, I'm jumping the gun just a tad. Spring doesn't officially arrive until 6:29 a.m. As winters go, this was not all that bad, but I could still live without it.

We did not get any big, paralyzing snow storms, despite our local TV stations forecasts.

But for some reason, the last couple of weeks I have been even more cold than normal.

There is something you should know. I am always cold. It's one of the reasons I detest winter. Maybe we got lulled to sleep by the fairly mild winter, but these last few weeks I have been shivering with the best of them.

Now if we could just get rid of this nuisance snow. Yes, it's pretty when it first arrives, blanketing everything in a fluffy layer of white. That's especially true when we get just enough snow to cover all our imperfections, but not enough to keep us from getting around.

Unfortunately, that only lasts a couple of hours. One thing I noticed yesterday is how ugly snow is after it sits around for a couple of days.

The combination of salt, road grit and stuff that has been plowed into large mounds makes for an ugly spectacle.

It's going to take awhile for the snow to disappear. While we are supposed to warm up a bit today, pushing close to 50, what we really need is a couple of 70-degree days and a nice rain to wash away all this grit.

You can get the full forecast here.

For now, I will rejoice in having survived another winter. No, I will not rush to Rita's for a free water ice today.

But I'll be smiling anyhow.

Bring on Summer!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Meehan on the health care act

The protesters were back at U.S. Rep Pat Meehan's Springfield office yesterday, just as they have been every week since President Donald Trump was sworn in and Republican made clear they intended to make good their vow to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

But things got a little more serious this week then House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Republicans finally rolled out their replacement, the American Health Care Act.

Meehan voted in favor of it in moving it out of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Yesterday he talked about it - and where he stands when it comes to health care.

The man who said he was much more in favor of "rescue and repair," as opposed to "repeal and replace," likes some aspects of the new plan, like the way it keeps several key provisions, such as allowing dependents to stay on their parents' plan until age 26, and assuring those with pre-existing conditions are not denied coverage. But he still has his concerns, and wants to stress that this is going to be a long process, and that more changes in the bill are no doubt on the way.

You can read the story - and the reaction of local protesters - here.

Nothing routine about the 'Delco Legend,' or police work

The legend of the 'Delco Legend' continues to grow.

Even if Chris Dorman wishes it would not.

About the only thing the Folcroft police officer wants is for his life to return to its normal routine.

'Routine' is a funny word when it comes to police officers and first responders.

People - including some of us in the news racket - have a tendency to refer to 'routine' police calls.

Those who know and love cops - their family and friends - know there is no such thing.

That's why they grimace just a bit every time they hear it. They are all too aware that when their loved one leaves the house every day, there is no guarantee that they will return home safe and sound.

Dorman was responding to just such a 'routine' call last summer for a report of drug activity behind a local apartment complex when he encountered something that was anything but routine.

Dorman scuffled with a suspect, then was knocked to the ground. That's when he found himself staring down the barrel of a gun. He was shot several times, clinging to life when he was rushed to the hospital by a fellow officer, while still another confronted the suspect and exchanged gunfire with him.

Amazingly, Dorman left the hospital just a few days later, albeit with the scars of his life-threatening encounter still visible fater taking bullets to his face, back and legs.

Thus was born the 'Delco Legend.'

This week Dorman, his fellow Folcroft officers and many others were honored at a very special dinner by a group supporting law enforcement in Philadelphia. There were 29 law officers who had been wounded in the line of duty, including East Lansdowne native Josh Hartnett, who was shot point-blank in an ambush by a man who fired into the window of his police cruiser.

You might say it was anything but a 'routine' night.

Just like the calls these officers answer every day.

You can read our editorial here.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Upping the ante in the health care war

On our editorial page today, we take a look at the Republicans' new health care bill and the challenge it poses for many moderates in Congress, including Delco U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan.

Meehan has made no secret of his desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

But instead of "repeal and replace," he was mouthing words like "rescue and repair."

The American Health Care Act rolled out by House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn't made anyone happy. The conservative right are ridiculing it as "Obamacare Light." The left are pointing to Congressional Budget Office calculations that indicate it would leave 24 million people uninsured over the next decade, while increasing costs for seniors and offering huge tax breaks to the pharma and insurance industries.

That's what Meehan, who already voted in favor of the plan in moving it out of the House Ways and Means Committee, and other Republicans now have to sell to their constituents.

Those constituents have not been shy about voicing their opinions, in particular when it comes to health care legislation. They have been holding weekly picketing sessions and rallies outside his Springfield office.

Today they are planning an all-day affair outside the office at 940 West Sproul Road.

You can read our editorial here.

We've got Villanova covered; special NCAA section, Kris Jenkins poster today

Last year Villanova had something to prove.

Same thing this year, but for a vastly different reason.

Last season Jay Wright's Wildcats were trying to shed their reputation for early exits from the NCAA Tournament.

Today, as they kick off play in Buffalo vs. Mount St. Mary's, they do so as the defending national champions, as well as the No. 1 seed in the entire tournament.

Yes, once again the 'Cats have something to prove. And that huge target on their backs is not going to go away.

They do have an advantage many teams do not, however.

On our editorial page recently, we referred to it as the 'Wright Stuff.'

Make sure you follow our Villanova beat writer Terry Toohey, who will be with the Wildcats every step of the way as they seek to repeat. Today Terry profiles Great Valley grad Mikal Bridges, who could wind up being a 1st round NBA Draft pick. Terry also has a preview of tonight's opponent, Mount St. Mary.

And if all that is not enough, make sure you pick up a copy of our special NCAA tournament section, including a special full-color poster page of Villanova star Kris Jenkins. It's inside every copy of today's Daily Times.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Spring & a miss from Stella

Was it a snow job?

Don't ask me. I'm not a meteorologist. I don't even play one on TV. I just rant about the weather in this blog.

First a confession. I hate winter. And I hate the way we focus on winter weather only slightly less.

Having said that, don't look for me to be wringing my hands over what did or did not happen in the forecast yesterday.

While "Stella" - and who the hell ever thought naming winter storms was a good idea? - certainly created a mess, she did not deliver the "snowmageddon" many had feared.

It's all about computer models and a wobbling snow-rain line.

Here's what I know, because I heard it with my own ears and saw it with my own eyes.

The dead quiet that usually accompanies a big winter storm gave way early yesterday morning to the pinging sound of sleet and ice pellets on the windows.

That gush of warm air moved farther than expected, leading to many areas getting more sleet, freezing rain and ice than snow. Most areas in the Philly region got only a fraction of the paralyzing amounts that were originally feared.

Not until you got up toward Allentown and the Poconos - and since when did they become part of the infamous "northern and western suburbs?" - did you find serious snow accumulations, up to a foot.

That did not mean what we got was any less of a mess, it was just a lot less snow than expected.

Schools, government and businesses still shut down. And probably rightly so. That thin covering of snow was quickly topped off with a coating of ice that made getting around yesterday morning a mess.

Shoveling this mess was almost as dangerous. It was a heavy, wet slop that left its telltale mark on my back. Yes, I am feeling it this morning.

But by early afternoon, the roads were eminently passable, at least the main thoroughfares. Some side roads remain a mess. Stella is gone, but winter is still with us.

It's frigid out there this morning. All that glop has now likely again frozen solid.

Bottom line: Stella cut us a break, failing to deliver the paralyzing snow many had feared.

You'll get no complaints from me.

On with spring.

Get the full forecast here.

Justice for Alexander McClay Williams

The family and friends of Alexander McClay Williams have been waiting a long time for justice.

They're going to have to wait a little longer.

We used our editorial page today to place a spotlight on the case of the youngest person ever put to death in Pennsylvania.

Williams was convicted in the brutal stabbing death of a matron at Glen Mills School 85 years ago.

The 16-year-old was charged, tried, convicted and put to death in less than a year.

Williams was black, the victim was white. An all-white jury sentenced the youth to death.

There are many questions about the case and the justice that was meted out to Williams.

Local attorney, spurred by a lifetime of research by longtime educator Sam Lemon is seeking to have the youth exonerated posthumously. Their latest attempt was delayed by some problems in his petitions.

They deserve their day in court.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Join our Nor'easter of 2017 live coverage

So what's it doing in your neighborhood?

We've already had some snow, a little sleet and freezing rain, I'm sure the locusts are just around the corner. Actually, since that might signal warmer temperatures, that might not be all that bad.

We want to know what you are encountering in the great Nor'easter of 2017.

You can join our live coverage all day. Send us your snow pix to

Tweet us with the hashtag #delcosnow and we will add you to our live blog.

There is no school; Delaware County offices are closed; and most people have enough bread, milk and eggs in the fridge to feed a small army. Give us your guess as to how much snow you think we're actually going to wind up with, and your opinion of the forecast that we've been hearing about all weekend.

Join our Nor'easter of 2017 team.

The telltale sign of a big storm: Dead quiet

They are the two simple words that are on the lips of every person in the Delaware Valley - and have been now for several days.

How much?

How much snow are we going to get from the great Nor'easter of 2017?

When will it start?

How long will it last?

What will be open and closed.

But as I lay in bed early this morning frantically checking the clock every five minutes, I was seized by two other words that always seem to accompany a big storm.

Dead quiet.

As much as I hate it, there is something calming, settling, as most all normal activity ceases and people hunker down in the wake of a big winter storm.

For some reason, I don't even have to get up and go to the window to learn my fate.

I can feel it. The quiet tells me we are now cloaked in a blanket of white.

But as I gritted my teeth this morning, trying to muster the confidence to crawl out of bed and peer out the window, the tranquility was rather rudely interrupted by a sound I had not anticipated.

It was that pinging on the window and roof.


To be honest, at this point I don't know what to make of this storm, aside from this:

Enough already.

The TV stations seem to be furiously trying to pinpoint the "crossover line," that spot where the snow stops and the sleet starts. I get the feeling that the line has been creeping farther and farther north, that we may not be getting as much snow as first thought. From what I can see on TV, it appears as if a lot of roads are just wet.

Right now here at Chez Heron, I would say we have a few inches of snow.

If we don't get a whole lot more, that would be fine by me.

Then again, I'm not a meteorologist. I don't even play one on TV. I reserve that for this blog.

Stay warm and safe out there.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Daily Numbers for Monday, March 13

The Daily Numbers: 1, as in the No. 1 seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for the defending champion Villanova Wildcats.

7:10 p.m. Thursday, when Villanova plays its 1st game of the tourney in Buffalo vs winner of play-in game between Mount St. Mary and New Orleans.

2, as in the No. 2 seed in the East to Duke, which could be on collision course in Elite 8 matchup. 8-12 inches of snow being called for across the region. There will be blizzard conditions in New York City and up to New England.

4.4 million dollars awarded to Boothwyn, Upper Chichester man in suit against PennDOT after he was injured in a bike accident after he was thrown from his bike after striking a bump on a dangerous road.

10,000 dollar nonrefundable deposit needed to apply for medical marijuana growing operation under new Pa. law.

5,000 dollar nonrefundable fee for a dispensary license.

100,000 dollars in no-bid contracts given to SEPTA police chief by the ousted head of the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

300 people who showed up at a rally to oppose President Donald Trump’s policies in Philly. They got a visit from Gov. Tom Wolf.

1 Harrisburg fire official who died of injuries he suffered responding to fire.

1 child who died in that fire, believed to be a result of a Hoverboard that burst into flames.

60, age of Joni Sledge, part of the pop group Sister Sledge, who had a hit with the standard, “We Are Family.” She died over the weekend.

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

Kudos to the Villanova Wildcats. The defending champions are now the No. 1 seed in the NCAA hoops tourney.

I Don’t Get It: Remember when it comes to medical marijuana. This is not something that is going to be smoked. It will be creams, ointments and tinctures given to those battling critical illnesses to ease pain.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to anyone who talks about anything other than the weather today.

Quote Box: “Nobody’s expectations for us can exceed the expectations we have for ourselves as a team.”

- Kris Jenkins, of the Villanova Wildcats.

Let the madness being: Have you heard? It's supposed to snow

Let the Madness begin.

No, not the basketball tournament.

I'm talking about the TV folks blathering about the weather.

Maybe you've heard about it? We're expecting some snow.

No, I don't like it. Not one bit. But I will grit my teeth and get by.

What is nearly aggravating - at least to me - is the unbridled joy our local TV stations take in delivering the news.

Look, I get it. It's been a fairly mild winter, with little or snow snow.

That apparently is going to change tonight, when a Nor'easter blows in and slams us with what likely will be the biggest snowfall of the winter.

That's right, despite the fact that we turned the clocks ahead Sunday morning, Mother Nature has yet to "spring forward." In other words, it's still winter. And that means it might snow.

And that sends our local TV folks into hype overdrive.

I saw this one coming last week, when I pronounced that this is all we would hear all weekend.

I wasn't wrong. They've been beating the drums for this storm since Thursday.

I don't think it would bother me nearly as much if they did not seem so damn happy about it.

I'm sure the supermarkets enjoy it as well. Did you happen to visit one over the weekend. They were packed. After all, we might not get out of our homes for weeks as this "monster" storm bears down on us.

I actually heard one local TV type this morning say you should have four days worth of medicine on hand before the storm hits. Huh?

Here's my prediction. Yes, it is going to snow. I'm predicting for the Philly suburbs we'll get between 6-8 inches. Those amounts will start increasing as you head north, with maybe as much as a foot in the Poconos, which the last time I looked at a map did not strike me as the "northern and western suburbs."

New York and New England could be looking at blizzard conditions.

Here in Philly?

We'll have to make due with a blizzard of hype.

The photo you did not see

Every day I get to make decisions about what things will appear in the paper - and which things will not.

That's right, some of the toughest decisions I make every day concern things that aren't going to make the paper.

Some times we simply don't have enough space. That's why sometimes things appear on the website before they actually get into print.

But that's not the reason a certain photo did not make print recently.

It's a dilemma I face almost every day.

Since almost everyone I talk to is convinced they can do this job so much better than I do, here's a chance for you to try your hand at it.

I explain the dilemma in my weekly Letter From the Editor print column. I call it a Tale of Two Photos. You saw one of them, but not the other one.

You tell me what you would have done with the photo.

Villanova still on top of college basketball world

Talk about the 'Cats' meow.

Villanova is looking down at the rest of the NCAA field, but there's a landmine out there waiting for the Wildcats.

The defending national champions from the Main Line are not only the No. 1 seed in the East as expected, they are the No. 1 seed in the entire tournament.

They will play the winner of the play-in game between Mount St. Mary and New Orleans for that No. 16 seed in the East.

Perhaps fitting, the game will be played in Buffalo. We're about to have some serious Buffalo weather here, with heavy snow expected to arrive late tonight and through Tuesday morning.

But for now, Jay Wright's team is on top of the college basketball world.

But there is a very familiar name lurking in the East Region.

The Wildcats could easily be looking at an Elite Eight matchup vs. Duke.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves.

For now, tiny Villanova is the cream of college basketball, just as they were last spring when that magical shot from Kris Jenkins after the perfect feed from Ryan Arcidiacano found the bottom of the net.

Let the madness begin.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Meehan stands Pat on health care

Pat Meehan hasn't changed his mind.

He still believes the Affordable Care Act is flawed and needs to be changed.

That's why he voted consistently over the past four years with his Republican constituents to repeal the law known as Obamacare. Of course, with President Obama's veto awaiting, that was largely a symbolic act.

Not anymore.

There's a new sheriff in town. And Donald Trump has made it clear that one of his priorities - one of the benchmarks of his campaign - is the repeal of Obamacare.

But Republicans have come under fire for not having a replacement plan of their own.

Even Meehan believed his counterparts were rushing things just a bit. He started talking about "rescue and repair, as opposed to "repeal and replace."

This week House Republicans rolled out their American Health Plan, and started ramming it through Congress. After a marathon session that did not wind up until 4:15 a.m., the House Ways and Means Committee voted in favor of the plan. Meehan voted to support the move.

Thursday, protesters were back outside his Springfield district office to note their concerns. You can read our story here.

But Meehan's spokesman, John Elizandro, notes that the GOP plan does something important that the congressman had been adamant about. It continues coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, and it allows dependents such as college students to stay on their parents' plans until age 26.

The bill now moves to the full House and Senate, where it's fate remains up in the air. This now is clearly in the GOP's hands. If they can keep the rank-and-file in line, they have the votes - and the president - to get this done.

Ironically, their biggest challenge might come not from Democrats, but from conservative members of their own party who are not happy, who are labeling this effort "Obamacare Light." They want complete repeal, and they likely will not be happy settling for something less than they were promised again and again on the campaign trail.

So where's the snow?

So where's the snow?

I know it's early, what can I tell you, I'm an early riser.

But when I peered through the window with these bleary eyes first thing this morning, I saw about what I expected: Nothing. Yes, I know what we heard all day yesterday, all that stuff about a winter weather advisory and how it was going to start snowing last night, snow through the night and into this morning.

Not happening. At least not yet.

The breathless folks on TV who came on the air early to tell us that it is not snowing assure me that it is still coming. They say it should start snowing here between 5 and 6 a.m. Well it's now 5:30 and I have yet to see a flake.

I suppose there is still plenty of time for the snow to move in and create a little havoc for the morning rush.

I'm not going to hold my breath.

At any rate, it's not going to feel very spring-like. Our days in the 60s are gone. We'll struggle to do better than the mid-30s all weekend. And there is the chance of another storm next week.

You can get the forecast here.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, March 9

The Daily Numbers: 60 degrees for high today. Snow in the forecast for tomorrow.

11,700 local daily records broken across nation for warm temps in February.

44.2 degrees average temp here in the Philly region.

2 degrees higher than previous record set in 1925.

4 days over 70 degrees in February.

1st time that’s happened since they started keeping records in 1874.

1 Pa. state trooper injured in pursuit and crash on I-95 in Chester.

3 suspects in custody.

6 months after he was gunned down, police in Chester make an arrest in murder of J. Charles Hopkins.

82, age of Barney Boyce, the Upper Darby man who has been named grand marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Philly.

50,000 dollar grant for projects in Lansdowne.

40 years at Delaware County Community College for school President Dr. Jerry Parker. He’ll be honored by the Chester County Chamber of Commerce.

30 million dollars for Cheyney University, loaned from Pa., to keep the school afloat.

12 noon, when Villanova Wildcats kick off the Big East tourney.

70-63 loss for Saint Joe’s in 1st round of Atlantic 10 tourney.

3-2 loss for Phils against Braves.

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

OK, Howie, time for some magic. So who do you think the Eagles will sign?

I Don’t Get It: After 13 months of debate, Republicans accused Democrats of jamming Obamacare down the public’s debate. Now they want a vote on their new package in 3 weeks.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the people at Mercy Life in Sharon Hill. They are welcoming immigrants into their midst with special cards for newcomers from Syria.

Quote Box: “Rob made everyone know that they mattered and that he cared for them. He always took time to let you know that in some way.

- Strath Haven alum Caitlyn Locke, on memory of slain classmate Robert Payne

Can pot help Pa.'s budget blues?

I don't know if Gov. Tom Wolf has ever been to Colorado, but I suggest he make the trip.

I was out there last summer, my first trip back since I loaded all my earthly belongings - including my degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder - into the back of a pickup truck in August 1978, pointed it east on I-70, and watched the Rockies slowly disappear in the rear-view mirror.

Things have changed just a bit.

When they say "Rocky Mountain High" these days, they're not just referring to the classic John Denver song.

Since 2012 Colorado has enjoyed the legal sales and consumption of recreational marijuana. It struck me like there was a dispensary in every little strip shopping center. And business is booming.

In 2016, the state racked up more than $1 billion in marijuana sales, in the process collecting more than $150 million in taxes.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale this week suggested the Keystone State take a page from Colorado, legalize recreational use of pot, and allow the state to regulate - and tax - it.

Gov. Wolf did not seem terribly impressed.

He noted that state faces a $3 billion deficit, and that $150 million won't make much of a difference.

We're not so sure who should be so quick to rule out this source of revenue.

We editorialized on it today.

60s today; snow tomorrow

In the 60s with sun today, snow tomorrow.

Yep, must be March.

The Madness does not pertain only to basketball; it pretty much explains the forecast as well.

We'll be mild today with a high breaking into the 60s again. But that will all change later tonight when a cold front blows in, and that has the chance of bringing some snow to the region.

Luckily, with as warm as it's been, it's not likely to stick to the road surfaces, which should remain pretty much just wet. There could be a coating on grassy surfaces, however.

We're not going to warm up much over the weekend, with highs both Saturday and Sunday no higher than the 30s.

Better bundle up if you're headed to the Springfield St. Patrick's Day Parade Saturday.

And winter might not have fired off its last shot just yet, either.

There is another chance of snow in the forecast next week. Get the full forecast here.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The case against Hugh Taussig-Lux

District Attorney Jack Whelan held a press conference yesterday in Media.

Nothing especially unusual about that.

But there was one odd thing that kind of stuck out in the D.A.'s presser Tuesday concerning the case of Hugh Taussig-Lux.

Whelan and other law enforcement, municipal and school officials gathered to talk about a guilty plea that had been entered more than two weeks ago, back on Feb. 24.

Authorities have been building a case against Taussig-Lux for nearly two years, when a complaint was first lodged with Delaware County Children and Youth Services. And while he's now behind bars after entering the plea, officials have reason to believe there are more victims out there, and they'd like them to come forward. Taussig-Lux pleaded guilty to the rape of a 12-year-old girl in his Media apartment. He also admitted crimes against at least 11 other children over an 18-month period from summer 2014 through spring 2016.

Taussig-Lux was initially arrested in May 2016. He's currently serving a 13 1/2 to 27-year sentence.

But authorities believe these cases may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Police believe Taussig-Lux's apartment on Baker Street in Media became a party house for local children. Once there they believe Taussig-Lux would ply them with drugs and alcohol, then sexually assault them.

The apartment was close to a local park and an elementary school.

Now they want to hear from others who may have been victims.

Whelan was joined by Media Mayor Bob McMahon, as well as Rose Tree Media Superintendent Jim Wigo, along with Media Police Officer Nicole Young, who led the investigation, and Assistant District Attorney Alan Borowsky, who prosecuted the cases.

"We have really strong reasons to believe there are other vitims out there," Borowsky said.

Whelan specifically noted that Taussig-Lux was known to hang out at Glen Providence Park, which straddles Media and Upper Providence, and Media Elementary School.

McMahon and Wigo urged parents to talk to their children, have conversations with them to determine if they crossed paths with Taussig-Lux.

Anyone who may have had contact with Taussig-Lux is urged to contact Officer Young at 610-565-6656.

Strike or lockout? Depends on where you stand in DCMH standoff

The two-day strike against Delaware County Memorial Hospital by its unionized nurses and techs is over; the picketing is not.

We use our editorial page today to talk about why that is, and when union nurses could be back on the job.

In the meantime, a new round of talks in the contract standoff is now set for March 14. You can get the full update here.

The two sides remain at odds about the cause of the work stoppage, with the union insisting that staffing is not up to par, putting patients in danger; and the hospital responding that staffing is the same as it's always been, with that being a ruse by nurses who want more money.

Neither side looks ready to budget off their talking points.

Maybe the region's most noted dealmaker, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, can get these two sides in a room and hammer out a new contract. You can read the editorial here.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Why DCMH union won't be back on job today

Nurses at Delaware County Memorial Hospital wrapped up their two-day strike yesterday.

But don't look for them to be back on the job today.

That's because Prospect, the company that bought the Crozer system, had to bring in replacement workers to keep the hospital running. In doing so, they had to guarantee them several days of work, so it is likely that union members will not be back on the job this morning after spending Sunday and Monday manning picket lines outside the hospital on Lansdowne Avenue in Drexel Hill.

The same thing happened during a short strike by staff at Crozer Chester Medical Center in Upland a few years back. The union refers to it as a lockout; the hospital disagrees.

The two sides appear to be unchanged in their stances.

The union claims the hospital continues to be dangerous understaffed.

Prospect says the staffing situations are exactly the same and the strike is really about salaries.

There is a glimmer of hope.

The pre-eminent deal maker in the region was at the site Sunday. That would be Democratic U.S. Rep. Bob Brady. Whenever there is a union problem in the region, you can usually find Brady in the middle of things, trying to either avoid a strike or bring the two sides back to the bargaining table.

He was joined by a Republican, Upper Darby Mayor Tom Micozzie. Both men are urging the two factions to go back to the negotiating table. We'll see where that gets them.

We'll put our money on Brady and Micozzie.