Friday, April 28, 2017

Meehan not standing Pat on this version of health care

He's not standing Pat this time.

You might remember U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan played it pretty close to the vest in the first go-round on the Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the GOP's own American Health Care Act.

After voting in favor of the measure to move it out of the House Ways and Means Committee, Meehan, R-7, reserved support for the measure, waiting to see if would actually come up for a vote by the full House.

Eventually Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and President Donald Trump were forced to pull the bill when they realized they simply did not have the votes in their own caucus to get it passed.

Only after that move did Meehan come forward and say he would not have been able to vote in favor of it.

Now the GOP is back with a new - but not necessarily improved - version of a health care plan.

The big problem with this one is that it could lead to those with pre-existing conditions either being charged outrageous premiums or left out altogether.

To his credit, this time Meehan is not riding the fence.

We contacted him yesterday and he told us he would not support this bill. He's not alone. Chester County Republican Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6, said the same thing. Good for them.

It's time to attack gerrymandering

On our editorial page, we talk about a crucial problem with our elections.

You might not be aware of it, but your voice - your vote - is being lessened, and it has nothing to do with you selecting the candidates you want to support.

Instead, it has everything to do with them selecting you, or at least selecting voters who likely will return them to office. It's called gerrymandering, and it is politics at its worst.

We have the poster boy for the gerrymandering issue right here in Delaware County, with the bizarre shape of the 7th District, which now not only covers the bulk of Delaware County, but now also zigs and zags its way through five suburban counties.

You can read our editorial here.

A great night with Partners in Education

Last night was one of the best nights of the year.

No, it doesn't have anything to do with the NFL Draft, even though it was right here in Philly, filling the Ben Franklin Parkway with thousands of Eagles fans.

I was a few miles away, doing something a newspaper editor almost never gets a chance to do.

I was standing in a ballroom packed with nearly 600 people - almost all of whom were saying nice things about the newspaper. Believe me, it's a rarity.

It was the annual Partners in Education Dinner at the Drexelbrook, where the members of the All-Delco Hi-Q team and the winners of the Excellence in Teaching Awards are handed out.

My thanks to Rick Durante and the good folks at the Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union once again for the opportunity. As I stood on that stage and handed awards to 22 students and 19 teachers, I realized the importance of showing good stories that profile kids and educators doing positive things.

In my remarks I told the audience of my struggle to do that. No, I can't promise we're not always going to see eye to eye on stories. But I can promise to strive to offer a balanced view.

The view last night was excellent. Take my word for it.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A world-class city - again

Go ahead. Call us homers.

Philadelphia once again finds itself in the international limelight.

First it was the pope. Then came the Democrats.

Now things are really getting serious.

The NFL is in town.

Tonight the city becomes the epicenter of the sports universe, hosting the three-day NFL Draft on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway - and of course the most famous steps in the universe.

Yes, those very same steps traversed by that underdog film hero Rocky Balboa, tonight play host to a slew of other athletes, No. 1 picks in the NFL Draft.

A massive stage has been constructed atop the Rocky steps.

There are those who believe shutting down a big part of Center City for this type of event is overkill.

Yes, it does have its downside.

But it is absolutely worth it.

We can give you about 80 million reasons why. That's how much the event likely will contribute to the region's bottom line - a cool $80 million bucks.

But it's more than that.

It's one more reason for the region to shed its inferiority complex and embrace our new role as a world-class city that routinely handles big events.

Sorry, Rocky, we're not underdogs anymore.

It's on our editorial page.

Presenting a balanced picture of young people

We're on a bit of a roll this week when it comes to featuring good kids.

That brings a smile to this editor's day, because it gives me ammunition to one of the biggest complaints I hear every day about our coverage, especially when it comes to young people.

"How come there is so much bad news in the Daily Times?"

The easy answer is because that's what people read.

But that's not enough.

That's one of the reasons I am always looking for a way to feature kids doing good things.

Just last Sunday, we devoted the lead of our front page, as well as four pages inside to our annual All-Delco Hi-Q team. These are our best and brightest, one member from each team that participates in the nation's oldest scholastic quiz competition, Hi-Q.

Those kids, along with the 19 educators selected for the prestigious Excellence in Teaching Awards, will be honored tonight at the Partners in Education gala at the Drexelbrook. It will be my honor to represent the Daily Times there as one of the sponsors.

It's not every day I get to stand in a room of 600 or more people who for the most part have nice things to say about the newspaper. Then yesterday we used two more pages to feature the young people who have been selected to receive scholarships from the Taylor Foundation. You can read all about them here.

It's easy to run stories about kids doing bad things. It takes a little more effort to make sure that image is not skewed, to make sure you are presenting a balanced image of young people.

I think we have done that this week.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, April 26

The Daily Numbers: 55, age of man labeled sexual predator as he was sentenced yesterday in Media Courthouse. He didn’t like the tag.

4 buildings at Cardinal O’Hara that are home to nuns’ convents that will be ‘repurposed’ by the archdiocese into housing for international students attending archdiocese high schools. The nuns will need to find a new home.

37, age of Delco man under arrest in Hatfield after getting into an ugly confrontation with the mother of his 3 children.

16, age of Ridley teen held after an online threat was made against the high school.

16 students are the recipients of this year’s Taylor Community Foundation awards.

105-84 vote in the Pa. House for a plan to lease and eventually sell off the state store system.

2.9 percent tax hike sought in Lower Merion, just a week a judge told them to roll back last year’s increase.

25, age of 3-year veteran of Philadelphia police force who faces child porn charges

232 point spike for Wall Street yesterday. Your 401k is happy.

1,200 jobs being cut by Coke.

1 more day of hype until the NFL Draft kicks off Thursday night. I can hardly contain myself.

14, where Eagles will pick in the 1st round.

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

Please just make the damn selections and quit talking about the NFL Draft.


Don’t Get It:
Mock drafts. Can someone explain the importance of these to me. Today’s Upper: Kudos to the kids who snagged Taylor Foundation Awards. Well done.

Quote Box: “I never carried a knife or gun in my life.”

- Michael Richie, to judge in arguing against being labeled sexually violent predator.

One mother's stand vs. heroin

We have written pages and pages of stories about the insidious scourge of the opioid-heroin epidemic in this region.

None of it has had the impact of the piece that appeared on our op-ed page Tuesday.

Ginny Paul is a Springfield mom. She knows all too well the dangers inherent in this new evil.

She lost her son Doug to heroin.

It took a tremendous amount of courage for her to write the moving, personal piece on the loss of her son and her struggle to come to grips with it.

She should be hailed for taking a stand, for not standing in the shadows.

There is a new saying in journalism, which finds itself under siege these days.

It says, "Democracy dies in darkness."

So do kids.

Too many people continue to remain silent - even as the death toll from heroin and opioid abuse continues to rise. Ginny Paul decided to take a different route. She decided to bare her soul - and her son's struggle - for every reader of this newspaper and our website to read.

We are all better for it.

Thank you, Ginny.

A suggestion to RTM and Sunoco Logistics: No secrets on pipeline plans

On our editorial page today, we note that residents who are opposed to Sunoco Logistics' plans to construct a massive pipeline through their neighborhood are not going away.

Neither are their concerns.

Make no mistake. It almost a sure bet that Mariner East 2 - which will ferry hundreds of thousands of barrels of gases such as propane, butane and ethane across the entire width of Pennsylvania, from the Marcellus Shale regions to Marcus Hook - is going to be built.

It has a huge upside, the potential to be an economic blockbuster that could convert Marcus Hook into the energy hub of the entire Northeast U.S.

But it is not without serious concerns, for neighbors and property owners.

That's why the Rose Tree Media School District and Sunoco officials did not do themselves any favors by not allowing the media or members of the community to attend a recent "safe school summit" that focused on pipeline issues and the plan should something go wrong.

This project needs all the transparency it can get.

You can read our editorial here.

A slice of life for an old paperboy

It was one of those 'slice of life' moments that can't help but bring a smile to your face.

At least it did to mine.

I was doing my normal maniacal early-morning drive into the office this morning, zipping along the back way I have discovered along Ridley Creek Road that allows me to avoid any traffic driving through Media. I was running late, and I was in a hurry.

Nothing exactly new about that.

Usually it's not a problem. I'm usually early enough where traffic isn't an issue.

But as I said, I was driving a little later this morning, and I encountered a car creeping along. I could feel the blood rushing to my head and resisted the urge to cut loose with my normal string of profanities. Not exactly the way I wanted to start the day.

Then the driver in front of me did something that stopped me in my tracks.

I saw his arm extend out the window and ... no, he didn't flip me the bird. He did, however, flip a newspaper onto the driveway to our left.

I just had to smile.

He creeped along a bit, and then pulled off a perfect toss up over the top of his car and perfectly placed on the driveway on our right.

My man!

Thanks for your efforts!

As an old paperboy - even one who made his appointed rounds delivering 44 Evening Bulletins on his bike each day - I enjoyed the effort - and I also noticed the paper was perfectly wrapped.

People still like the feel of a printed newspaper in their hands.

And some people still get up at an ungodly hour to deliver all those newspapers.

I salute you, my friend

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Lessons in leadership ... at Lincoln University

They brought out the heavy hitters for yesterday's Delaware County Youth Leadership Academy at Neumann University.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan and County Council Vice Chairman Colleen Morrone were on hand to offer their young charges some important views of leadership in today's community.

Not sure why, but they also once again invited a certain newspaper editor. I hope I didn't bore the kids to death.

The three-day program gives high school sophomores across the county a chance to network and learn team building with various county and business leaders. One thing I can certainly suggest they NOT do. I discovered once I got back to the office that I had split the back of my pants. I am certainly hoping that occurred AFTER I got back from the conference, that I wasn't walking around all day with a less-than-pleasant rear-view mirror.

I can report that the county is in very good hands. I met some terrific kids. They're smart as whips and ready to go out there and lead. One thing I was dismayed at, however. I think it's a troubling sign of our times.

Only one student all day had an inkling why I consider it so important and such a seminal moment in my life that I attended classes for two years at Lincoln University outside my home town of Oxford.

Anyone want to fathom a guess as to why?

I can tell you this: I urged all those kids yesterday that if they ever get the opportunity to have this experiences they should grab it with both hands. I use the lessons I learned at Lincoln every day.

So why was it so important?

Spreading some good news

We spend a lot of time detailing things that have gone wrong in Delaware County.

Crime, fires, a whole host of what most people would conclude is "bad news."

That's especially true when it comes to young people. Readers are always reminding me that we never write stories about young people doing good things.

It's the question I get more than any other since I assumed this job longer ago than I care to remember.

"Why is there so much bad news in the Daily Times?"

It's a good question.

I have what I feel is a good answer, although I admit it's one a lot of people don't want to hear.

That's what people read.

Still, it's incumbent upon me to try to balance that sometimes skewed vision of our communities.

That's just one of the reasons we presented to very special stories this weekend.

On Sunday we presented the 22 kids who are members of our annual All-Delco Hi-Q team.

Monday we gave similar treatment of the 19 educators selected for the Excellence in Teaching Awards.

Each story dominated our front page, and spanned four full pages inside.

Why did we do it? Many readers - and even some of my staffers - would argue this was not the most important thing going on this weekend, which is what we usually reserve the front-page coverage for.

Granted, neither of these stories probably fit that bill.

We decided to feature them anyway.

We talk a little bit about that decision on today's editorial page.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Daily Numbers: 8 million dollars being raised to save the Beaver Valley tract in Concord.

175,000 dollars, how much more they need to raise to hit the goal.

240 acres of the Beaver Valley off Route 202 at stake.

19 teachers honored with this year’s Excellence in Teaching Awards.

1 person struck and killed by train in Prospect Park Sunday.

1 pregnant woman shot in Chester over the weekend.

2 million bucks in his campaign war chest for U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan.

4 Democrats who have already announced to challenge him.

2.3 magnitude earthquake that hit Sunday in Lancaster County.

22 arrests at Philly marijuana event.

3 cent boost in cost of gasoline at pumps in Philly region last week.

2.66 per gallon average cost.

2.42 national average

35 cents a gallon higher than what we were paying this time last year.

3 consecutive homers - back-to-back-to-back - to power Phils win yesterday.

3 straight wins, sweep over the Braves.

1 run on 3 hits over 7 innings in solid outing for Phils starter Zach Eflin

9-9 record for the Phils as they claw back to .500

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

Forget the NFL Draft. The Phillies just swept the Braves to even their record at 9-9 here

I Don’t Get It: The constant blather about the Eagles’ pick. Get on with it already.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to this year’s All-Delco Hi-Q team and winners of the Excellence in Teaching Awards.

Quote Box: “I’ve learned something at each job.”

- Sandie Liacouras, winner of Excellence in Teaching Award.

Putting a positive focus on education

It's one of the very few weekends of the year where I hope absolutely nothing is going on.

No major crimes, no big fires.

No news?

Not exactly.

Yes, I understand it's a little odd for a newsman to be hoping for no news.

But that's always the case this one weekend of the year.

It's because this is the weekend when we devote much of our coverage to two very special stories.

The first, which appeared Sunday, is the selection of the All-Delco Hi-Q team.

Patterned on our very popular All-Delco high school sports teams, this squad looks to deliver a little much-needed attention to those kids who excel - not on the athletic field - but on the scholastic side of the ledger.

One player from each team that takes part in the annual Hi-Q Scholastic quiz competition is selected to represent his or her team on the All-Delco Hi-Q team.

It's our honor to give coverage to these great kids, literally our best and brightest.

Today we follow that up with the winners of this year Excellence in Teaching Awards.

Nineteen educators are nominated by their peers for this prestigious honor.

Both of these squads, along with all the kids who take part in Hi-Q, will be honored Thursday night at the Partners in Education Dinner at the Drexelbrook.

It's one of the best nights of the year.

I'll be there, looking to offer some positive press to kids who excel in the classroom, and the teachers who so inspire them. You can read about the Hi-Q kids here.

And the Excellence in Teaching Award winners here.

A salute to Harry Chaykun

You can make the argument that very few people know more about Delaware County sports that Harry Chaykun.

And perhaps even more important, you also can make the argument that perhaps no one in Delaware County is more responsible for shedding light on women's sports than the man affectionately known around these parts as 'Pop-Pop.'

Harry Chaykun wrote for this newspaper for the better part of five decades. He is literally a walking encyclopedia of Delaware County sports history.

Offer a name and Harry will immediately spit out that person's stats.

How good is Harry's memory? When he learned that I had attended Oxford High, he immediately reminded me of perhaps one of the lowlights of Oxford Area High School sports history. I was a member of the original Oxford High football team when the sport was revived in the late '60s. For our very first varsity game, our coach, Fred Green, could not resist bringing his young charges back to his old stomping grounds and challenging his former high school coach, the legendary Tony Apicella at Chichester High. It did not go well.

We lost 72-3. I was part of that 3 points. I held the ball for a Chuck Peterson field goal. We actually had to do it twice. The first kick was nullified by a penalty.

It was the year after Billy Johnson graduated, long before he would become known in the NFL as "White Shoes." All I know is that day all we saw were the shoes of a kid named Joe Miller running all over us. He returned the opening kick for a touchdown and it was all downhill from there. I think he scored 5 or 6 TDs.

Harry delighted in finding little nuggets involving the Oxford Hornets and dropping them into his 'Today in History' Delco sports reports.

No one knows more about Delco sports than Harry.

And no one is more responsible for coverage of women's sports. It was Harry who first noticed the vast gulf between the way newspapers covered men's and women's events. It was through Harry's dogged determination that women finally started getting equal coverage. I'm proud to say the Daily Times was a big part of that revolution.

I'm even prouder to say I worked with Harry Chakyun.

Yesterday Harry was honored with the Delaware County Athletes Hall of Fames' 2017 Robert Finucane Award. It's named for another outstanding Delco journalist.

They picked the right guy.

Read about Harry here.

Forget the NFL Draft, how 'bout those Phils!

Is there anything more inane, a bigger waste of breath, than the constant blathering about whom the Eagles are going to select in the NFL Draft.

Don't get me wrong. The event is a big deal, being held this year on the steps of the Army Museum on the Ben Franklin Parkway in Center City. Yes, it's causing some traffic issues and has become the bane of tourists who for a few weeks will not be able to make like Rocky and race up those famous steps. But it once again puts Philly in the national spotlight.

What I can live without is this non-stop talk about what the Eagles will do with the 14th pick in the 1st round. Will they trade up? Or move down? Will they select a corner. Will they roll the dice on running back Joe Mixon and his checkered past? There's enough hot air surrounding this annual event to blow dry Mel Kiper's hair.

It's been talked about for weeks. And in the end it doesn't mean a thing. The Eagles hopefully will get a player Thursday night who can step in and help them right away. Hopefully they will not have a repeat of a few years back when they actually moved up to select Jon Harris or Danny Watkins.

In the meantime, is anyone paying attention to the Phillies? They just swept the Braves, thanks to a very strong outing from starter Zach Eflin and back-to-back-to-back homers. The evens their record at .500. They're 9-9 and just three and a half games behind the Nats in the NL East.

In other words, we're almost a month into the season and the Phillies are still meaningful.

At least a helluva lot more meaningful than who the Eagles will pick Thursday night.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The trouble with kids today

OK, you can call me a Grumpy Old Man.

I happen to agree with Springfield Police Chief Joe Daly.

He's issuing a stern warning to kids - and their parents - about some of the hijinks that kids in the township are engaging in. It is not a unanimous opinion.

I have heard from readers who are coming to the kids' defense, asking why the township does not provide more for them to do. And yes, I am among those who are always whining that kids never seem to lift their faces up from their phones.

Now they go out, and everyone comes down on them for it.

I am lucky, as I freely admit to anyone who asks.

I grew up before the Internet age. I have total deniability as to the myriad of knuckle-headed things I did as a kid. There is - to the best of my knowledge - no video evidence. There are no Google links, no proof that sticks out on Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat. It's one of the things I thank God for every night when my head hits the pillow.

Believe me, I did plenty, and caused my parents no shortage of grief.

But I still stand with Daly, and his warning to kids about some of the things they are doing.

We take up the chief's cause on our editorial page today as well.

NFL thinks Eagles are ready for prime time

The NFL thinks Carson Went and the Eagles are ready for prime time.

The Birds have no less than five prime time matchups this season. The NFL released the 2017 schedule Thursday night and the Eagles kick things off Sunday, Sept. 10 against the Redskins and wrap up the season on New Year's Eve against the hated Cowboys.

In between they will be in the spotlight, with a bunch of prime time appearances, including a home game on Christmas night, a Monday night contest vs. the Raiders.

They don't play their first home game until Sept. 24 vs. the Giants, another 1 p.m. Sunday game.

They hit prime time Thursday, Oct. 12 vs. the Panthers.

Here is the complete schedule.

So grab your pencils and do the wins & losses.

Don't look now, but Doug Pederson's ears may be ringing as the Eagles drop their first three games, against the Skins, Chiefs and Giants. They should rebound from there, but I still see this as a fairly challenging schedule.

Me? I would love to spit out what I spit out every year. That would be 10-6 and a playoff spot. I don't see that happening with this schedule. The Eagles will have their hands full just trying to play .500.

Feel free to disagree.

That's part of the fun of being a fan.

Here's the full schedule:

Sun., Sept. 10: at Redskins, 1 p.m., FOX

Sun., Sept. 17: at Chiefs, 1 p.m., FOX

Sun., Sept. 24: vs. Giants, 1 p.m., FOX

Sun., Oct. 1: at LA Chargers, 4:05 p.m., FOX

Sun., Oct. 8: vs. Cardinals, 1 p.m., FOX

Thurs., Oct. 12: at Panthers, 8:25 p.m., CBS/NFLN/Amazon

Mon., Oct. 23: vs. Redskins, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Sun., Oct. 29: vs. 49ers, 1 p.m., FOX

Sun., Nov. 5: vs. Broncos, 1 p.m., CBS

Sun., Nov. 12: BYE

Sun., Nov. 19: at Cowboys, 8:30 p.m., NBC

Sun., Nov. 26: vs. Bears, TBA, FOX

Sun., Dec. 3: at Seahawks, 8:30 p.m., NBC

Sun., Dec. 10: at LA Rams, 4:25 p.m., FOX

Sun., Dec. 17: at Giants, 1 p.m., FOX

Mon., Dec. 25: vs. Raiders, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Sun., Dec. 31: vs. Cowboys, 1 p.m., FOX

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, April 20

The Daily Numbers: 4/20. Yes it’s today’s date. It’s also a big day for pot smokers, National Weed Day, something of a high holiday for marijuana users.

8 states where recreational marijuana use is now legal.

375 nurses and techs at Delaware County Memorial Hospital who have a tentative agreement on a new deal with the hedge fund that now owns the Crozer system.

2 day strike done by the nurses back in March in their attempts to get a new deal.

75 firefighters who responded to massive fire in a Chester mattress warehouse.

5 juveniles arrested in Eddystone after series of clashes.

2.50 case price for base SEPTA fares, up from $2.25, under the proposed budget.

2 bucks for those using the new Key card system.

3 percent hike in taxes in the Rose Tree Media budget.

0 resident comments on the budget as it was adopted Monday night.

100 people who took part in series of discussions leading up to the budget.

173 dollar tax hike for average home in the district.

23 months in jail plus 1 year of probation for a Chester man for his role in the cover-up of a fatal beating in Chester.

2 home runs for Jay Bruce in leading Mets over Phillies last night.

5-4 loss for the Phils.

5 hits, 3 runs off Phils starter Vinny Velasquez, who pitched much better last night.

3 runs he surrendered were all courtesy of the 1st Bruce dinger.

4 runs on 8 hits for the Phils.

20 weeks pregnant for Serena Williams. That means she was likely 2 months pregnant when she won the Aussie Open. Wow!

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

Tip to Pete Mackanin. Consider pitching around Jay Bruce.

I Don’t Get It: Am I the only one wondering why Bill O’Reilly getting canned is such a big deal?

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Springfield Police Chief Joe Daly, who is reading kids - and their parents - the riot act after a series of incidents involving young people in the township.

Quote Box: “It’s never been this bad. Enough is enough.”

Chief Daly, after posting stern message to kids and parents on Facebook.

A message for the Immoral Times

This one is too good to pass up.

I noted in a blog item this week that not everyone was especially thrilled with Monday's print column, the one in which I admitted a couple of vices, namely potato chips and a somewhat salty vocabulary.

Yesterday I received this email taking me to task for my blue streak. I thought I might share it with readers, just in case you were under the impression that everyone loves what I write. I assure you that is not the case.

"Mr. Heron - too much info! Dropping F-bombs isn't something to be proud of but obviously you feel it is acceptable. No wonder our society has stooped to the lowest level of civil discourse. As editor of the paper, I would expect a higher standard from you. Please stop mentioning your Catholic upbringing, you are an embarrassment to the nuns. With all due respect, next year during Lent, why not discontinue the foul language and eat all the Herr's potato chips you like. Recently in the news, a construction site posted a sign "no foul language here"! Correct this personal failing, it is a bad habit that needs to be stopped and it is very unprofessional."

I loved the sign-off as well:

Immoral Times

I am guilty as charged. Actually the reader is right. I'm not proud of my outbursts and I will work to curtail them. I do, however, appreciate the suggestion that I not forego potato chips next year. Excellent advice.

Georgia on our minds

We have something in common with President Trump. We're not kidding. We have Georgia on our minds.

We're talking politics on our editorial page today.

Specifically, the lack of sizzle as we approach the spring Primary. Especially when you compare it to that special congressional election in Georgia that sparked national attention as a refendum on the first 100 days of the Trump presidency.

Still, there are a lot of important things that will be decided in this primary. Make sure you voice is heard.


We explain it on today's editorial page.

A salute to Serena Williams

Serena Williams won another grand slam title back in January. Ho-hum. It was her 23rd Grand Slam tennis title.

But this one was a little different.

She wasn't alone.

Wednesday the tennis superstar announced that she is pregnant, and in fact was pregnant at the time she won that crown.

Let me repeat that: Serena Wiliams said yesterday she is 20 weeks into her pregnancy. She won the Australian Open a little less than 12 weeks ago. In other words, she was two months pregnant at the time.

I think we can close the discussion on the greatest female athlete in history now.

You go, Serena.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, April 19

The Daily Numbers: 2 alarm fire that raged through warehouse in Chester Tuesday night.

2 alarm fire that hit vacant house in Lower Chi last night.

59 million lawsuit slapped on Monroe Energy by BP amid oil woes at Trainer refinery.

3rd DUI charge nets a house arrest sentence for Lansdowne councilman.

10 homicide in the county so far this year. All 10 have been recorded in Chester.

9 of them a result of gun violence.

4 new members added to the Catholic school hall of fame.

29 of April date for Loyalty Day in Springfield.

22 of April is Delaware County Community Day.

88, age of Dorrance ‘Dodo’ Hamilton, Main Line philanthropist and heiress to the Campbell Soup fortune. She died this week.

0 wins for the Union so far this year. GM Earnie Stewart says he’s not considering a shakeup.

6-2 win for Phils over the Mets in 10 innings.

4 runs scored in the 10th to propel Phils to win.

2 runs for Mets in 1st inning, nothing after that.

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

Here we go again. Freddy Galvis may have cost the Phillies a chance to beat the Mets in regulation last night when he failed to run out a popup that drifted into fair territory. He was on first instead of second, and failed to score on a double later in the inning.

I Don’t Get It: Donte Island isn’t going anywhere. A Delco judge has rejected his request to move his trial for shooting Officer Chris Dorman.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the gang from ‘Delco Proper.’ Looks like the comedy set in Delco may be picked up by Comedy Central.

Quote Box: “The atmosphere in Delaware County, your honor, is so toxic that this defendant cannot get a fair trial on his side of the state and that is why we’re trying to move it.”

- Attorney for suspected cop shooter Donte Island, charged with shooting Officer Dorman.

Georgia on his mind

Cut the Ray Charles music.

President Trump has Georgia on his mind.

The Tweeter-in-chief is declaring victory in that special election race to fill the congressional seat vacated by Tom Price, who joined Trump's cabinet as Secretary of Health.

The race was seen as an early test of the Trump presidency, just 90 days into his first term.

There was a ton of hype surrounding the possibility of Democratic newcomer Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old former congressional staffer. If Ossoff had been able to capture 50 percent of the vote, he would have won the seat in what has traditionally been a solid red, conservative Republican district.

Didn't happen.

Ossoff fell a few points shy and now will go to a runoff against the top Republican vote-getter, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel. They were the top two finishers in a field crammed with 18 candidates.

Democrats are crowing that this near-victory in what has been solid Republican turf for decades - Price won 62 percent of the vote here in November - is a sign of growing disenchantment with Trump.

The president is claiming victory, saying Ossoff failed to win the seat outright and will fall against Handel in the June 20 runoff.

Make no mistake, Trump's name was not on the ballot in Georgia, but the vote was all about him.

Almost makes you look forward to our next congressional election in these parts, looming out there in November 2018. Three Democrats already are lined up to challenge Pat Meehan. It will be interesting to see how much support Meehan wants - or gets - from a White House he clearly has serious disagreements with on key issues. Remember, Meehan was one of the few who asked Trump to step down after that video of him disparaging women surfaced.

For now all we have to look forward to is a fairly routine Primary election on May 16, where parties will fill their slates for County Council, county row offices, along with municipal, school board and magisterial district judge races.

Maybe we should pumping in the Ray Charles music to Delco to liven up these races.

A salute to Officer Joe Chambers

Sometimes life does not imitate art. Sometimes it just imitates life.

And we're glad it does.

A few years back, Joseph Chambers, then a Ridley teen and junior volunteer firefighter, made headlines for his heroic actions in helping pull a Philadelphia police officer from his burning police cruiser after it crashed on a Philly street.

It was appropriate. Chambers had a burning desire of his own - to one day be a police officer himself.

A few years later, Chambers has seen that dream come true.

He's not a part-time officer in two Delaware County towns.

On our editorial page today, we salute Officer Chambers, and the idea of life imitating life.

Final sad chapter in Aaron Hernandez saga

Thanks for ABC's Wide World of Sports, we know all about "the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat."

Life, as opposed to sports, is a little harder.

That's what I thought this morning when news broke that former New England Patriots star tight end Aaron Hernandez had been found dead in his prison cell.

Just last week, Hernandez had been acquitted in a double murder. But he was still looking at life in prison after being convicted of a third murder.

This morning he was found in his prison cell, hanging by a sheet. He had apparently blocked the door to the cell.

Aaron Hernandez had it all, one of the top tight ends in the NFL, on maybe its premier, dominant franchise.

But it wasn't enough.

Just incredibly sad.

You can read about the Hernandez case here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Man ruled competent to stand trial in Scotty's death

There is an update on one of the worst stories I have encountered in my four decades in this business. Last week Jillian Tate was in court in Chester County to enter a guilty plea in the horrific torture and beating death of her 3-year-old son, Scotty McMillan.

The official report on how this little red-headed tyke died - and what Tait and her live-in boyfriend allegedly did to him - makes you wonder if there is any limit to human beings' cruelty, and bottom that we cannot surpass.

As part of her deal, Tait is expected to offer testimony against her boyfriend, Gary Lee Fellenbaum, who is believed to have inflicted the most heinous beatings to little Scotty.

Yesterday he was ruled competent to stand trial. And those proceedings will not be moved out of Chester County. Tait and Fellenbaum are charged with several days of beatings and torture that led to Scotty's death.

Just how unfeeling were these people. After one of the most vicious beatings, they put the unresponsive Scotty in his bed, then went out and got pizza, brought it back to the trailer, had sex, then munched on pizza while Scotty was dying just a few feet away.

Unimgainable? Yes, although to be honest, I'm beginning to wonder if there is any such thing any more. Here is the full update on this ugly story.

Read that headline on this blog item carefully. There is an error in it. Calling this guy a man really stretched the definition of the word.

Praying for another resurrection after a fire in Chi

I suppose it could have been worse.

That likely won't come as much comfort to the faithful at Memorial Presbyterian Church in Upper Chichester. Less than 24 hours after they gathered in the sanctuary for Easter services, fire broke out and heavily damaged the church.

You can get all the details here.

Thankfully, no one was injured. But their building suffered heavy damage.

Now the faithful will be praying for another resurrection, only this one involving their house of worship.

Cursing my fate as readers respond

In this job, I'm pretty used to fielding complaints.

But yesterday's response from a reader was a first.

I got a voice mail from a woman who wanted to take me to task for Monday's print column. In it I noted a couple of my foibles, including my secret vice, potato chips, which I gave up for Lent. That was a substitute for trying to refrain from cursing during those 40 days, which is pretty much a lost cause these days.

The woman who called said the way the column was presented in the paper, in which we used a photo of my old high school buddy Ed Herr, who just now happens to be the spokesman for his family's snack food empire, made it appear it was Ed who had the cursing problem.

Now I happen to know Ed. He is one of the most God-fearing businessmen I have ever encountered.

I assure anyone else who was under this impression that Ed does not share my penchant for a color vocabulary.

Chip happens? Yeah, I guess so, even when you're not even planning it that way.

Monday, April 17, 2017

It's of primary importance

Today is the last day to register to vote in the May Primary.

I'm not exactly expecting a mad dash by throngs to the County Courthouse in Media.

As far as elections go, this is about as unsexy as it gets. It's an off-year municipal primary.

That doesn't make it any less important. It just does not have the sizzle of the presidential cauldron we just endured a few months ago. On the ballot in May will be candidates seeking their party nomination for a slew of county offices, as well as municipal posts and school boards, and races for magisterial district judge.

An interesting thing has happened since the nation elected Donald Trump president.

Activism has been on the rise.

Will that translate into a big spike in numbers of voters taking part in the primary.

I'm not betting on it.

You can get all the details on what is at stake in the primary here in terms of what is up for grabs in Delaware County and here for what is on the ballot in terms of statewide races.

A chip off the old block

Forty days is longer than you think.

Especially when you have given up one of your favorite snack foods for Lent.

We spent Easter Sunday with our daughter, her husband, our son and his fiancee in D.C. Sunday.

I learned several things along the way.

I can't believe I am saying this, but the tiny town I grew up is for the most part just a memory.

When did Oxford become a metropolis?

Maybe it's because it was the Saturday before Easter, but I found myself sitting in traffic in my old hometown, wondering where all these cars came from. I guess that is one of the things that happens when Walmart comes to town, along with a big shopping center on the edge of town.

Things took a decided turn for the worse when we decided to duck into the Dunkin Donuts to grab a coffee for the ride home. In this instance drive-thru is a bit of a misnomer. Crawl thru is probably a better description. I spent 20 minutes in the drive-thru - and then they didn't get our order right. We actually had to send my wife's latte back because by the time we got up to the window it was ice cold. The replacement arrived with sugar. My wife was not happy.

I was still a bit in awe at what has happened to my home town.

I always drive through town on our way to picking up I-95 down in North East. But I barely recognized the sleepy little town I grew up in. On the way home, I did something I've never done before - I actually bypassed Oxford.

Maybe it's because I was in a hurry to get home.

And why might that be? Well, because I knew what was waiting for me when I got there.

Potato chips.

Yes, that most glorious snack food, and one that I have not enjoyed for the past 40 days of Lent.

I talk a little bit about Lent, giving things up and what I do for a living in today's print column, my weekly Letter From the Editor.

You might say it's a case of "chip happening."

The Joseph Chambers story

Forget life imitating art.

Sunday we noted a case of life imitating life.

That would be our lead story on Joseph Chambers. A few years back, the Ridley teen made headlines when he helped pull a Philadelphia police officer from his burning police cruiser.

It garnered a lot of attention and got Chambers and the officer a spot on the 'Ellen DeGeneres Show.'

For Chambers, it was just an opportunity to do the right thing, something he says he learned from his parents.

It also provided him with an opportunity to achieve his dream. It's probably not an accident that Chambers sprang into action when he saw that police car in flames. After all, his dream was to be driving one of those cruisers.

Just a few years later, Chambers' dream is reality.

He is serving as a police officer in two different Delaware County towns.

Staff writer Rose Quinn caught up with Chambers to deliver a great story Sunday - a case of 'life imitating life.

You can read the full story here.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The face of an angel - & his encounter with pure evil

I've been doing this job a long time.

I'm not supposed to react emotionally to stories. I've seen and read just about everything. I learned pretty early that you can't react to every horrific story you cover. Those that do usually don't last that long in this racket.

We cover a lot of very sad, very emotional stories.

Then there is the story of little Scotty McMillan.

We had reason to revisit the saga of the 3-year-old redhead from Chester County with the cherubic face this week.

We also revisited two other faces in the case. You might call them the faces of pure evil.

Scotty's biological mother, Jillian Tate, was in court to enter a guilty plea in her son's beating death. She is expected to testify against her boyfriend.

The word's "beating death" don't begin to relay what these two did to this poor child.

It's simply unimaginable.

I thought I had been repulsed by stories over the last four decades. Then I read what these two are accused of doing to Scotty McMillan. If makes you wonder what can possibly drive people to this kind of savagery.

It's not human.

Some days in this job, you just have to shake your head.

Getting the guns

Everybody knows Chester has a problem with street violence.

It's not the only municipality in Delaware County with the problem, but it certainly does gather its share of headlines.

A big part of that problem is something else everybody knows: There are too many guns in Chester, in particular too many guns in the hands of people who are not legally allowed to possess them.

So how do they get them?

A big part of Chester's gun problem is something called the "straw purchase." That occurs when someone who can legally purchase a firearm does so with the intent of giving or selling it to someone who cannot legally buy one, usually because of a serious criminal background. That is why county and city officials are fighting hard to eradicate this particularly egregious problem.

Don't think they are taking this problem seriously.

You might want to talk to Vikki Towns-Perez. Of course to do so, you will have to visit her in Delaware County Prison. The mother of four is the latest to be facing serious jail time for a series of straw purchases of guns.

It's on our editorial page today.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Mike Fusco's dream

On our editorial page today, we salute the dream of Mike Fusco.

The Aston resident and longtime proponent of open space, along with Barry Pinkowicz, had a vision of turning abandoned railroad tracks into a hiking and biking trail.

It took more than 20 years, but that dream is now a reality. They officially opened the Chester Creek Trail. It's only 2.8 miles, but it truly could be called the Stairway to Heaven.

Unfortunately, Fusco did not live to see his dream come true, but his vision will be honored every time someone smiles while walking that pristine visage.

You can read our editorial here.

Gotthavva free coffee! Thanks, Wawa

Our very own Delco-based convenience store has a gift for all of us today - free coffee.

That's right. Free java.

The company is once again celebrating a milestone - its 53rd anniversary - and is giving away free coffee all day Thursday.

Just stop into any local Wawa store and you can score a free coffee, any size, all day.

“Wawa Day provides us with a chance to connect with and honor the millions of customers we’ve served over the past 53 years who have been so integral to Wawa’s growth over that time,” said Wawa President and CEO Chris Gheysens. “It’s always exciting to celebrate our customers, associates and communities by giving away one of our most beloved products, Wawa coffee!”

So how much coffee does Wawa expect to dole out today? The company estimates it will give out 2 million million cups of coffee at its more than 750 stores across six states.

Gottahavva indeed!

Thanks, Wawa.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, April 12

The Daily Numbers: 15 billion dollar economic impact on the region from Philadelphia International Airport.

3.6 billion dollar boost for Delaware County.

23,750 Delco residents employed at the airport.

17 percent of the badged workforce at the airport claims Delco as home.

96,000 full-time employees in total at the airport.

78 million dollars in taxes generated for city of Philadelphia.

2/3 of the airport actually sits in Delaware County.

50 residents slowly returning to their homes after fire roared through a Lansdowne apartment building Sunday.

11 years in prison for member of Warlocks motorcycle club from Upper Darby.

60, age of Andrew Carr, who was the former director of the Upper Darby Recreational Gym for 12 years.

2 crashes that snarled traffic on Baltimore Pike yesterday.

7 Irish American heroes saluted at the Delaware County Veterans Memorial Sunday.

71, age of J. Geils, founder of the J. Geils Band. He died this week.

2 Democrats seeking nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7.

20,000 people who used the pay-by-phone with the Philadelphia Parking Authority. It’s being shut down because the company providing it is going broke.v 145,000 dollars believed stolen from special needs clients by a Montgomery County attorney.

22 of May, when jury selection will commence in the Bill Cosby Trial.

3 home runs for Yoenis Cespedes for the Mets last night in romp over Phils.

14-4 shellacking of the Phils.

20 hits pounded out by the Mets.

2 1/3 innings for Phils starter Clay Buchholz, who left with arm strain.

14 extra base hits for the Mets.

8 game hitting streak for Odubel Herrera. He has hit in every game this year.

87.7 million operating profit for the Phillies. That’s tops in baseball.

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

It’s one thing to lose, it’s another to have your nose rubbed in it by all those cheering Mets fans.

I Don’t Get It: Cespedes clearly was in no hurry to round the bases on each of his 3 round-trippers.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Philly International, clearly a huge economic factor in the region.

Quote Box: “With two-thirds of the airport in our county, we are pleased to see the tremendous impact it has for our economy, business and residents.”

- Chamber of Commerce boss Trish McFarland, on report noting huge economic impact of airport on the region and county.

Another famous rock name gone

Neil Young lied.

The 'Southern Man' and rock icon once assured us "rock 'n' roll will never die."

Neil, I edit a newspaper for a living. Part of my job is to note the deaths of the famous and celebrities.

Rock 'n' Roll will never die, but its stars are slowly falling silent.

I think this all started when David Bowie passed away. Last year was an especially tough year for Boomers who saw one icon after another die off.

Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey. This year we lost Chuck Berry, one of the pioneers of rock music.

Today we lose a somewhat lesser name, but at the same time a famous name in rock music.

J. Geils died. He was 71.

Geils was the guitarist and founder of the J. Geils Band.

Raise your hand if you immediately think of the harmonica every time you think of the J. Geils Band.

It was the moment in every J. Geils Band performance you waited for.

"Whammer Jammer, can you hear me, Dicky."

That's when a gentleman named Richard Salwitz would wail away on his mouth organ. Of course we all simply knew him as Magic Dick.

It's a good thing we have the music. Indeed, it will never die.

Even if the rest of us get a little older every day. And the glory of our youth gets a little farther away in the rear-view mirror.

Rest well, J. Geils.

About that Conchester Highway project

That old adage about good news and bad news applies if you happen to use the Conchester Highway, the infamous Route 322, every day.

The good news? The deadly stretch that connects I-95 in Chester with Route 1 out in Concord is finally going to be fixed, widened to four lanes, with the all-important left-turn lanes.

So what's the bad news? Traffic, which is a nightmare on normal days, is going to get worse. And it's going to be that way for a couple of years.

But it's worth the aggravation, not only for those who drive the Conchester, but for residents in the area who are tired of drivers zipping through their neighborhoods trying to dodge the traffic.

It's the price of progress - and it's on our editorial page today.

Not a good night for Philly fans

It's one thing to lose a baseball game.

What happened to the Phillies - and their fans - last night was something else entirely.

The Phils got blown out by the Mets, shelled in an ugly 14-4 victory. The Mets pounded out 20 hits and seven home runs. Yoenis Cespedes hit three by himself. Reliever Adam Morgan surrendered four dingers, thus earning himself a ride to Allentown after the game.

To add insult to injury, Phils' starter Clay Buchholz left the game after just two and a third innings with a strain in his right forearm. He is not expected to make his next start. That might not be a bad thing after he got rocked for eight hits in his short stint.

None of that is what is most distressing about the Phils' loss last night however.

Adding additional insult to injury is seeing a throng of Mets jerseys sprinkled liberally throughout Citizens Bank Park, even dominating several sections. And then, of course, seeing those sections erupt in cheers every time the Mets hit another home run. They should have just had a spring on their derrieres last night - that's how often they were jumping out of their seats. And all of this comes with another troubling backdrop.

Forbes magazine yesterday ranked Major League Baseball teams according to their finances. Guess who checks in as the most profitable team in baseball? That would be none other than your local pinstripes.

The Phillies operating income - what they bring in vs. what they pay out - checks in at a healthy $87.7 million. The closest franchise is the Cubs at $83.8 million. The Cubs won the World Series last year. The Phils, well, you know the name of that tune.

That leads to this inevitable conclusion. You don't have to win to make money in pro sports. Endorsement deals and huge TV contracts assure owners of turning a nice profit before a single ticket is sold.

In Philadelphia, we know that all too well.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The race is on in the 7th

Well, that didn't take long.

Two Democrats yesterday announced their intention to take on incumbent Delaware County Congressman Pat Meehan, R-7.

And both made it clear who they were running against: Donald Trump and his policies.

Dan Muroff is an attorney and the former board president of the anti-gun violence group CeaseFirePa.

Molly Sheehan is a bioengineer and medical researcher.

Muroff is not a stanger to local politics. He entered the Democratic Primary in the 2nd Congressional District in 2016. He came in a distant fourth, behind the evential winner and the troubled Chaka Fattah, who was awaiting trial on corruption charges.

Whoever wins the Dem nomination will face an uphill fight against Meehan. The 7th District, once considered a tossup district, is now solidly Republican, thanks to the magic of redistricting. It now includes most of Delaware County, as well as a bizarre jigsaw shape that touches on four other suburban counties.

You can read our story on the challenge to Meehan here,.

Century Marks

Even after 100 years, some things don't change.

We still live in dangerous times. A century ago, America under President Woodrow Wilson was reticent about engaging in foreign entanglements. Then we plunged into World War I, ostensibly "the war to end all wars."

Didn't quite work out that way. A hundreds years later, we still find ourselves juggling crises on a world stage, even as many Americans look to pull back from our role as the "world's policeman."

This weekend two events took place in Delaware County to mark the historic events that took place 100 years ago.

In Media, they gathered to note the entry of America into World War I. And in Eddystone, they took the time to remember one of the borough's darkest days, and honor those lost in the great Eddystone Ammunitions Co. blast. More than 130 people lost their lives in the disaster. The remains of many of the victims were never recovered.

But that did not stop many from traveling to their common grave in Chester Rural Cemetery to remember the lessons of the past.

You can read our editorial here.

Spring fever arrives

Back when I was a kid in school, an 80 was nothing to write home about.

Of course, it helps if you were a product of parochial elementary schools, where we awaited with trepidation those numerical grades, with a 95 being high praise, an 80 being about a B, 70 a C, and below that - well, we don't really like to talk about that.

More then a few decades later, 80 takes on a whole new meaning.

Yes, we actually hit 80 degrees yesterday, on April 10. That was the official recording at the airport. Raise your hand if you think of George Carlin every time someone mentions the temperature at the airport. (Ask your parents, kids!). We apparently hit 80 just after 4 p.m. yesterday. Unfortunately, by the time I got home just before 7, some clouds had dimmed the sun and there was a touch of chill in the air. I had to settle for standing out on the deck, dreaming of dripping hot, humid summer nights.

Today looks to be even better, as we threaten records set back in 1887. The forecasters tell us we could threaten the mark of 84 degrees. Which means that we could be facing a serious case of spring fever.

You can get the full forecast here. Now where did I put those golf clubs?

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Daily Numbers for Monday, April 10

The Daily Numbers: 100 years since the U.S. plunged into World War I. The event was commemorated this weekend at the courthouse in Media.

100 years since the deadly explosion at an Eddystone munitions plan. That even also was marked this weekend.

2.8 mile path on the Chester Creek Trail officially dedicated this weekend.

3.6 mile stretch of road that runs from Route 1 in Concord to I-95 in Chester. It’s Route 322, the infamous Conchester Highway.

260 million dollar price tag to finally wide the road, something that has been in the planning stages for decades.

325,000 price tag for a historic mansion that is on the block in Haverford.

1.4 million price tag for improvements to the Ridley High School athletic complex.

2 alarm blaze that damaged apartment building in Lansdowne Sunday morning.

50 residents displaced from their homes.

8.1 cent spike in cost of gas at the pumps this past week.

2.59 a gallon average price in Philly region.

2.39, the national average.

39 cents higher than what we were paying a year ago.

4-3 win for Phils to take series from Nationals.

2 of 3 wins in the series for the Phils.

2 years, how long it’s been since the Phils took a series from the guys from D.C.

5 strong innings from starter Jeremy Hellickson, who surrendered just 1 hit before he left with cramp in his arm.

3 run homer to tie the game surrendered by closer Jeanmar Gomez, who may not be the closer much longer.

3rd time in last 4 years the Flyers have missed the playoffs.

1 major title for Sergio Garcia, who won the Masters yesterday in playoff vs. Justin Rose.

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

Looks like Jeanmar’s Gomez’s days as Phillies closer are numbered. Skipper Pete Mackanin said he would talk to the reliever after he blew another save yesterday, surrendering 3-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman. The Phils still rallied for the win in the bottom of the 9th inning.

I Don’t Get It: A 10-cent spike in gas prices seemingly overnight. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to All those who took part in commemorations of World War I, both at the county courthouse and in Eddystone this weekend.

Quote Box: “Mike was a great advocate for this - his personality was critical to the project moving forward.”

- Andy Reilly, talking about Mike Fusco, the driving force behind the Chester Creek Trail, which was dedicated Saturday

Noting a couple of Century Marks in Delco

It was a historic weekend here in Delaware County.

At the courthouse in Media, they were marking the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I.

And in Eddystone, they also noting a 'historic' event, the 100th anniversary of one of the darkest days in borough history, the explosion at a local munitions plant that too the lives of more than 100 residents.

Relatives of several of those killed in that blast came back to the borough Saturday to reflect on their loved ones. In many instances, no remains were recovered after the blast and fire.

They have a word that is often bandied about in these kinds of instances. They call it closure.

I think it fits perfectly for the scene in Eddystone.

We covered both of these important events in the county.

We tied them together with a front page we titled - Century Mark.

Sometimes, the readers talk back

I have said many times that only two people call the newspaper: Those who are desperately trying to get something into the newspaper, and those who are desperately trying to keep something out of the newspaper.

I can't tell you how many phone calls I have gotten in which the voice on the other end of the line says something like this: "Uh, a friend of mine got busted for DUI. Is that going to be in the paper?"

Some of those same people call back incensed when in fact the item they feared does in fact make it into print - or online.

Of course they inevitably want to dispute the facts in the story, assure us that we got it all wrong, and that we'd be hearing from their lawyer. Sometimes we actually do. It's not a pleasant experience.

You work in this business for awhile, and you get used to it. We deliver a lot of bad news, embarrassing things that many people would just as soon never saw the light of day.

What we don't often get is people calling the newspaper to thank us for something that appeared in the paper.

That changed last week.

And it came from an unlikely source, one that is usually defending his city from the way it is often portrayed in the pages of the newspaper. Yes, I realize that describes many towns in Delaware County.

But it is particularly apt for this one town.

And it's why it made that voice mail special.

So who was it? It's in my Monday Letter From the Editor.

There is only one Augusta National

It is actually the one Sunday every year when I would not mind a cool, damp, drizzly day - perfect for congealing on the couch in front of the TV.

Now believe, I have not had some kind of conversion. I still love sunny, hot weather.

But the Masters happens only once a year. It is my favorite sports event, and I can sit in front of the tube entranced by the glory of the Augusta National Golf Club.

So what was I to do yesterday, on one of the first truly glorious Sundays of spring. I held out as long as I could. Raked the front yard. Even chipped a few golf balls in the back yard with my son, who was visiting for the weekend.

The three of us - my wife, myself and my son - even pulled out some lawn chairs, plopped them in the back yard, and soaked up some sun for about an hour

But we all knew what was coming. About 4:30 we headed inside, and I made a beeline for the TV, just in time to catch all the drama that the Back Nine at the Masters seems to deliver every year.

The only thing that could have made it any better? Yes, I still pine for Tiger. Don't ask me why, but it's just different when he is on the leaderboard. Not sure we're ever going to see that again.

But the truth is the star of the Masters is not the players, it's the stage.

There is simply no place on Earth quite like Augusta. It's on my bucket list, which gets longer by the day.

I felt good for Sergio Garcia, who finally won his first major title with a birdie on the first hole of a playoff with Justin Rose. That would be the same Justin Rose who won the U.S. Open a few years back right here in Merion.

Both men had opportunities to sink putts to win - and both missed.

When Rose sailed his tee shot on the playoff hole into the trees on the right, it opened the door for Garcia, who seemed to be on the brink of once again flaming out after trouble earlier in his round.

But Garcia put his tee shot in the fairway, and his approach about 10 feet from the hole. He had two putts to win it after Rose bogeyed the hole. I was glad he sank the birdie putt.

As Rose put it succinctly after the match, he'd rather lose in the playoff by two than just an agonizing single stroke.

Around these parts, we are headed to 80 degrees today, according to the weather folks.

Perfect weather for dreaming about one day standing on that 18th green with a putt for the win.

Well done, Sergio.

And as always, well done, Augusta

Friday, April 7, 2017

Is it bias? Or opinion?

I had an interesting back and forth with a reader on Facebook yesterday.

As opposed to most of the nasty back and forth that stands for reasonable discussion on social media, this one was fairly civil.

A reader posted a comment on one of my blog posts linking back to this blog in which I said I expected to get some negative feedback from loyal Catholic readers because the paper was featuring another negative article about the church, this time dealing with the rector at Villa St. Joseph in Darby, who was indicted by the feds for allegedly stealing more than half a million dollars from the facility.

I noted how many readers accused the newspaper - and this editor - of having a 'bias' against the church.

The person who posted on my Facebook page said he was somewhat surprised by that, since the paper had endorsed a 'bias' on the part of its writers.

As proof he pointed to the editor's note that had appeared on a Sound Off item the day before, responding to a post complaining about a columnist Jodine Mayberry's point of view, suggesting she held a bias in her writing. Our editor's note indicated that columnists are supposed to have a 'bias.'

The writer clearly took this proof that the paper in general was biased.

I responded, of course, that this meant nothing of the sort.

It is one of the crucial functions of being a columnist. They are in face supposed to be biased, not in any negative way, but biased in favor of making the argument of their convictions.

It again stressed to me that many people don't understand all the machinations of the newspaper, and the clear difference between opinion and column writing and straight news writing.

Here is how I responded. I hope this might clear up any misconception others might have along the same lines:

"You missed the point of that note. That was for columnists. That is their job, to present opinion. It's not the ONLY opinion, or the CORRECT opinion, it's only THEIR opinion. There's a big different in a column - opinion writing - which is naturally biased toward the writer's point of view - as opposed to news writing. I want columnists with strong opinions. But we certainly do not promote a bias in news stories." The reader suggested maybe I was twisting the meaning of the word bias, that he had looked it up and suggested we were wrong to use that word.

Again I replied:

"There are many definitions of bias. I did look it up, and in this instance it means an inherent leaning in one direction. That would of course be the columnist's opinion. In this instance it's merely an indication of having an opinion, a rudimentary requirement of a columnist. It comes down to this: They have to have something to say. That means that they are often biased toward their point of view. It means they lean in the direction of their opinion. Don't twist yourself into a pretzel thinking you've caught us admitting out news columns contain a bias. They don't. But our columnists often do. They are biased - they have a prejudice toward their own opinion. You're really thinking too deeply about this. It's not a liberal or conservative thing. It's a columnist thing. They are opinion pieces, and their biases are on full display."

I have to constantly be on guard that we do not let any inherent bias creep into our news reporting.

But I will continue to do just the opposite when it comes to presenting points of view.

That's the whole point. It's not a bias. It is opinion.

Time for towns to pay for state police coverage

Mike Sturla is upping the ante on Gov. Mike Wolf.

You might remember that a few weeks ago the governor first broached the idea of slapping a fee on towns that rely on state police instead of setting up their own local police force.

In short, a lot of people think these towns - such as Concord, Edgmont and Middletown here in Delaware County - are getting a free ride. Wolf said he would like to see a fee of $25 per person place on those towns that want to use the state police. Sturla rolled out a bill that would increase that to $110 per person over a 10-year period.

They're both right.

It's time for these towns to pay their fair share. The argument that they are already paying state taxes for these services doesn't hold water. So is everyone else.

We make the case for the fee on today's editorial page.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, April 6

The Daily Numbers: 100 years ago today, marking the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I

535,000 dollars, how much the rector of Villa St. Joseph in Darby is accused of stealing.

98 years, how long the feds believe Monsignor William Dombrow was skimming from the archdiocese.

77, age of the monsignor.

80 years in jail, what he faces if convicted.

7 Irish-American vets who will be honored Sunday at the Delaware County Veterans Memorial.

3 billion dollar deal in which Sunoco will sell most of its AM PM convenience stores to 7-Eleven.

1,110 stores involved in the transaction.

50 minute rain delay before Phillies-Reds game last night.

2-0 loss for the Phils.

19 Phils in a row set down by Reds pitcher Brandon Finnegan at one point.

2 hits through 6 innings for Phils’ starter Jerad Eickhoff. Then Joey Votto homered for the difference in the game.

58, age of former Flyers player and scout Ilka Sinisalo, who died yesterday.

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

Odubel Herrera alert: Probably not a great idea to be stealing down 2-0 with Tommy Joseph at the plate in the ninth inning. He was initially called out but it was reversed on appeal.

I Don’t Get It: The baseball season goes on hold today. The next 4 days are devoted to the Masters.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Cameron Hazlett and Joe Yannuzzi. The two young firefighters were honored this week.

Quote Box: “One of the things they taught us at Chester Made was to build relationships.”

- Bonita Taylor, on the community push to clean up Sun Village Park in Chester.

The Mariner East 2 debate rages on

It remains the biggest economic story in Delaware County, if not the region.

And today there are about 2 billion reasons why some people - in particular chamber of commerce folks and labor unions - say Mariner East 2 is a jackpot for the region.

Mariner East 2 is the pipeline Sunoco Logistics wants to build, criss-crossing the entire width of Pennsylvania, including 11 miles in Delco. It will ferry Marcellus Shale products to the older Sunoco refinery in Marcus Hook.

A new report says the project could have a massive economic impact on the region, maybe a 2 to $3 billion boost.

Foes of the plan are not impressed.

The debate rages on.

It's on today's editorial page.

The case against the Villa St. Joseph monsignor

I guess you can break out the anti-Catholic rap again.

Every time we write something that paints the church in a bad light, I get accused of being anti-Catholic. That does not bode well for today's news.

Another priest has run afoul of the law. This one comes with a twist.

Monsignor William Dombrow was the rector of Villa St. Joseph, the archdiocese retirement home for priests in Darby Borough.

Yesterday the monsignor was indicted by the feds, charged with stealing more than $500,000 - that's half a million bucks - from the archdiocese coffers.

But as usual it's the details that are especially troubling in this case.

Dombrow apparently had sole access to the books at the Villa.

What the feds allege he was doing in pocketing insurance payments as well gifts sent to the Villa in the name of deceased priests.

And what did he allegedly use the money for? Can you say casino? Yep, this whole thing came to light because of a string of payments to Harrah's Casino in Chester. The federal prosecutor in charge of the case says the monsignor used the money to fund a 'lavish lifestyle' for himself, including nice dinners out and evenings with the Philly Pops.

The feds allege this was going on for nine years before anyone caught on.

You can get all the details here.

Yep, I'm going to accused of being anti-Catholic today.

100 years later, marking the 'war to end all wars'

It was supposed to be, in the words of President Woodrow Wilson, "the war to end all wars."

If only.

It didn't quite work out that way.

100 years later, we're still living in a very dangerous world.

Today Delaware County starts the process of marking the centennial of World War I.

You can get all the details on this weekend's celebration here.

The best sports event of the year

We interrupt the Phillies push to make Pete Mackanin's prediction come true to bring you the best sports event of the year.

OK, it helps if you're a golf nut, like me.

Today is the first day of the Masters.

I've never been to Augusta, Ga., let alone ever getting a sniff of the Augusta National Golf Club. But I can tell you it is on my bucket list.

Today is the real first day of spring. Too bad it's supposed to be pouring down rain here most of the day. I'm not sure what the weather calls for today in Georgia.

Golf first major is on tap - and already there is some intrigue.

The No. 1 player in the world, Dustin Johnson, apparently fell down some steps and wrenched his back yesterday. His status for the tournament is still unclear.

Doesn't matter to me.

That's because the golfers are not the stars this weekend. The course is.

There is something special about this spring weekend at Augusta National.

Even television recognizes just how special the place is. They limit commercial interruptions to just a few minutes each hour.

I won't be in August this weekend.

I will be in front of the TV most of the day Saturday and Sunday.


Now on the tee ... spring is here. Summer can't be far behind.

The Phillies will be with us all summer.

But this weekend belongs to Augusta.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, April 5

The Daily Numbers: 2,562 municipalities in Pennsylvania.

50 percent of them use state police for law enforcement.

959, House bill that would slap fees on towns that use state police rather than paying for their own police coverage.

110 dollars a head, fee that Rep. Mike Sturla wants to impose on these towns, phased in over 10 years.

234 dollars per person, what state police estimate it costs them to provide coverage.

7 Delco towns that have no police force of their own and instead rely on state police.

8 counties in the state that have no local police at all.

31, age of man in 2 child sex abuse incidents who was gunned down on Chester street.

31.5 billion dollar budget plan approved by Pa. House.

32.3 billion dollar plan backed by Gov. Tom Wolf.

114-84 vote to approve the measure

3 billion dollar deficit facing the state.

800 million in new revenue needed.

246 million dollar cut in spending in this GOP plan.

5 state universities, including Cheyney, that could face layoffs.

58 people, including 11 children, killed in gassing incident in Syria.

600 Major League Baseball uniform jobs that will be staying in Easton area with sale of Majestic Uniform plant

75, age of Ralph Archbold, the Philadelphia actor who often portrayed Ben Franklin. He died this week.

1-0 loss for the Flyers in shootout to Devils last night.

141-118 loss for Sixers to the Nets, the worst team in the NBA.

19 wins for the Nets.

81 points in the first half for the Nets.

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

Steve Mason recorded a shutout - the Flyers still lost in a shootout.

I Don’t Get It: If the Sixers have not officially thrown in the towel, what was that game last night all about.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the kids at Springfield High and their efforts to raise money in the fight against cancer last weekend with their annual Steve Stefani Dance Marathon, in honor of a beloved high school teacher.

Quote Box: “If we have the kind of fiscal problems that we do, why are we giving away $600 million worth of free services?”

- Rep. Mike Sturla, on plan to slap fees on towns that rely on state police.