Friday, June 30, 2017

Road rage turns into fatal shooting

It can be fairly said I'm not the most patient person in the room.

Yes, I have a short fuse.

That is a dangerous thing. Just ask anyone who works in the same office with me.

But once again this morning I am reminded that is not a good thing, especially when you are behind the wheel of a car.

I am reminded again this morning that you really don't know who is out there on the road, and what they are capable of.

That is what I thought as I tried to get my hands around word that broke late last night that road rage victim Bianca Roberson was not simply run off the road in a road rage incident.

Chester County D.A. Tom Hogan last night announced the shocking news that she had been shot by a man in a red pickup as they jostled for position on Route 100 in West Goshen.

He fired one shot directly into her head, killing her instantly.

Then he fled the scene.

The manhunt for him is on, while Roberson's family hunts for answers in a truly senseless killing.

And for the rest of us, perhaps a reminder. Take a deep breath. Don't raise your voice. Don't spark a confrontation. You really don't know who is out there, and what they are capable of doing.

Here's the latest on the story.

Trump again

The president of the United States, the commander-in-chief, is now ridiculing the looks and intellect of a female TV news show host on Twitter.

I give up.

Once again, I don't think this is a Democrat thing. Or a Republican thing. It has nothing to do with conservative or liberal.

I want my president to be above this kind of childish, sexist, petulant rant.

He does, after all, have the nuclear codes at his disposal.

I really just want him to be presidential.

I'm not sure he's capable of that.

Today even Republicans are begging him to change his ways, and to get off Twitter.

I don't think it will do much good.

Donald Trump for some reason has no expectation about upholding the dignity of the office.

Yes, he's going to be criticized. That goes with the office, sir.

You are not running a corporation. You are the president.

Please, I'm begging you. Act like it.

Nothing fair about funding in William Penn

Well, it looks like they will be the budget deadline in Harrisburg.

Legislators have a deal in place on a $32 billion spending plan. It passed the Senate Appropriations Committee last night and likely will be voted on by both the House and Senate today. The state must have a new budget in place by midnight.

The budget is not likely to help the situation in William Penn.

This week they passed another budget in the beleaguered district. They managed to avert more draconian cuts, including taking an ax to sports and extracurricular activities. Yes, that was under consideration, ironically enough on the same day a Penn Wood High track star, Dennis Manyeah, graced the Back Page of the Daily Times as our Boys Track Athlete of the Year.

They are used to this in William Penn.

They have been playing on an unbalanced playing field in terms of education funding for years.

It is only a reminder that, when it comes to funding our schools, there really is no such thing as a Fair Funding Formula. At least not yet.

You can read out editorial here.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Apple that shook us to our core

Time flies when you're checking your email or scrolling through social media.

Something happened 10 years ago today that has literally changed the way we live.

In fact, I would put it right up there with what I still consider the single most important invention - the one that fundamentally changed our lives forever. That, of course, would be the TV remote control.

My kids still don't believe that not that long ago you actually had to get up out of your seat, walk over to the TV, and adjust the knob if you wanted to change the channel.

If you don't think that simple activity changed our lives, look around. We are all less active, less inclined to get up off the couch. And that says nothing of the thunderbolt this delivered to advertisers, who suddenly realized they no longer had a captive audience. Instead, they now had to cater to people who had the option of 'surfing' through their commercials.

So what happened 10 years ago today?

Apple rolled out its very first iPhone.

There are days I curse this gadget. And, of course, days that I don't know how we ever lived without it.

There are days I long for the times, such as when I set off on my first cross-country drive to Colorado. No credit card, no cell phone, a car that I probably shouldn't have been driving across town, let alone across the country, mom and dad standing in the driveway waving and saying, 'Call us when you get there.'

The smartphone has done some I'm not sure anyone realized. It has brought us all closer together, and in a way driven us all farther apart.

Don't believe me? Try this test.

Next time you're in the mall, check out the food court. There was a time, not that long ago, when people would be sitting at all those tables conversing with each other. Now you see them all with their heads down, staring at their phones.

It is the Apple curse.

We no longer talk. We text.

We no longer write. We push out messages 140 characters at a time.

We no longer keep two hands on the wheel. We reserve one for our phone, so as not to miss the latest text or social media update.

We are a distinctly different society than we were 10 years ago.

I'll leave it to you if that means we're better off or not.

Happy 10th birthday.

Woops, gotta run. Have to check my email, of course.

Rolling the dice in Harrisburg

On our editorial page today, we focus on a dilemma facing Republicans in Harrisburg.

We are now a little more than one day away from the mandated deadline for the state to have a budget in place.

Gov. Wolf still sounds optimistic, but there is no concrete sign of a breakthrough.

Part of the solution no doubt is going to be another expansion in legalized gambling.

But how much is too much.

It appears Republicans, who control both the House and Senate, may be at odds over a proposal that would introduce more than 40,000 video gaming terminals in bars, restaurants and truck stops.

So Harrisburg might finally have to ask itself this question:

How much is too much when it comes to gambling in Pa."

You can read our editorial here.

Minor developments are big news with Phillies

The Phillies have won two games in a row.

Hold off on the champagne.

That 5-4 win over the Mariners gives the Phils a rare two-game sweep and their first series win in awhile.

Is it a coincidence that this sudden turnaround comes after Freddy Galvis finally sounded off about the team's sloppy play. Good thing we didn't wait for Pete Mackanin to blow a fuse.

Here's what the Phillies have done to us - and our summer.

Do you now find yourself almost as interested in what the Triple A Lehigh Valley IronPigs do every night?

Do you check to minor league boxscore to see what second base phenom Scott Kingery did? By the way, he had a hit in his first at bat again last night. That's three straight games he's done that, and comes on the heels of a two-homer game.

Rhys Hoskins homered, tying him with teammate Dylan Cozens for the International League lead.

Even struggling Jorge Alfaro got into the act, hitting a home run as the IronPigs snapped a four-game losing streak.

With Howie Kendricks appearing headed for a trip to the DL with a groin problem, and Cesar Hernandez still weeks away from a return, it will be interesting to see if the Phils show any interest in giving Kingery a taste of The Show.

That's what the Phillies have done to summer in these parts.

The radio and TV updates almost give as much coverage to what their minor league team - and future stars - are doing.

That should be a concern to Matt Klentak and the rest of the Phillies brass.

This team needs something. And it needs to be more than just Freddy Galvis.

If they do nothing, how many people do you think are going to be in those seats in late August and September?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cost of education? High; Jack Hontz? Priceless

It's easy to be critical of public education these days.

It's expensive. Taxes are constantly going up.

Then you meet someone like Jack Hontz.

And you realize what he means to schools, children, families and communities is priceless.

And when he's suddenly snatched away, you are dumbfounded at what you've lost.

Today they continue to mourn the loss of a very special man in the Wallingford-Swarthmore community.

On today's editorial page, we pay homage to Jack Hontz.

Tough day for the Baker family

You might say yesterday was not a good day for the Baker family of Chester County.

You remember Barry Baker Jr. He's the man now charged with sucker-punching a man who suffers from cerebral palsy outside a West Chester convenience store.

First Baker mocked the way the man walked as he entered the store. Baker waited outside and when the man exited, he out of nowhere just hauls off and cold-cocks the guy square in the jaw.

It took a few days but Baker was eventually corralled after the video of the incident went national.

Yesterday, Baker's father was in the news.

Barry Baker Sr. was among 46 people charged in a heroin-opioid sting operation run by the Chester County D.A.'s office.

Chester County D.A. Tom Hogan could not resist pointing out the connection during his press conference announce the arrests as part of "Operation Wildfire."

"“It’s a heck of a family,” the D.A. quipped.

But that was not the last item involving the Bakers to hit the news yesterday.

Barry Baker Jr.'s fiancee was charged with hindering his apprehension in the time he was on the lam.

She now faces charges of helping him avoid capture during his two-week run from law enforcement authorities.

Denise Ranae Schmidt is charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution, a second-degree misdemeanor, for actions she took on behalf of her fiancé, Barry Robert Baker Jr. while he was wanted in Chester County on two bench warrants.

No Pa. budget deal; vigil planned tonight in Media

It's the old Harrisburg two-step.

With just a few days before the deadline, the state still does not have a budget in place.

Now even one of the state's most reliable fail-safes when it comes to these budget sagas is causing a bit of discord.

Republicans, who control both the House and Senate, continue to be opposed to anything that can be construed as a tax hike.

That doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room.

What it does, however, is allow for another expansion in legal gaming in the state.

But now Republicans apparently cannot even agree on how much expansion is a good thing.

At issue is a push to allow Video Gaming Terminals in neighborhood taverns, bars and truck stops.

It could raise as much as $250 million in new revenue, not a bad thing when the state is looking at a deficit that is believed to be in the billions.

But not everyone thinks putting these VGTs in neighborhoods is a good thing. For one thing, a lot of people fear people's rent checks could wind up in them, instead of paying the bills.

Then there is the state lottery. Gov. Tom Wolf fears that fund, which largely benefits the state's senior citizens, could take a serious hit if VGTs become law.

And finally there are the state's legal casinos. As you might expect, places like Harrah's down in Chester are not thrilled about the prospect of all these terminals providing even more competition for the gambling dollar.

Then again there are groups who believe that the entire process is out of whack, and instead want the state to adopt what they call a "fair and balanced budget."

Good luck with that.

The group will hold a vigil tonight at 6 outside the Media Courthouse.

We'll be there to cover it.

What's with this weather?

One of the great joys I take in summer is the notion of getting out of bed - even at the ungodly hour I do - tossing on a T-shirt and shorts, and heading downstairs, where I of course immediately fire up the laptop to do a little work before getting dressed for work.

Don't ask what time I do this. No, it's not normal, but it's the way I go about the job.

But there has been something else not normal the last few days.

What's with this weather?

I know, I know. You all are shaking your heads and wondering what exactly is wrong with me. Somedays I do the same, but not for the same reasons.

This morning when I headed downstairs, I had on fleece pajama bottoms, a T-shirt and fleece zip top - and I was still cold.

When I got in the car this morning, it registered all of 58 degrees.

That's not summer. At least not to me.

Where are the lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer?

Where is my humidity?

At least the forecast is calling for a warm-up and more humid weather as we head toward the weekend.

The thicker the better, in my opinion.

Go ahead, call me weird. You won't be the first one.

Get the full forecast here.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Sunoco fires back; ad focuses on pipeline safety

Even in my normal pre-dawn, coma-like state, it got my attention.

It looks like Sunoco is ready to fight back.

This morning I saw what appeared to be the first TV ad aired by the company, defending its pipeline operations.

It was a Sunoco employee, talking calmly about something that is rarely talked about in a calm manner in many Delaware County communities. He was talking about the company's pipelines, and his job in making sure they operate safely. The worker indicates it's something the company has been doing safely "for 85 years."

Unless you've been under a rock, you know that community unrest continues to grow in opposition to the company's plans, specifically Mariner East 2, which will run a pipeline 350 miles, nearly the entire width of Pennsylvania, to brings hundreds of thousands of barrels of butane, ethane and propane from the state's Marcellus Shale region to Marcus Hook. From there it will be stored and then shipped to customers, both domestic and foreign.

It has the potential to be an economic blockbuster, even possibly making Marcus Hook, which just last Saturday celebrated its 125th anniversary - including its long hallmark as a refinery center - as the energy hub for the entire Northeast U.S. Much of that refinery business is now gone. The pipeline has the potential to replace it. As you might expect, it has the support of many in government, labor unions and the Chamber of Commerce.

But if it runs through your back yard, or within a few hundred feet of your kids' elementary school, you might not be that crazy about it. Slowly but surely, community opposition to the pipeline plan is growing.

Many of the easements needed to construct it, however, have already been granted. Community groups are now going to their local school boards and municipal governments are now going to their leaders asking serious questions about those deals.

For their part, Sunoco Logistics maintains that residents' concerns are overblown, that the pipeline, which will carry these gases at high pressure across more than 11 miles of western Delaware County, are being constructed to the highest safety standards, and that maintenance is and safe operations of the pipeline is a top company concern.

Residents are not that sure.

There is even talk that some parents are considering asking Rose Tree Media School Board if they have considered moving kids out of Glenwood Elementary, off Pennell Road (Route 452) in Middletown. The Mariner East 2 pipeline will run a stone's throw from the school. Residents are starting to talk about worse-case scenarios and what might happen in the event of a spill or explosion. It's not a pretty picture. Company officials insist those dangers are being overstated. They are not, however, issuing any guarantees.

A group of Delaware County residents called the Middletown Six went to court last week to challenge the easements given to Sunoco to construct the pipeline, which is already well under way in both Delaware and Chester counties.

They are hinting a lawsuit could be in the works to stop construction.

Now Sunoco is hitting the airwaves with an employee talking about his job, and how safety is his top concern.

He's not the only one.

Important messages in the war on heroin

It's the faces that we too often forget.

That was not possible Saturday night in Chichester.

Yes, a group of more than 200 gathered to remember those we lost to the heroin scourge. But it is the faces that stay with you. Real faces of real people, lost forever, leaving devastated friends and family to go on.

Their photos were prominently displayed during the vigil.

But something else also was on hand, something we sometimes don't see in talking about this problem.

It's called hope.

We talk about that on today's editorial page.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Familiar face helps 'The Hook' celebrate 125

Yes, that was a very familiar face leading the cheers at Saturday's big celebration as Marcus Hook turned 125.

Perhaps no one knows the Hook better than former mayor and U.S. Congressman Curt Weldon.

The favorite son proved you can go home again, but in reality Weldon has never really left the town where he served as fire chief and mayor.

"The people of Marcus Hook are the strength of Marcus Hook," Weldon told those gathered to mark the special occasion. "The success of Marcus Hook is not based on refineries or roads or piers or buildings; it's

based on our people."

Weldon reminded us of something that most people in Delaware County already know.

The people of 'The Hook' are a special breed.

"If you were born in the Hook, you're are part of a special group," Weldon said. "It's like being in the Marine Corps, When you're in the Marine Corps, you're part of the team. When you[re born in the Hook, other people can say things about, but we are special people."

Weldon noted that perhaps no town has had a bigger effect on the nation's economy per capita than his hometown on the Delaware River.

"The success of these plans and these refineries is not because of the politicians, it's not because of of bureaucrats, it's because of the people in these towns who have put up and dealt with the problems that these industries bring when they come to town.

"We didn't measure our wealth by whether you had a car or whether we had a big bank account ... we measure our wealth by what we had as a family. That's the strength of the people of Marcus Hook."

Well said, Curt.

The guy would make a pretty good politician some day.

And happy 125th, Marcus Hook!

Marking more milestones

I keep getting hung up on milestones.

Last week I was marking 35 years here at the Daily Times.

This week I note a couple of other ones.

One involves a huge task we tackle every year. That would be printing the names of every senior who is graduating from high school in Delaware County.

It's one of life's true milestones, and one we still take seriously. No, we were unable to get to every high school graduation this year. We covered many of them with photos and also asked readers to get involved by submitting photos of their own.

The other milestone? Well, this one is personal.

I've done a lot of things in my life.

But marrying my bride is the best one.

This past week we celebrated 34 years together. Or, as she always points out, she is always trying to catch up to the Daily Times.

Unless you've done it, it's kind of hard to explain what it's like being married to a newspaper editor.

That's even more true today than it was when I first got into this racket.

I don't think anyone really knew the kind of profound effect the Internet and the dawn of the 24-hour news cycle was going to have on our lives.

If you don't believe me, ask my wife. She'll be more than happy to fill you in.

We're still together, which is more than I can say for the many newspaper relationships I've seen end in tatters over the years

. She's still the bet thing that ever happened to me.

You can read about a couple more milestones in this week's print column, my Letter From the Editor.

Another round of All-Delco teams

It's that time of year.

We're back with another round of All-Delco teams, this time profiling the best in spring sports.

Today you can read all about James Spence, who led Springfield to its second consecutive state title.

Check out the story here.

Here's the rundown for the rest of the week:

Tuesday: Girls Lacrosse.

Wednesday: Softball

Thursday: Boys Track and Field.

Friday: Girls Track and Field.

Saturday: Baseball.

Don't miss any of these special editions.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Not the time to be cutting heroin funding

It's a little hard to conceive, especially in light of what has been happening here in Delaware County the past few weeks, but you would think most people would agree this is not the time to be cutting the funding and programs used to treat heroin addiction.

Apparently not everyone agrees.

Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., believes the Republican health care plan rolled out in the Senate, which includes cuts in Medicaid coverage, will do just that.

You can read our editorial here.

Some thoughts on attacking the heroin problem

After spending much of the last week writing and talking to people about the heroin epidemic that is ravaging so many communities, here's what I think I know.

We're not going to arrest our way out of this crisis.

The key is going to be prevention, and that includes much closer monitoring on how doctors dole out prescription painkillers. We hear again and again about how people with serious injuries and pain start taking pills like Vicodin and Oxycontin with legitimate doctor's prescriptions. But too often the prescription lapses, but the patient's needs do not.

They keep looking for a solution, and too often it takes them out on the street in the hunt for a cheaper alternative - heroin. I also am convinced that we still are barely scratching the surface when it comes to serious treatment for heroin issues. That's one of the things Upper Darby police Superintendent Mike Chitwood has focused on.

And I also had a conversation with someone who knows - who's been through it. He also points at the over-prescribing of pain meds, claiming a majority of these people became addicted to prescribed opiates they received from their doctors as a form of pain relief for injuries such as back, neck, arthritis ailments and others.

More than that, he concurs with Chitwood that the 30-day treatment covered under most insurance plans is woefully inadequate. He says it takes months if not for years to kick the opioid addiction. The standard of 5-7 days of detox, followed by 21 days of outpatient help will not get the job done. Instead, he suggests opioid addicts need a minimum of three months of controlled intensive outpatient treatment in order to re-wire their brain. That needs to be followed up by at least six months at a sober living or halfway house.

Something to think about, especially now that Washington seems hell-bent on slashing Medicaid coverage.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The importance of medical marijuana

In noting that Delaware County got shut out of the medical marijuana bonanza - at least at this point - it's easy to lose track of the fact that this is still a very important program that is going to help a lot of people.

The two licenses for medical marijuana growing-cultivating facilities were both awarded to Berks County operations. The MedGarden LLC application from the McKee family came in third place. It's likely they could get a license in the next round.

In the meantime, let's hope they get this program up and running as soon as possible.

Keep in mind this is not 'weed' that you smoke. These leaves will be made into creams, tinctures and ointments to treat people with serious illnesses.

Let's hope they get it up and running as soon as possible.

You can read our editorial here.

The first rule of baseball

A lifetime ago, I considered myself something of a baseball player.

The truth is I probably had a modicum of talent. But I loved the game. I would play morning, noon and night. I was a very good fielder, could man any position in the infield, and considered myself a fair hitter.

But what I prided myself on was what players refer to as "knowing the game."

It's also part of the respect the game demands.

Any time I am dealing with kids playing ball, I offer this one piece of advice.

If you're in the field, before every pitch ask yourself this question: If this ball is hit to me, what am I going to do with it. Who's on base? How fast are they? How many outs are there? What's the count? Do I have a force-out somewhere.

If you're on base, ask yourself the same question: What am I going to do in this situation? How many outs? The count?

That's why watching this Phillies team is making me so miserable.

They managed to do it again last night. The classic, come-from-ahead loss.

And of course it featured another incredible bone-headed play from a guy who seems to specialize in them. That would be Odubel Herrera.

He ran through a stop sign from third base coach Juan Samuel on a double by Freddy Galvis with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied. It wasn't even close. Herrera was out by 10 feet. So instead of having runners at second and third with two outs, the Phils were headed to extra innings.

Of course, they managed to lose to the Cardinals, 7-6. Hard to believe that at one point in the game they led, 5-0.

Herrera was pulled from the game in a double-switch.

The loss dropped the Phils to 22-48, 26 games under .500.

After the game he said he was playing "aggressive."

"I wanted to win the game, I put my head down and kept running," Herrera said."

Playing hard is admirable. It's something this Phillies team doesn't too enough.

But you also have to play smart. Herrera has to know the situation, and know that he can't make the last out at the plate.

I know that. A lot of people do.

My question is why doesn't Herrera, and so many other Phillies, and I guess a lot of major leaguers.

I learned it on the sandlot.

Herrera is learning it at Citizens Bank Park, while being paid millions.

What's wrong with this picture?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Delco shut out in 1st round of medical marijuana licenses

Hope you weren't already banking on an economic bonanza from the arrival of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.

Delaware County got shut out yesterday as the state doled out the first 12 licenses for medical marijuana growing and processing licenses.

There were two entities in the county who submitted applications, including one fronted by the McKee family, well-known builders, from Aston Township.

That does not mean Delco will be shut out entirely.

There will be another round of licenses handed out next year.

And in a couple of weeks, the state will be awarding licenses for the dispensaries that will actually sell the medical marijuana.

You can read our full story here.

Keeping guns away from those who hate

We seem to be swimming in hate.

That seemed evident in the screeds and rantings left behind by James Hodgkinson. He's the Left-leaning zealot who professed hatred for Donald Trump and Republicans before opening fire on a group of GOP congressmen as they held baseball practice on a field in Alexandra, Va.

How to attack this kind of hate is debatable.

What should not be - again - is that people with that kind of hair-trigger temperament probably should not have access to guns. Sen. Robert Casey was in the area this week to again push legislation, the Disarm Hate Act, that would ban anyone convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime from buying or possessing a gun.

Would it have prevented Hodgkinson from going over the edge and deciding to use Republicans as target practice. Maybe not.

But we still feel it's a good idea.

Dealing with hate is likely going to take a little longer.

You can read our editorial here.

Summer is over for Phillies fans

Welcome to the first day of summer.

Congratulations, you survived another winter. And another wet, cool spring.

Bring on those lazy, hazy crazy, days of summer.

Unless, of course, you're a Phillies fan.

For you, summer is over.

Yes, even before it began.

This morning, on the first day of summer, your Fightin' Phils find themselves 25 games under .500, 20 games back in the National League East.

This comes after another of their special collapses last night, giving up 7 runs in the 11th to fall to the Cardinals, 8-1. You want to declare a moral victory in that the Phils managed to hang dead even with the Redbirds for 9 innings, be my guest. Me? I'm taking this personally.

These Phillies have robbed me of one of my most prized rites of summer. Oh, I still retreat to the deck when I get home at night, hoping to squeeze out the last few drops of sunlight.

But I am hard-pressed to take my little radio with me so as to listen to the Phils.

They don't seem to care, why should I.

Well, I guess it still beats listening to Chris Matthews talk over his guests on 'Hardball.'

The Phillies are now 22-47. They have won one game in two weeks.

A week ago young GM Matt Klentak was telling us Michael Saunders could heat up and "carry this team on his back for a month." Yesterday Saunders, given a guaranteed $9 million deal by Klentak as one of his big off-season acquisitions, was carrying his bags to the door, designated for assignment by the team. Saunders hit .205 with six home runs and 20 RBIs in 61 games. He struck out 51 times. He was joined by struggling reliever Jeanmar Gomez.

But Klentak did not call up any of his high-profile young players for a shot at 'The Show.'

Instead he tapped outfielder Cam Perkins and left-hander Hoby Milner from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Those IronPigs, by the way, continue to be red-hot, leading the minors.

Maybe we should adopt them for the summer.

Because aside from that, for Phillies fans, summer is over.

Even before it began.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Grad Tab: Our annual salute to the graduates

It's one of life's milestones - and one that certainly should be noted by your local newspaper.

Every year around this time I get calls complaining about the way we cover high school graduations.

Once again this year, we decided to focus for the most part on photos and picture galleries - both in print and on our website. Unfortunately, we were not able to get to every high school commencement. We did offer to readers that they submit their own photos that we added to our online galleries.

I also featured some submitted photos from schools that we did not get to on our Page Two daily photo feature.

But there is one thing we remain committed to - and it appears in print.

It is our annual salute to graduating high school seniors - the completion of the 12-year journey through our education system. We call it the Grad Tab.

It is our salute to the Class of 2017.

It contains - we hope - the name of every graduating senior in Delaware County.

But to get it you have to buy a copy of the print edition.

It is included in today's newspaper.

Our best to the Class of 2017!

Time for new ideas in heroin war

It's a depressing question.

But I think it's one that needs to be asked.

It came to me after reading our latest update on the heroin battle here in Delaware County. Let's just say the numbers aren't good. In fact, they are so bad I was left with this question:

Are we losing the war on heroin?

Mike Chitwood has seen a few things in his five careers in law enforcement. But even this grizzled, veteran cop says he's never seen anything like this new heroin epidemic.

One thing you can count on with Chitwood is that he's going to speak his mind.

This is no exception.

He thinks it's time for a new approach in battling this issue, a three-pronged attack that includes education, enforcement and treatment. It's in the area of treatment that he believes is especially lacking in the current climate.

It's on today's editorial page.

It's a fight the county - and really the region and much of the nation - can't afford to lose.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Are we losing the war against heroin?

It's hard not to listen to Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood and not wonder if we're losing the war against heroin.

Chitwood has seen just about everything in a long, illustrious career that has spanned more than five decades and struggled with some of the worst society has to offer.

And even he's taken aback by what is going on in so many communities - not just Upper Darby - when it comes to opioids and heroin today.

"I've never seen anything like it," Chitwood said. "I've been doing this for 53 years and I've never seen anything like it. And I don't see an end in sight. I don's see even an out for the near future."

You can read our latest update in the battle against heroin here.

35 years in one place? Yep, it's a rarity

Maybe it's a generational thing.

My kids are always fascinated by the fact that I have worked at the same place for 35 years.

In fact, before we moved our offices last summer, they were astounded that I literally walked into the same building every day for 34 years.

Young people today don't have any such expectation. Not only do they not expect to stay in one place all that long (both of my children already have had several jobs, even if in the same field), unlike their elders they see nothing wrong with it.

Maybe that's why I've stayed at one place for 35 years.

That's one of many things that came rushing back to me last week as I tallied up 35 years in the news racket.

I talk a bit about what I do for a living - and the earth-shaking changes that have rattled the industry, and those who work in it - in today's print column, my weekly Letter From the Editor.

Oh, and there's a bonus. You can hear the story of the best headline I've ever written - and one that never appeared in the Daily Times.

What does Danny Ainge know?

It is the classic nagging doubt that every Philly fan knows is a permanent resident deep in their gut.

It is that thing that, even when things are going right, makes you wonder how this could be.

Or, in other words, what does Danny Ainge know that the rest of us don't?

Why is the Boston G.M. willing to make a deal with the Sixers, in essence allowing them to move up from the No. 3 pick in Thursday night's NBA Draft to the No. 1 slot, thus being able to take top pick Markelle Fultz.

The deal is expected to be formally announced today, after a weekend that had Sam Hinkie-ites seriously saluting "The Process."

With Fultz in tow, the Sixers suddenly could have the underpinnings of a dynasty - at least on paper.

Too bad they still play these things on the court, which is where Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons don't seem to be able to spend that much time as they continue to nurse injuries.

Maybe their luck is about to change.

Or maybe Danny Ainge knows something the rest of us don't.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Another anniversary

As I mentioned earlier this week, it's a pretty heady week here at the Heron's Nest.

Not only this one, but the "nest" at home as well.

Yes, I first stepped foot in the Daily Times on June 14, 1982. Flag Day.

Almost exactly one year later, I made the best decision of my life.

I married the woman who had waited - probably a lot longer than she should have - for me to pop the question.

Little did she know what she was getting herself into.

Ask anyone who has been in this business for any amount of time. This racket is very tough on personal relationships. I can't count the number of fractured lives I have seen over the course of these past three decades.

I got married on June 18, 1983.

So I will mark 34 years of wedded bliss this weekend.

Or, as my wife presciently always points out, "I'm always trying to catch up with the newspaper."

She's not kidding.

I have often joked that my wife has shared me all these years with my "mistress," the Daily Times.

I was only half-joking.

The truth is, she pretty much was a solo act on the home front. She took care of things there, while I was here. She kept the books, managed the house, and - most importantly - took the lead in raising two fantastic kids.

In short, I worked, she did everything else.

I don't doubt that many times in all those moments she spent alone - when I was not there - that she pondered kicking my sorry behind to the curb and starting over.

She never did.

For a long time I worked nights and weekends. We would be like ships in the night. After the kids were born, I would try to get up to see them off to school. I didn't always get there, just as I was so often not there during so many family events. Where was I? Work, of course.

She stayed with me through promotions, and has been at my side the last 18 years as I've sat in the editor's chair.

I don't think either one of us was quite prepared for what the Internet would do to this business - and the job.

Those long hours suddenly became a 24-hour, non-stop news cycle. These days we're a threesome. No, it's not what you might think. It's me, my wife, and the laptop. She is not always amused.

Try living with that for awhile.

But she persevered.

And for that I likely will never be able to repay her.

But it's probably about time I start.

Maybe I can start here: Happy anniversary.

Taking a stand against politics of hate

It was nice - at least for a couple of hours - to see the 'united' return to the United State last night.

Democrats and Republicans gathered on the baseball field to play a charity baseball game - but also to make a statement.

We will not be cowed by those who resort to violence.

I hope it will continue.

My fear is that it will not.

On our editorial page today, we talk about the politics of hate.

It is what happens when partisan bickering goes on steroids.

This is not a Democratic issue, nor a Republican issue.

It's not left or right.

Both sides have resorted to these kinds of attacks.

We're better than this.

At least I hope we are.

You can read our editorial here.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A whole new ballgame

There's no crying in baseball.

Except for yesterday.

What happened on a ballfield in Alexandria, Va., negated the famous line uttered by Tom Hanks' grizzled manager in the Hollywood tome, "A League of Their Own."

What happened outside the nation's capital was enough to leave the nation in tears. This is what it's come to.

An early-morning baseball practice was interrupted by something that should be foreign to us, but is becoming all too commonplace.

It is the ugly "pop-pop-pop" of gunfire. And it is tearing this country apart.

What makes what happened yesterday even more troubling is that this was just not any baseball practice.

These were Republican members of Congress and some of their aides, sharpening their skills for the annual charity game that pits GOP legislators vs. their Dem counterparts.

The fact that these were Republicans was not happenstance. It appears the gunman who opened fire on the field - critically wounding House GOP Whip Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and wounding four others - was targeting them.

It is believed he held a longtime grudge against President Trump and Republicans in general.

It was only the heroic action of Capitol police, part of the security detail assigned to Scalise, in confronting and taking down the gunman, that averted a massacre.

Healing the wounds will take a little longer.

Not just the physical wounds inflicted on those hit by gunfire, but the psychological wounds of the nation as we mull just how far our political rancor has descended.

Ironically, two congressmen from our area were supposed to be on that field, but by happenstance were not, perhaps saving them from the gunman's wrath as well.

Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Chadds Ford, a pitcher for the GOP team, was supposed to be at the practice. In fact he was on the field the morning before, but on this day he had a breakfast engagement on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6, of West Goshen, simply missed his ride by a few minutes. He likely would have been at shortstop, aside from Scalise, who was at second base when the gunfire broke out.

I have been concerned for some time about the partisan rancor that is consuming the country.

I have no interest in pointing fingers. Both sides of the political aisle are at fault. This is not a Republican fault, nor a Democratic rant.

This is an American problem.

An American tragedy if you will.

I was heartened yesterday to see many in Washington reach across the aisle and embrace each other. Some prayed. Others offered hugs.

Civility reigned. At least for a few hours.

House Speaker Paul Ryan led the charge, noting that "an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us."

In fact, it is an attack on the roots of democracy, the underpinning of our great experiment in government. Will it last?

Well, this was the message I received in a voice mail about an hour after the news of the shooting first broke:

"What happened in Washington where only by chance two Capitol police were on hand because Scalise was there otherwise it would have been a slaughter of Republican senators and House members and I can only blame left-wing local newspapers like the Daily Times who regularly dump on the Republicans ... all the way up to Hillary who says resist, resist, resist and then we get those stupid people who think they're a comedian like Kathy Griffin who runs around with decapitated head of President Trump and then the deplorable play in Central Park depicting the death of the president.

"You guys, you keep revving up the crazies and there's going to be hell to pay and I'd like to see you guys - you particularly Phil Heron - write an editorial about that.

"The Daily Times is deplorable because you guys always dump on the Republicans. I'm just ashamed of you."

Looks like this might take awhile.

The heroin scourge just keeps getting worse

We already used our editorial page once this week to address the raging heroin-opioid epidemic that is taking a horrific toll on our communities.

We're back to it today.

That's because after dealing with six overdoses in a 24-hour period last week, things continue to spiral out of control in Upper Darby over the weekend.

Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood noted that in the first 12 days of June, his officers responded to 35 overdoses, much of it tied to heroin that had 'Bull Dog' stamped on the wrappers.

We returned to the topic on today's editorial page. The problem, despite constant pressure from local communities and the county, is not getting better; it's getting worse.

You can read the editorial here.

Looking for some good news? Upper Darby police report that have arrested six people they believe are behind the 'Bull Dog' heroin ring.

You can read that story here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

35 years: Marking a milestone in the news racket

June 14, 1982.

It doesn't seem like that long ago, but I guess it is.

That was the very first day I reported to work at the Daily Times.

35 years.

Seems like the blink of an eye.

I've seen a lot of changes in those three and a half decades. The industry has been turned upside down. The technology we use today wasn't even a figment of Al Gore's imagination when I first arrived in Primos.

My kids always snicker when I used to mention that I went to work in the same building for that long.

Of course, now I can no longer make that claim. We moved to new digs in Swarthmore (actually it's the part of South Chester Road that is technically in Springfield.)

One thing has remained the same after all these years.

The readers. They care deeply about this newspaper. Yes, I said newspaper. If that makes me a dinosaur, so be it.

I can hear it in their voices when they call.

They care.

And that's more than enough reason to keep going.

It's been a great ride.

And it's not over yet.

Thanks for allowing me to come into your homes and offices all these years.

The heroin scourge just got worse

It's worse than we thought.

We thought the heroin crisis hit a new low last week when Upper Darby police responded to no less than six overdose victims in one day, including a mother and father whose plight became known when their children, age 1 and 4, went to a window and screamed for help.

It got worse over the weekend.

Upper Darby police say they responded to six more overdoses.

Here's a quick recap of what the township has faced in just the first six days of June: 35 overdose victims have been revived by police and first responders using Narcan. Unfortunately, the township also recorded two fatalities.

Top Cop Mike Chitwood has seen a lot in his long police career.

But he says he's never seen anything like this current heroin scourge.

"This is the worst I've seen and it's just a snapshot of how bad the problem is," Chitwood said.

You can read our full story on the epidemic here.

Let's put united back in United States for Flag Day

Check the calendar.

It's June 14.

That happens to be a special day.

It's the day we set aside to honor Old Glory.

Yes, it's Flag Day.

Funny, but it seems like the United States has never been more divided.

On our editorial page, we offer homage to that piece of cloth first woven by Betsy Ross.

And we hope that for one day, we can put the 'united' back in the United State.

You can read our editorial here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

No end to the heroin scourge

On our editorial page today, we again are talking about the opioid heroin scourge that is taking a horrific toll on not just Delaware County, but the nation.

It came into acute view last week when word was received that Upper Darby police responded to no less than six OD cases in one 24-hour period, including a mother and father who likely were saved when their children screamed for help.

The problem did not go away over the weekend.

In fact, today Upper Darby police will report they administered Narcan, the overdose-reversing drug, to six more victims. They also registered another overdose fatality.

You can read our editorial here.

More grad salutes

We continued our tour of graduations yesterday by taking in the festivities for the Class of 2017 at Chichester High School.

You can see a slideshow of images by CLICKING HERE.

Every year my goal is to try to cover every high school graduation in the county.

Clearly, we are no longer able to do that.

We are for the most part focusing on photo displays.

Today we will be at graduation for Ridley High.

Again, you can take part in our coverage by using Twitter and the hashtag #delcograduates. Send us your best shots and we will include them in our coverage.

And remember, our annual Grad Tab, with the names of every graduating senior in Delaware County, will appear next Tuesday, June 20.

Cosby on trial

I'm having trouble getting all that worked up about the trial of Bill Cosby.

We know most of the details now. America's dad - Cliff Huxtable - was charged with sexual assault. The Cos, one of the most famous faces in America, says it was consensual.

What he doesn't say is it didn't happen, only that a crime was not committed.

The case is now in the hands of a Montgomery County jury.

Another icon has fallen.

The one thing I was interested in was answered yesterday. I wondered why his long-suffering wife, Camille, had not yet showed up in court, while any number of celebrities and other stars accompanied her husband to court, including some of his co-stars from 'The Cosby Show.'

Camille Cosby showed up yesterday to see his defense consist of one witness and a 90-minute closing from his defense team, which cast his accuser, Andrea Constand, as a liar.

There could be a verdict today. You can get all the details on the closing arguments here.

Actually, the verdict is already in, even if it does not come in a court of law.

Bill Cosby, accused by dozens of women of inappropriate contact, is a dirty old man.

Some like it hot

Be careful what you wish for, I suppose.

Yes, I like it hot. I'mm getting my wish.

We will be pushing record highs today.

The hottest temperature ever recorded on June 13 actually occurred back in 1956, when temperatures clocked in at 95.

According to our friends at Accu-Weather, we could equal or perhaps surpass that mark today.

Schools are closing at noon, if they have not let out already.

It's also going to be a Code Orange Ozone Action Day, which means young kids and those with lung conditions or asthma should limit their time outside.

I would say the over/under on the number of times our friends on TV remind us to stay hydrated is 10 - and I'm taking the over.

The heat wave is expected to last one more day before cooler temperatures take over later in the week.

You can get the full forecast here.

Monday, June 12, 2017

A reader makes his point

I get tons of phone calls here at the Daily Times.

And, of course, a never-ending mountain of email. I've pretty much surrendered to the technology that now consumes my daily schedule - and this job.

Most of the people who contact me - and the newspaper - are less than complimentary about our coverage. The truth is most people who call newspapers want to complain about something.

Then there are people like Jim Cooper.

Thank god.

It's in my weekly Letter From the Editor print column.

Heating up my back yard 'Rotation'

Go ahead and hate me.

I actually like this weather.

The hotter, the more humid it is, the more I like it.

This is the first weekend that truly got me into my 'summer' mode.

This is what my Sunday was like.

As usual I was up early working online and setting up our website.

Then, right after the sun came up, I decided to get out and do some weeding. It was gorgeous, the sun nice warming things up, but not yet too hot to work in the yard.

After my wife and I took our morning ritual, walking the path in our development, and a quick jaunt to Mass, I started what I call 'The Rotation.'

It starts on the deck with the Sunday paper, basking in the morning sun. When that got a tad too hot, I retreated to the patio under the deck, which is in the shade. Then I meandered out into the yard and parked it in the adirondacks for while. Then my wife joined me for a little sun on our chaise lounges.

That's correct, I have no less than five different "stops" I make on this rotation around the back yard.

And, of course, I ended the day with a nice cup of coffee on the front porch, where I can catch the last few glimmers of sun for the day.

Today they are saying we will push the record. High is expected to be 92. And it is going to be even hotter tomorrow.

Bring it on!

Go ahead and hate me.

You can check out the full forecast here.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Comey TV: What it tells us about Trump

James Comey thinks the president of the United States is a liar.

And the former FBI boss says he was fired because of the way he was handling the Russia investigation.

Donald Trump, at least in the words of his high-priced private lawyer, believes he was vindicated by Comey's riveting day of testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Thankfully, his staff managed to convince the president to stay off Twitter during Comey's testimony. It no doubt galls the former reality TV show host to see the ratings garnered by the man he fired.

The president's lawyer held a press conference after the televised session that gripped the nation to point out that Comey testified that Trump was not the target of an FBI investigation, and that the president never told his FBI director to end the Russia investigation. But I'm kind of interested in something the Trump team - including the president - did not say.

Does anyone ever remember anyone asking if the president asked how we go about preventing this kind of Russian meddling in our election process again.

Aside from the political posturing of both sides in trying to score political points from yesterday's hearing, a couple of things became crystal clear: The Russians did indeed interfere with our election process, and they will try to do it again.

But that does not seem to concern the president all that much, at least not that he has indicated.

And it only confirms one of the things I have thought about Trump for some time now.

He's not running the country. He still thinks he's running his company.

It's all about him. Whatever Donald wants, Donald gets. And if he doesn't, well, 'You're fired."

He wants loyalty from those around him.

To him, not the Constitution.

When he didn't get it from his FBI director, who seemed to favor standing up for citizens and the Constitution, he was gone. Trump is an autocrat. He's now running the country the way he ran his real estate empire.

He came to Washington as an outsider promising to drain the swamp.

But he has no clue about how the swamp works.

That is why he has been spinning his wheels in the muck since the day he was inaugurated

. He doesn't realize that back channels with the Russians are not the way things get done in the Intelligence community.

He had no clue that health care "could be so complicated."

He's frustrated that his ambitious agenda is going nowhere while various investigations into his campaign's ties to Russia continue. He can't make it all go away with a shrill command.

Except for James Comey, who as FBI director served at the will of the president.

In this case, Trump returned to his reality TV persona, and showed Comey the door.

Trump doesn't understand the workings of Washington and the presidency.

To him it's personal - and business.

Drain the swamp? He seems like he's drowning in it.

Rolling the dice on the Pennsylvania budget

Thank god for gambling.

How else would Pennsylvania ever climb out of the sea of red ink it continues to wallow in every budget season. This year is no different.

How bad is it? Well the Powerball jackpot Saturday night is likely going to be in the neighborhood of $400 million. Nice neighborhood. If Gov. Wolf of the Pennsylvania Legislature happened to be holding a winning ticket, that would only leave them about $2.6 billion short of balancing the books.

Yeah, it's that bad.

And in Pennsylvania, that can only mean one thing.

More legalized gambling.

You can read our editorial here.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Main Event

Get your popcorn ready.

They've moved the Super Bowl up a few months this year. They also moved the location.

The big event is taking place today in Washington, D.C., as fired FBI boss James Comey testifies about his dealings with President Trump and the Russia investigation.

D.C. has not seen this kind of buzz since the days of Oliver North of Iran-Contra fame, or maybe even John Dean of the Watergate hearings.

Comey already has released his prepared opening remarks. You can read them here.

On our editorial page, we talk about what all this means, and try to put it in a little historical perspective.

Read it here.

It's graduation season - join our coverage!

Graduation season is upon us - and we're inviting you to take part in our coverage.

The truth is we're not able to get to all these graduations - especially when several schools have the big events on the same day.

We are sending photographers to graduations each day this week, starting last night with the festivities at Academy Park.

You can view a gallery of images from the Academy Park graduation here.

Unfortunately, we won't get to all of them. However, that does not mean we're not interested in your graduation ceremony. Instead we're hoping readers join us on social media and send us photos. Send us your pix on Twitter and use the hashtag #delcograduates.

In addition, our annual salute to all graduates in the Class of 2017, our annual Grad Tab with the names of all Delco high school graduates, will appear in the paper Tuesday, June 20.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The struggle against gun violence

On our editorial page today, we are talking again about the elusive hunt for a solution to the problem of gun violence in Chester.

On our front page, we offer proof that Chester is not the only town in this county battling this problem.

But very few days can compare with what happened in Chester last Friday.

Even Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland, clearly no stranger to the city's struggle, was taken aback by four shootings, all in broad daylight, that happened in a matter of hours. One of the shootings claimed the life of a 16-year-old kid walking to school at Chester High.

The city no longer needs marches or rallies.

It needs a solution.

You can read our editorial here.

The dangers of social media

I get asked all the time to speak to high school and college students.

At the end of my remarks, I always leave them with a friendly warning.

Be very careful with social media, especially with what you post.

Take my word for it, the Internet is forever.

Unfortunately, it doesn't take that long for something you post to blow up in your face.

It can happen in a matter of minutes. Take it from someone who wallows in social media all day, and who is increasingly wondering about the worth of all this online social interaction.

I now get a couple of phone calls almost every week, usually from college students, who ask me if a story can be taken down from our web archives. Often it involves them getting in some kind of scrape with the law, perhaps involving a bit of college revelry that may have gone too far. It wasn't that long ago that such actions would cause a minor flap before disappearing forever. Not in the Internet world. Now it never goes away.

Fast forward a few years. Those students are now getting ready to head out into the business world, interviewing for jobs. Lo and behold, when a prospective employer Googles your name, what do you think is the first thing that pops up?

I'm lucky. I grew up in the pre-Internet world. I have total deniability. There is no video evidence of some of the dumb things I did when I was a kid, and I assure you there was plenty.

But don't take my word for it.

Want to understand the loaded grenade that social media has become? Talk to the kids - or maybe even better their parents - who just saw their admissions to Harvard go up in smoke because of things they posted on social media.

The story is here.

You've been warned.

Baseball is a funny game

Baseball is a funny game.

Last week we were calling for Odubel Herrera to be sent down to Triple A. He looked absolutely lost at the plate.

Less than a week later, Herrera is the hottest player in baseball and leading the Phillies to a four-game win streak.

This is all Herrera has done in the last few days. The Phils' centerfield had three straight games with two doubles, including two straight with two doubles and a homer. His last nine hits have been for extra bases

He actually cooled off last night, going just 1 for 4, ending his streak of three straight games with two doubles.

And the Phillies are streaking as well. Last night they got a big performance from starter Aaron Nola, who became the first Phils pitcher this year to go eight innings, as they silenced the Braves, 4-1.

Get all the details here.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Two young lives lost too soon

We cover stories every day that just break your heart.

But I'd be lying if I told you that the ones that affect me the most are those involving young people.

There is something inherently unnatural about a young person dying, about a parent having to bury a child. It's supposed to be the other way around.

We have now covered two instances of young people being taken all too soon in just the last few days.

Last Friday it was Zion Abdullah, a 16-year-old who was gunned down as he was walking to school at Chester High.

He was described as a "good kid" and a football player.

Yesterday another teen athlete was snatched away from us.

The Academy Park community was shaken by word that a popular football player had been killed in a crash on I-95 Sunday night. Two other students remain in critical condition. Jaion Smith was a junior at Academy Park.

Last night hundreds turned out for a vigil to honor Smith's memory.

We know that very often in these instances, our coverage can be seen as intrusive, adding to the misery that friends and loved ones are already experiencing.

That is never our intent.

We join in trying to honor the memory of these two young men, while trying to report the news.

Is it open season on people with disabilities?

Is it suddenly open season on people with disabilities?

First it was the vicious attack on a man with cerebral palsy outside a convenience store in West Chester. A surveillance video clearly shows a man first taunting a customer by mocking the way he walked. But the guy wasn't done. When the man came back out of the store, the abuse actually escalated.

For some unknown reason, the guy hauls off and sucker punches this poor man right in the jaw.

Barry Baker was charged in the incident that went viral courtesy of the Internet.

Then he dropped out of sight, failing to show up for a court hearing on another matter.

Baker was finally taken into custody Monday. You can get all the details here.

Now there is another disturbing video of an attack on a person with a disability.

This one takes place in Philly, where a teen is captured on video viciously slugging a handicapped man.

The hunt is now on for the teen.

What does it say about us that people don't even think twice about mocking and attacking those who clearly are dealing with physical limitations.

And when are people going to realize that much of our lives is now being captured on videotape. That includes just about every time you walk in and out of a convenience store.

Some days, you just shake your head.