Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Yes, we have a gun problem

On today's editorial page, we note still one more gathering of elected officials and lawmen in the city of Chester after another very violent weekend.

We applaud the $500,000 that is going to be used to beef up the Delaware County Gun Violence Task Force. It certainly is much-needed, in Chester and several other towns as well.

But it is not going to resolve the fundamental problem.

We have a gun problem.

And until we note that, and take concrete steps to stop the flow of guns into the city of Chester, and into the hands of people who should not have them, we will continue to have these kinds of daily reports of gun violence.

You can read our editorial here.

A longtime 'Boo'- bird knocks Halloween

Somewhere along the line I fell out of love with Halloween.

Which is odd because it was one of my favorites when I was a kid.

That and Mischief Night.

Yes, in the small town where I grew up, the night before Halloween was nearly as big as Trick-Or-Treat night itself.

That tradition seems to have waned, and given some of the things I remember doing on Mischief Night, that's probably just as well.

But while so many people - including adults - go all-out for Halloween, it no longer does a thing for me.

And that is from someone who could literally hit every house in town as a kid.

Maybe that's part of it. We have in so many instances really lost our sense of community. Or at least I have.

I hate the idea of dressing up in a costume. Look, this face is usually ghastly enough on its own. I don't need any help.

I hope the kids all have fun tonight. Don't make the mistake I used to make all the time as a kid and try to consume all that candy in one sitting.

I think I'll manage to survive.

And just think, with Halloween behind us, we can expect the radio stations to start playing Christmas music 24 hours a day any day now.

Thanksgiving? Hey, I'll just be thankful another Halloween is behind us.

Everything is breaking Birds' way

Trick-Or-Treat, Eagles fans.

I think you can decidedly say this one is a treat.

Everything seems to be breaking the Birds' way.

Consider this:

Their next opponent, Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Linc, is the Denver Broncos.

Come on, admit it. Back in the summer when you were running down the Eagles' schedule, this is likely one of those tough games you thought the Birds might end up losing.

But the Broncos played last night on Monday Night Football, falling to our old pal Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Consider what the Broncos now have to do. After traveling to Kansas City for their prime time affair, the Broncos go back to the Mile High City. Then they have to fly across the country for a one o'clock game at the Linc.

Like I said, everything is breaking the Eagles' way.

You have to like the Birds' chances this week.

Can you say 8-1?

Monday, October 30, 2017

A birthday wish

For a lot of reasons, this past year has been a most trying one for my better half.

And make no mistake, she is just that - and has been for more than three decades.

She has been the rock on the home front while I have spent an inordinate amount of time in the office.

She didn't exactly sign up for this.

As we prepared to share our vows, I was working one of the very few dayside, Monday to Friday gigs in the journalism racket. Then, a month before our wedding, all that changed.

I got a chance to do what I always wanted - to work on the night news desk.

I was thrilled.

She was less so.

A lot less so.

She did not, however, call the whole thing off.

I often wonder if she ever regrets that decision.

It started years - decades really - of sharing me with my 'mistress' - the Daily Times.

She took care of everything at home. I worked.

She raised two dynamite kids, for the most part on her own.

I was doing what I am always doing - working.

It's almost time for that to change. I don't know how I am ever going to repay her, but I'm planning to try.

This past year has probably been the toughest of all.

But she still looks like a million bucks.

One thing she doesn't look like is her age.

Happy Birthday, my love.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Hey, if you want to feel younger, just stand next to me.

There are faces behind those headlines

In this job, it's easy to forget that there are real people behind the stories and headlines we present every day.

Then you get invited to speak to a group - such as the Aston Lions celebrating a very special charter anniversary.

And you sit down right next to someone who is up to his neck in just one of those stories.

It could have made for a very awkward.

But it didn't.

That's the kind of guy Norm Shropshire is.

I explain it today in my Letter From the Editor.

Reign Men

Just call them Reign Men.

This is a game that so many Eagles teams that have let us down in the past would have lost.

A miserable, rainy day. An opponent that had not won a game.

It had all the makings of a 'trap' game.

There was even the dreaded missed extra point. Two of them, actually. We've seen these kinds of games before. But this team seems intent on proving every week that they are different.

The Eagles coughed and sputtered - especially on offense. But they won.

They stand 7-1 and have the best record in the NFL at the halfway point of the season.

Who saw this coming?

Carson Wentz was not at his best. The running game seemed to be spinning its wheels on the Linc's sloppy surface.

But the Eagles defense would not budge, steamrolling a 49ers offensive line that almost ran out of healthy players, and making for a thoroughly miserable day for rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard.

Even Doug Pederson got into the act. For some reason the coach insisted on dialing up more pass plays late in the game when the Eagles should have been more concerned with working the clock.

None of it mattered.

This team - at least through eight games - is showing to be a different type of Bird.

And they're 7-1.

Yep, Reign Men.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

Call it the Thrill of Victory - and the Agony of the Injuries.

The Eagles posted another impressive win in prime time Monday night vs. the Redskins. Carson Wentz again dazzled. But the Birds suffered a couple of huge injuries, losing offensive left tackle Jayson Peters, who protects Wentz's blind side, and inside linebacker Jordan Hicks for the rest of the season.

This game will present another interesting challenge for head coach Doug Pederson. So far this team has rallied behind him. Now he has to find a way to keep his team from falling into what would be the classic 'trap' game against winless San Francisco, who got blown out last week by Dallas.

And there is another big factor in Sunday's tilt. The forecast is calling for monsoon-like conditions, with rain all day. That should turn the Linc surface into a swamp and make handling the ball interesting. This is not the week to have Wentz drop back 40 to 50 times. Instead, this just might be the week to turn the keys to the Birds' offense over to LeGarrette Blount, and let him and the Birds' offensive line wear down the 49ers instead of trying to pass protect for Wentz. The Niners are one of the worst teams in the league against the run.

On defense, even without Hicks, the Eagles should be able to shut down rookie C.J. Beathard and the 49ers scuffling offense. It likely will be an ugly, wet day, but Pederson and the Eagles should prevail.

THE PICK: Make it Eagles 24, 49ers 10. Look for an ugly game in what is expected to be an all-day downpour. The Eagles will take it, as they try to fend off any letdown coming off a Monday night win and now facing the winless 49ers. This would be a great week to have LeGarrette Blount shoulder the load and take some of the pressure off Carson Wentz on what is likely going to be a tough day for throwing the ball.

LAST WEEK: Carson Wentz and the Eagles overcame a sputtering start to roll over the Redskins. It was the kind of prime-time performance in front of a national TV audience that had sports fans buzzing across the country. But the thrill of victory was dampened by two huge injuries to offensive left tackle Jayson Peters and key linebacker Jordan Hicks. More than ever, the Birds will have to rally around their second-year QB, an MVP in the making., The impressive Monday night win of puts Doug Pederson's charges at a gaudy 6-1 mark, best in the NFL. I was on board with the win and raised my personal mark to 5-2.

GAME BY GAME: Chiefs 27, Eagles 20. (My Pick: Chiefs 33, Eagles 17)

Eagles 30, Redskins 17. (My Pick: Eagles 26, Redskins 13)

Eagles 27, Giants 24. (My Pick: Eagles 23, Giants 17)

Eagles 26, Chargers 24. (My Pick: Chargers 27, Eagles 17)

Eagles 34, Cardinals 7. (My Pick: Eagles 29, Cardinals 24)

Eagles 28, Panthers 23. (My Pick: Panthers 26, Eagles 17)

Eagles 34, Redskins 24. (My Pick: Eagles 31, Redskins 19)

Friday, October 27, 2017

A salute to the Aston Lions - & some thoughts on volunteering

I don't get out of the office as much as I used to - or as much as I would like. We take this 24-hour news things pretty seriously. There is not a lot of down time.

I actually enjoy meeting and talking to the public. They always have interesting things to say about the newspaper. And I am always impressed by how much they value it.

We value them, too.

That was the overwhelming sentiment I took with me as I walked into the Ballroom at Boothwyn last night. I had been invited to speak to the Aston Lions on a very special night. When I fielded the call from Bob Hoyt, I wondered if I was going to be able to squeeze it into my schedule.

I'm glad I did.

Last night the Aston Lions celebrated their 70th Charter Night. They've been at this racket even longer than I've been at the Daily Times.

I often write about the notion that community service is quickly becoming a lost art.

Don't believe it? You should have been with me last night.

Most of the members present at last night's meeting have been doing this work for decades. They are all prominent members of their communities. People like Norm Shropshire, the well-known Delco funeral director and member of Middletown council.

Hoyt told me the majority of their Lions chapter are in their 60s and 70s. Some are even in their 80s and 90s. One august member has been volunteering for six decades.

But that is one of the things that struck me about the group. They are all older.

It's the same when it comes to so many of our local volunteer fire companies. Most members are older, have been doing this for years, and do not see that many young people stepping up to take their place.

Our volunteers are disappearing in front of our eyes.

I salute the Aston Lions on their 70th Charter Night. It was a great affair - and it allowed me to get out of the office.

Now if only I could convince more people to carve out some time to volunteer.

The Pa. budget deal

Well, that didn't take long.

After initially digging in their heels Wednesday night, the state House got in line behind the latest funding mechanism for the state budget.

You can forget about a shale tax for another year.

And if you still dream about buying your beer, wine and liquor at a single super store as opposed to stops at a state store, supermarket and maybe your local beer distributor, you can keep dreaming.

As expected, the funding deal is all about gambling, and borrowing big bucks, which in itself is something of a gamble.

The measure is now on the desk of Gov. Tom Wolf, who for some reason is still talking about a severance tax on the state's natural gas drillers.

That's not going to happen.

You can read our editorial here.

But there is an oddity - unique to Delaware County - that is included in the package. It was pointed out on the House floor late Wednesday by state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161, of Swarthmore.

One of the measure included in the package is the green light for online gaming. While those funds will be disbursed by the state in every other county, the measure will allow Delaware County to set up a special authority to handle the funds.

You can learn about that provision here.

Now we wait to see what Gov. Wolf will do. This has gone on long enough. He may not like it, but he likely will sign it.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

When all else fails, roll the dice in Pa. budget mess

Gus the Groundhog would be so proud.

When all else fails, keep on scratching.

And gambling.

Slide over Gus, you're about to get some new competition.

With a four-month stalemate seemingly going nowhere, Pennsylvania legislators appear ready to fall back on an old crutch. They're going to roll the dice - and pony up a massive increase in legal gaming in the state.

So while for the most part you still won't be able to buy beer and wine in a single super store, you likely will be able to gamble legally in your neighborhood tavern.

Wednesday night the Senate signed off on the latest version of a funding fix for the Pennsylvania budget, something that has eluded them now since July 1, when they met the state-mandated deadline to have a new spending plan in place. The only problem is that they could not agree on how to fund it, in particular a $2 billion gap between spending and revenue. You know, just like what happens when you pay your household bills every month.

Here's what the latest funding package does not include - a severance tax on the state's natural gas drillers. This despite a push earlier by Delco Sen. Tom McGarrigle, R-26, and others to enact the state's first-ever severance tax.

Here's what's in: More gambling. More borrowing. Fantasy sports betting. Online access to both casino and lottery games. Video gaming terminals in truck stops, airports and online portals. As many as 10 new mini-casino locations around the state.

There will be a new tax on fireworks and expansion of the state sales tax to cover more goods and also online purchases.

But local tavern owners who have been pushing for video gaming terminals are out of luck. They're not included in the package. The Senate vote was 31-19. But talks got snagged in the House, which is expected to debate the package again today.

One vocal critic of the plan, Rep. Scott Petri, R-Bucks, who happens to be chair of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, warned of an "explosion of gambling in Pennsylvania like you've never seen before."

The plan also calls for borrowing $1.5 billion from the state's tobacco settlement fund.

All of these things would get us by for this year. And maybe next year as well. But it falls far short of the recurring revenue Gov. Tom Wolf has said is needed to fix the state's recurring fiscal woes. That's why he has consistently backed the severance tax, a move supported by Delaware County Republicans.

For a full listing of what's in the funding plan, CLICK HERE. The debate continues this morning: We'll let you know how it goes.

A good idea in Upper Darby

Being a cop is a tough job.

And it gets tougher every day.

That's why a training program that was held for some officers in Upper Darby last week was so important.

It's a program called RITE. That stands for Racial Intelligence Training and Engagement.

Basically, it suggests officers look inward, at their own emotions, before they tackle what are very often volatile interactions with the public.

We think it's good advice.

And not just for cops.

It's something we all should do.

You can read our editorial here.

The latest Sixers saga

The Sixers front office should get down on their knees ever day and thank God - for the Eagles.

The Birds' sizzling 6-1 start is taking the spotlight off what was supposed to be a very special Sixers season - and is quickly turning into a first-class debacle.

Or maybe we should refer to it as a first-round pick fiasco.

Yes, the Sixers are having injury issues with another first-round pick.

All of this came to a head yesterday in a thoroughly miserable day for the team - and their long-suffering fans.

Much of the day's drama surrounded first-round pick Markelle Fultz and his aching shoulder.

The team, the coach, Fultz's agent and his trainer all weighed in. Unfortunately, they were not exactly on the same page.

What we know is that Fultz will miss the next three games because of pain in his shoulder.

That seems to be about the only thing all sides agree on.

Did Fultz hurt his shoulder when he changed his shot last summer to make it more effective? Or to ease the pain? That depends on who you talk to.

Check out Jack McCaffery's column for his take on the latest Sixers saga. Then, for the coup de grace, the Sixers went out and blew a game in front of the home fans in which they led by seven with a little more than a minute left. You can get those details here. Hey, how about those Iggles!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Not a banner day for region's Dems

Ask most people in Delaware County who their congressman is and you will likely get a quick answer: Pat Meehan.

It's true. The 7th District does cover most of the county, along with snippets of Chester, Montgomery, Berks and Lancaster counties. You can blame the wonders of gerrymandering for that, but that's another story.

The truth is Meehan represents most of Delaware County - but not all of it.v Many people along the eastern part of the county, and along the Delaware River as it snakes south - including the city of Chester - live in the 1st Congressional District and are represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Bob Brady.

Yesterday was not a good day for Brady, the head of the Philadelphia Democratic Party and one of the region's most powerful Dems.

Two political consultants who worked for him were charged by the feds in connection with a $90,000 payment labeled as a campaign donation but which the feds maintain was really meant to get the candidate to drop out of the race.

Former Philadelphia Judge Jimmie Moore did just that, giving up his challenge to Brady in the Democratic Primary.

Donald Jones and Ken Smukler, one of the most familiar names in political consulting in the region, were charged in the case.

Brady was not, and has denied any wrongdoing.

Federal law imposes a $2,000 limit on contributions from one campaign to another. That would mean there would be problems with a $90,000 donation. The feds say the payment, meant to allow Moore to pay off his campaign debt, constitutes an unlawful campaign contribution.

The indictment claims Smukler and Jones funneled the money to Moore by routing the money through their consulting companies.

They are charged with violations of campaign finance and reporting laws as well as conspiracy. Jones also is charged with lying to the FBI.

It wasn't a good day for the region's Democrats.

Consider the case of former Philly District Attorney Seth Williams.

He was back in court to be sentenced after entering a guilty plea to a single count of bribery, as federal prosecutors laid out an ugly pattern of the city's top lawman lining his pockets with gifts, Eagles tickets, exotics trips and a lavish lifestyle all for access to Williams and his help in helping them in their business pursuits.

Since entering the plea, Williams has been jailed, held in an 8x10 prison cell.

He's already been fined $62,000 by the city's ethics board and been disbarred by the state.

Things didn't get a lot better in court yesterday.

U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond unloaded on Williams, sentencing him to five years in jail and summarily rejecting a plea from Williams that he be released for a few weeks to visit his dying mother. Yes, that would be the same mother prosecutors say Williams stole from during his glory days as the city's D.A.

Diamond blasted Williams for "feeding his face" at the public trough. He upbraided Williams: "Almost from the time you took office, you sold yourself to the parasites you surrounded yourself with," Diamond lambasted the former D.A.

Like we said, not a great day for the region's Democrats.

Thrill of victory, agony of injuries

Call it the thrill of victory - and the agony of the feet ... er, knee, and ankle.

The Eagles stand atop the NFL after their convincing 34-24 win over NFC East rival Washington in front of a national Monday Night Football TV audience.

For the second straight week, they are the top-ranked team in the Associated Press Pro32 NFL Poll.

But that big win Monday night came with a high cost.

The Eagles have lost two crucial players - one on the offense and one on the defense.

All-Pro left offensive tackle Jason Peters will be lost for the season after tearing both the ACL and MCL in his right knee when it got rolled up on during a play Monday night. Funny thing about the knee. It is meant to forward and backward, not necessarily to the side, especially when you weight 350 pounds and another 300-pounder collapses the knee from the side.

The Birds also will be without middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, who apparently blew up an Achilles tendon when he caught his foot in the Linc turf.

It continues a nasty streak of injuries that has already cost the team the services of running back Darren Sproles, key corner Ronald Darby and special teams ace Chris Maragos.

All of this has been eclipsed by the spectacular play of quarterback Carson Wentz.

The second-year QB has put the team on his back.

That will be even more so now.

Columnist Jack McCaffery shines a spotlight on just how good Wentz has been.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Great Escape: Wentz sparkles on national stage

They lost linebacker Mychal Kendricks before the game. Didn't matter.

That was compounded early when Jordan Hicks hobbled off the field with an injury that could end his season. No sweat. Next man up, you know. They lost maybe their best player, right offensive tackle Jason Peters, with a knee injury.

They survived a horrendous start, including a wave of penalty flags that saw them marching backward on their first possession of the game. None of that mattered.

Because Carson Wentz is that good.

And his teammates are starting to think they might be as well.

Wentz, who was under siege most of the night, combined 'North Dakota tough' and a Houdini-like escapability to once again dazzle. He went onto a national stage on Monday Night Football and basked in the limelight.

He pulled off a play that will now reside beside a similar piece of QB lore pulled off by Randall Cunningham, also on a Monday night game, in which he appeared to be in the grasp of several Redskins defenders early in the fourth quarter, only to someone escape, pick up a first down, and lead the Birds to another touchdown.

The bottom line? Wentz and the Eagles are 6-1 and can rightfully lay claim - at least for now - to being the best team in the NFL. Wentz went 17 of 25 for 268 and four TDs.

But that does not come close to describing what Wentz did.

Everything with the Eagles begins and ends with him. He's that good.

Injuries don't bother this team, because they have confidence that Wentz will find a way for them to win.

After one of the ugliest first quarters in recent memory, you look up and realize this team is only down three points.

They went into halftime with a 17-10 lead.

They saw one key player after another either hobble off or be loaded into a cart.

Doesn't matter.

Not so long as No. 11 is lined up behind center, coolly dissecting the defense the way you would expect a veteran NFL QB to take control, not some kid from North Dakota State in his second season in the NFL.

The Eagles just might be that good.

Carson Wentz already is.

Teach your children well, indeed

Brace yourself.

We want to talk about race again.

No less than three school districts are grappling with ugly racial incidents.

Several communities in Montgomery County are trying to figure out why someone sent hate mail pieces to their addresses. Making it even worse is the fact that the mailings seemed personal, indicating whoever sent these items knew something about these residents.

Make no mistake.

These incidents did not take place in a vacuum. This is what happens when people try to normalize hate.

It's what happens in the wake of white nationalists marching through the streets of Charlottesville, Va., carrying tiki torches and openly espousing hateful rhetoric dripping with racial invective.

This is no longer hidden. The robes and hoods are off. This is in-your-face racism.

It's what happens when partisan politics veers of course, normalizing what was once thought to be unthinkable.

Our children are watching. And learning.

Turns out Crosby, Stills &^ Nash were right.

Teach your children well.

You can read our editorial here.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Another tough weekend in Chester

On Friday I talked about the pitch made by county and city officials to lure retail giant Amazon to the Chester waterfront. It of course would be a huge boost to the region's economy.

It's the kind of shot in the arm that could raise the city out of its current seemingly chronic fiscal woes.

But one of the things I mentioned in the post is that first Chester need to get the upper hand on the random gun violence that continues to plague too many neighborhoods in the city.

The gunfire did not stop this weekend.

City police report that since Friday afternoon, there were five shooting incidents in Chester, with a total of 8 victims. Thankfully, at this point none of the injuries appears to be life-threatening.

The incident include a report of two persons opening fire on a crowded city basketball court from a bridge above.

Before it can talk about the latest attempt to add major attractions to its waterfront, the city must tackle the violence that too many of its citizens deal with on a seemingly daily basis.

Monday night matchup for Eagles

Are you ready for some football?

Raise your hand if you did something unusual yesterday. If you were like me you sat outside all afternoon on about as glorious, warm fall day as you can imagine.

That is opposed to our usual fall Sunday haunt - sitting for four hours in front of the TV watching the Eagles.

The Birds are back on prime time tonight with a Monday night NFC East matchup with the Redskins.

Doug Pederson and the Eagles are sporting the best record in the NFL.

I don't see that changing tonight.

You can check out my prediction in The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick here.

Tough way to start the week

After a spectacular fall weekend, there is going to be a little payback this morning.

First, you will note that we have a bit of fog out there this morning.

Second, if you usually use West Chester Pike in the Havertown area, you're going to have a serious problem this morning. There was a tractor-trailer crash about 4 a.m. that has shut down West Chester Pike between Manoa Road and Sycamore.

The big rig took out a pole and power lines and also caught fire.

The driver managed to escape the wreckage.

There is no word on any other injuries.

Tough way to start the week.

You can get the full traffic report for the region to kick off your week here.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

Is it just me or does it seem like it's been about a month since the Eagles played?

That's what happens when you hit the national limelight on a Thursday night matchup. A lot has happened since the Birds' most impressive win in the last couple of years as they tamed Cam Newton and the Panthers in front of a national audience.

People noticed. The Birds vaulted to the top of the Associated Press Power 32 NFL Rankings. That's right, we're No. 1.

Then Andy Reid and the Chiefs coughed up a fourth quarter lead Thursday night against the Raiders. That means the Eagles, at 5-1, sport the best record in the NFL.

The Birds won't hit the field again until Monday night, when they are back on national TV for a Monday night NFC East clash against the Redskins at the Linc.

Doug Pederson and the Eagles knocked off the Redskins on opening day, 30-17. Since then Kirk Cousins and Washington have rebounded to post a 3-2 mark.

This game should come down to Cousins vs. the Eagles defense. If Fletcher Cox and pals can harass Cousins into making mistakes - read turnovers - they should prevail, especially in front of what will no doubt be a raucous home crowd.

Of offense, right tackle Lane Johnson will be back after missing the last game with a concussion. That's a good thing. Because it will be his job to neutralize Redskins' tackle Ryan Kerrigan, who usually makes life miserable for Eagles QBs. On opening day he picked off a batted Carson Wentz pass and took it to the house for a Pick-Six. He also is usually in Wentz's face with a constant package of blitzes. Once again, it will be interesting to see if Pederson will stick to his new balanced offense, feeding LeGarrette Blount. On opening day, Wentz again dropped back to pass way too many times.

THE PICK: Make it Eagles 31, Redskins 19. Look for Carson Wentz to dazzle again, using his escapability to improvise and make big plays. I know this is going to sound bizarre, but I also like the idea of Doug Pederson now having some extra time to prepare for a game. Look for a very innovative game plan from the Birds' head man.

LAST WEEK: One week after a dominating performance against the Cardinals, the Eagles went on the road on a short week and took down Cam Newton and the Panthers. Easily the most impressive win of the Doug Pederson Era. The victory put the Birds among the NFL's elite with a 5-1 mark. I misfired again and now have fallen a game behind the Birds at 4-2.

GAME BY GAME: Chiefs 27, Eagles 20. (My Pick: Chiefs 33, Eagles 17)

Eagles 30, Redskins 17. (My Pick: Eagles 26, Redskins 13)

Eagles 27, Giants 24. (My Pick: Eagles 23, Giants 17)

Eagles 26, Chargers 24. (My Pick: Chargers 27, Eagles 17)

Eagles 34, Cardinals 7. (My Pick: Eagles 29, Cardinals 24)

Eagles 28, Panthers 23. (My Pick: Panthers 26, Eagles 17)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Amazon on Chester waterfront? Don't bet on it

Do I think that Amazon, the world's biggest online retailer, is going to set up shop with its much-ballyhooed second world headquarters, on the Chester waterfront.

Probably not.

Do I wish they would? Sure.

One of the things Jeff Bezos has stressed in his push to create what the Amazon folks are calling HQ2 is the ability to improve the quality of life in an area.

If that's the case, Chester should shoot to the top of the list.

We're talking about a multi-billion dollar economic shot in the arm, and the addition of 50,000 new jobs.

Think that would do something about helping the quality of life in Chester?

Something else struck me as a gaggle of city and county officials gathered in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge as Delco made its pitch to lure Amazon.

Haven't we been here before.

The group was standing outside Talen Energy Stadium. That's where the Union plays their Major League Soccer games. It wasn't always called that. When it was first built, it was called PPL Park.

It's a beautiful facility, but it was not supposed to be sitting there alone under the Barry Bridge.

Remember? Originally, the stadium was supposed to be part of a similarly impressive multi-million dollar development. The developers Buccini & Pollin, who had done wonders for the Baltimore waterfront, were promising to do the same in Chester.

They envisioned a mix of residential, retail and entertainment outlets. Upscale townhouses on the waterfront. Even a convention center was tossed into the mix.

They got the county to kick in a big chunk of public money.

The stadium got the OK.

Then the economy went off a cliff back in 2008.

Not much has happened since.

The stadium is still there. Down the road in one direction is Harrrah's casino. In the other direction is the Wharf at Rivertown and the restored old PECO Power Station.

The Union has built a training complex.

Townhouses? Uh, no.

Retail outlets? Not yet.

Convention center? Don't hold your breath.

Officials maintain that the plan is still in place and could still happen.

Yeah, right after Amazon sets up shop.

Why Chris Long is on today's editorial page

The NFL is making all kinds of headlines - many of them for things that have nothing to do with what goes on between the lines.

You know, the actual games.

Today on our editorial page, we focus on another off-the-field incident.

No, it's not what you think.

Today we salute Eagles defensive end Chris Long.

What is he doing to merit a spot on our editorial page?

He's donating the rest of his salary for this season to a fund he set up to increase educational opportunities for underserved kids who might otherwise not get that opportunity.

Forget what happens on the field.

Long is a winner in our book.

You can read the editorial here.

The best team in the NFL; Utley heads back to Series

Two quick notes this morning for Philly sports fans.

Congratulations! You're a fan of the team with the best record in the NFL.

That's right. The Eagles are 5-1, and that puts them on top of the heap, after the Chiefs lost a game in classic Andy Reid fashion last night in another prime time performance. This one had Andy's familiar clock management skills written all over it. That and some bizarre penalties led to one of the wildest endings in recent memory.

You can get all those details here

And our old pal Chase Utley is going back to the World Series.

The Dodgers hammed the Cubs in Wrigley last night to seal the deal. They will now face either the Yankees or Astros.

Utley has been struggling mightily of late, but it will still be good to see him get back to the fall classic.

Read about the Dodgers' big win here.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Delco to Amazon: We're Prime!

Now the waiting begins.

Delaware County yesterday threw its hat into the Amazon Derby, hoping to lure the online world biggest retailer to the Chester waterfront.

They have lots of company.

Philadelphia also is hoping to convince the Seattle firm to bring its much-ballyhooed HQ2 to Philly.

The Delco pitch involves the land surrounding Talen Energy Field in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge on the Delaware River.

They also are making the old Community Hospital site available.

And if that's not enough, they have a backup plan, the much talked-about former Franklin Mint site out on Baltimore Pike in Middletown.

There is a lot at stake, a multi-billion dollar economic boom and as many as 50,000 new jobs.

There's plenty of time to debate where Amazon will wind up. The company is not expected to announce its decision until sometime in 2018.

You can read all the details on the Delco pitch for Chester here.

Another reason why the war on opioids is so tough

The opioid battle is not going away.

Not any time soon.

That's why they packed a meeting Monday night in Upper Darby. They wanted to know what they can do to fight the heroin-opioid crisis that is ravaging our towns.

The next night, they were doing the same thing.

Don't fool yourself.

This problem is not limited by geography. It is happening in Upper Darby. And on the Main Line. And in every other Delco town. That is why what happened this week in Washington is absolutely mind-boggling.

What happened?

You can read about it on our editorial page.

27 minutes

27.

That's the most important number to come out of last night's Sixers' season opener.

Not that they lost 120-15 to the Wizards.

Not that Ben Simmons sparkled, scoring 18 points with 10 rebounds.

Not that Robert Covington had 29 points.

So what is the 27?

That's the number of minutes logged by center Joel Embiid.

It tells you that the tanking is over.

The Sixers actually are going to try to win games this year.

The team announced earlier that Embiid would start the season again on a minutes restriction, that he likely would play only 14 minutes. But he blew by that in the first half, and he was on the court with the game on the line in the final five minutes.

That tells you all you need to know about the change in attitude for the Sixers this year.

But it was not the best sports story in the region yesterday.

For that, you had to go to the Eagles.

But it had nothing to do with a game. And everything to do with life.

Chris Long, the defensive end who the Eagles signed as a free agent this year, announced he would donate his entire season of game checks to a fund being set up to push educational equality.

Long had already decided to donate his first six game checks in the wake of the controversy surrounding a white nationalist march in the town where he went to school at the University of Virginia.

You can get all the details here.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Delco jumps into the Amazon Derby

Amazon is about to jump into the great Amazon derby.

No, they're not taking some exotic jungle expedition.

They're looking to reel in one of the biggest economic projects in the region's history.

Amazon is the online retailing goliath created by multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos.

They're looking to build a second headquarters to go along with their Seattle home base.

Philadelphia and Delaware are already all in looking to lure a huge economic project that means thousands of new jobs.

Today it's Delaware County's turn.

Delaware County Council plans to hold an afternoon press conference to make their pitch for Amazon HQ2.

And where do they believe Amazon should set up shop?

Think Chester waterfront.

They are holding the presser in the parking lot of Talen Energy Stadium, where the Union play their MSL home games, in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge.

On hand will be members of Delaware County Council, county Commerce Director Patrick Killian, Chamber of Commerce President Trish McFarland, Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland and other local and state elected officials, along with several local labor leaders.

Of course, county Democrats could not resist pointing out that they urged Amazon to select Delco with a pitch of their own back on Sept. 11.

We'll be there for the presser.

A new argument in the claim that we have a political bias

When it comes to politics, I'm pretty much used to taking heat from both sides.

So long as both sides are complaining, I figure I have it just about right.

This year Republicans and GOP loyalists believe we are being terribly unfair to incumbent County Councilman Dave White for reporting the attacks being made by Democrats.

Democrats insist we remain in the pocket of the Delco GOP by allowing Republicans to condemn their attacks.

But I have to admit I have never gotten a complaint quite like the one I fielded last weekend.

Once again I was taken to task, accused of playing favorites.

And once again the belief was that we were tilting to the Republicans.

But it was how we supposedly did it that fascinates me.

Last weekend we presented profiles of all the candidates seeking county office. That would be the two Democrats and two Republicans battling for two seats on County Council, as well as the row offices - Common Please Court Judge, Register of Wills, and Sheriff.

We also ran the first of two parts of listings featuring all the contested municipal, school board and magisterial district judge races that will appear on the county ballot.

We'll run the second batch of that group this coming Sunday.

But it was out profiles for the county races that drew the ire of one political insider and reader.

Actually, it wasn't anything about the profiles themselves.

But rather how we lined them up and when we presented them.

We ran the Republican candidate profiles Sunday, and followed up with the Democrats on Monday.

That is was set the reader off.

The person emailed me to suggest we set them up that way on purpose, apparently to boost the Republicans.

They indicated they were "surprised" to see the Republican candidates Sunday, with nothing about the Democratic candidates. This despite the fact we clearly noted that the Democrats would run the following day, Monday.

The reader suggested we did that on purpose because "more people read the Sunday edition than any other day."

The reader suggested that the "least read" edition is Saturday, followed by Monday, thus we did the Democrats a disservice by running their profiles on Monday.

The truth is there is not much difference anymore on our daily circulation numbers. If we had in fact run the Democrats on Saturday, I might have seen the reader's point. But not on Monday. The truth is all this information appears on our web site as well, and still does.

The reader actually suggested a novel way to fix what she considered this slight to Democrats.

"The only fair resolution is to run the Democratic profiles again this Sunday and the Republicans again on Monday."

Uh, I don't think that's going to happen.

I do appreciate your concern. But I don't agree that we were trying to stack the deck against the Dems.

Just ask Dave White.

Saluting 100 years of parochial education at BVM

Here's everything you need to know about the "little school that could."

That would be Blessed Virgin Mary School in Darby Borough. Or, as almost everyone refers to it, simply 'BVM.'

When they opened the doors to the school back in 1917, 195 students were enrolled. Today, despite all the problems parochial schools have encountered in eastern Delaware County, the school boasts an enrollment of 185.

That's called staying power.

They held a celebration at the parish Sunday to take note of 100 years of Catholic education.

We salute BVM on today's editorial page. You can read it here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A salute to BVM in Darby Borough

It is an oasis on MacDade Boulevard.

And it has been now for a century.

The faithful gathered Sunday to mark 100 years of education at Blessed Virgin Mary School in Darby Borough.

Or, as nearly everyone refers to it, simply BVM.

It is there that hundreds returned to the church and school to relive their childhood memories - and to reaffirm the very important work that is done there every day.

BVM, like much of eastern Delaware County, has seized on that notion of America as melting pot. In those pews - and in the desks of the little school - are faces and names that put meaning to that promise.

They are white, brown and everything in between.

They come from far-flung corners of the globe.

At BVM, they become one.

Americans.

We featured the little school - and the parish of the same name - on the front of Monday's paper.

They held a celebration of the school's centennial Sunday with a special Mass. The place was packed.

You can read about it here.

BVM would not be possible without the dedicated work of a devoted pastor, the Rev. Joe Corley, and Principal Sister Virginia Paschall.

Here's to you, BVM.

Cracker Barrel will open in Ridley Nov. 13

Forget what you see on the front page of today's Daily Times.

Yes, I know I have harped for years about that tiny square of real estate - and what's on it - as being some of the most valuable real estate in the county.

I have often said that the decision I make each day about what appears as our lead story continues to be the most important thing I do each day.

But there is something that is not on today's front page that I am willing to bet will be one of the most talked-about stories in the county today, especially if you go anywhere near social media.

You might want to sit down for this one - and tie on a bib.

They have set the opening date for the new Cracker Barrel - the first one in Delco - that is going to open up in down on Stewart Avenue in Ridley Township.

The long-awaited new eatery will throw open the doors Monday, Nov. 13.

You can read about the insanely popular restaurant here.

There's no truth to the rumor that people are already standing in line.

I least I don't think so.

Fall-ing into a cold fact: Summer's over

I make a pact with myself every fall.

It's my way of clinging to summer, even as I now drive home in the dark each night.

I make a promise to myself that I will not don a coat until Thanksgiving.

Yes, that made for a chilly start this morning.

Brace yourself.

It's not chilly out, at least not to me. It's cold.

Hey, it could have been worse. At least there was only a hint of frost on the windshield this morning. But the second my bottom hit that seat in the car, I knew summer was over.

I may be crazy, but I'm not a fool. I opted against the coat, but I did crank up the heat in the car.

Technology is a two-edged sword. For the most part, I disdain all this technology we swim in.

And so I was less than thrilled as I pulled out of the drive way by that little 'dinging' sound emanating from the dashboard that also flashes the warning light that there could be slick patches on the road. That happens when the temperatures hits 39 degrees.

38!!!!

Where's my coat?

Monday, October 16, 2017

What Chester Makes

Chester was back on the front page of the newspaper in the last couple of days.

Last Friday we took note of an especially violent 24-hour stretch in the city. Police were investigating three separate shooting incidents, one of which police described as a shootout between two men. Both lost their lives.

A victim from one of the other two shooting incidents died the following day. It brought the city's homicide total to 27 for the year. That equals the 27 recorded in the city all of all of last year.

But it's the Sunday story - which dominated the front page - that I want to bring to your attention.

In that story we detailed one of the city's most famous sayings: What Chester Makes Makes Chester.

That saying hung on the old Philadelphia Electric Co. building at Sixth and Crosby streets for nearly half a century. It came down in the 1970s. Not everyone has forgotten, however.

On Saturday city residents gathered for a special presentation celebrating the city's heritage, and its roots as an industrial icon. You can read the story here.

It's easy to take shots at Chester these days.

We get accused of doing it all the time.

Yes, we pay attention to the problem of crime and random gun violence that continues to afflict the city. But we don't ignore the other - positive - stories either.

A lot of people are working hard to return Chester to its grand past. There is a vibrant arts community that is revitalizing center city. We take note of all these stories.

Not because we feel compelled to counterbalance the negative news that comes out of the city.

But because it's the right thing to do.

There was a time when "What Chester Makes Makes Chester" was a way of life.

A lot of people have not forgotten.

Neither have we.

The problem with 'fake news'

It's amazing what a nice guy I am anytime I run something people like or agree with.

At those times I'm lauded as a journalist.

But run something negative, in particular something people don't necessarily agree with, and all of a sudden I'm fake news. This just in - I run both kinds of stories.

And just because you don't happen to agree with a story, or don't particularly care for it, doesn't make it "fake news." This is now part of the media sea I swim in every day.

Of course this is the trickle-down from President Trump's war with the media and his penchant for blasting anything he disagrees with or paints him in a negative light as "fake news."

Let me be clear. That does not mean we don't get things wrong once in awhile.

We have a clear process for that and are careful to correct the misinformation.

But even something that is incorrect is not the same thing as being "fake."

If you don't think that President Trump's battle with the media and his perception of "fake news" is not having an effect on local journalism, I suggest maybe you come in and answer my phone for a couple of hours.

Or you could just check out my Facebook page or Twitter posts.

That's where I'm routinely vilified for peddling "fake news."

It's not part of the media landscape.

It's a dangerous thing, but I don't think people realize just how dangerous.

I talk about it in today's print column, my Monday Letter From the Editor."

A Sunday without the 5-1 Eagles

There is something oddly therapeutic about a fall Sunday without the Eagles.

Thanks to that eye-opening win over the Carolina Panthers Thursday night, Eagles fans were looking at a rare Birds-free weekend.

For one thing, it reminds you of all the things you could be doing every Sunday instead of sitting in front of the TV.

Luckily, yesterday was cloudy and damp, so it provided the perfect time to just sit around, read, watch some TV, and breathe in all those things that you miss out on most Sundays when you are instead glued to the TV.

It also doesn't hurt as you check out some other games to realize that the Eagles are now tied for the best record in the NFL.

That's right, thanks for losses by our old pal Andy Reid and the Chiefs, who fell to the Steelers, and a stunning loss by the Broncos last night to the previously winless Giants, the Eagles now are tied at the top of the NFL heap with a 5-1 mark. That puts them neck and neck with the Chiefs.

I liked everything about yesterday so much I just might repeat it next week.

I'm already looking forward to another lazy Sunday.

Of course, that also is because the Eagles don't play until Monday night.

Yeah, some habits are harder to break than others.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The 5-1 Eagles stake their claim to be among NFL's best

Usually, it is the loser's lament.

The refs cost us the game.

Not last night.

Against all odds - including Pete Morelli's officiating crew - the Eagles went into Carolina last night and beat Cam Newton and the Panthers, 28-23.

The Eagles are 5-1, sitting atop the NFC East and rightfully staking a claim to being one of the best teams in the NFL.

They played without their crucial cog, right guard Lane Johnson. And it showed early as backup Halapoulivaati Vaitai struggled early, giving up a key sack to Julius Peppers that led to a Carson Wentz fumble. But Vaitai settled down and played well in the second half.

It is this mantra of "next man up" that has become the calling card of this team. And it just happens to be the trait of good teams. And make no mistake, Doug Pederson's club is a very good team.

Starting middle linebacker Jordan Hicks went down with a turned ankle in the first half. No problem. Joe Woods stepped up and filled the bill.

Carson Wentz was money again, throwing three more TD passes and showing he is quickly becoming one of the elite signal callers in the NFL, far beyond what is usually expected of second-year players. Wentz's ability to come to the line of scrimmage and quickly dissect a defense - including switching out of a play when he sees something he can exploit - is the mark of a savvy veteran like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.

The Eagles faced the uphill challenge of a short week and traveling to Carolina.

But it wasn't just the Panthers that seemed to be providing the opposition.

They had to deal with Pete Morelli's officiating crew.

The trend showed up early, a bunch of ticky-tack calls, in particular on the Eagles defense. There was an unnecessary roughness call on running back LeGarrette Blount for what appeared to be routine blocking. That was followed a few minutes later by no call when Blount was thrown to the ground by a Panther clearly after the whistle.

The Eagles were called for 10 penalties for 126 yards; the Panthers just one infraction for 1 yard.

Sound lopsided? Actually, it continued a trend.

In the last four Eagles games done by Morelli's crew - all on the road - the Birds have been flagged 40 times for 396 yards, while the home team has been hit just eight times for 74 yards.

And none of it matters at this point.

What matters is this: The Eagles are 5-1, staking a claim to be among the NFL's elite.

The only downside: We now have to wait more than a week for the Birds to get back on the field, a Monday night matchup vs. the Redskins.

Can't wait.

No tax hike for Delco - for 4th straight year

Delaware County Council has a pre-holiday - and pre-election - present for county residents.

Taxes will not be going up next year.

That makes four straight years without a tax hike.

As you might expect, with two seats on County Council up for grabs on the Nov. 7 ballot, news of a fourth straight year with increasing taxes is viewed differently according to your political persuasion.

Dave White, the Republican incumbent who is running for another term along with John Perfetti, said "Delaware County is on the move," touting growth in the county that has resulted in 25,000 new jobs and 500 new business startups.

The Democratic challengers, Kevin Madden and Brian Zidek, are less impressed.

Click here for the full story.

More violence on the streets of Chester

It has not been a good week on the streets of Chester.

Police are investigating the latest wave of violence on city streets.

In a 24-hour period, two men were killed and two others wounded in three separate shooting incidents.

You can get all the details here.

The two fatal shootings brings the city's homicide total to 26 for the year. There were only 27 all of last year. There have been 33 homicides in the county.

The city has boosted a reward fund for information on gun violence in the city, beefed up the number of officers on patrol and added state police to try to quell the violence on city streets.

Nothing has worked.

Police Chief James Nolan feels the frustration, both from residents and his own police force.

"What we can't correct is the lack of concern for human life," Nolan told a local TV station.

So what is the answer for the city.

It's one residents and officials need to address now, before the next round of gunfire breaks out.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick (Thursday Edition)

How about that Joel Embiid!

Oops, wrong sport.

But it's telling that on a day when the 4-1 Eagles are rolling into a prime-time matchup against another 4-1 team, Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, Philly remains abuzz about Embiid's series debut last night against the Nets on on Long Island.

If he stays healthy, the Eagles just might have serious competition atop the Philly sports talk topics.

But on to the matter at hand.

I was on the money last week, thinking the Eagles would handle a struggling Cardinals team that had to fly across the country.

Now it's the Eagles turn to hit the orad, and on a short practice week to play on a Thursday night.

That does not bode well for them.

I don't like this short week and trip to Carolina even a little bit.

Making matters worse, the Eagles will find themselves without right guard Lane Johnson, who just might be the key to their offensive success.

Remember last year when the Birds sprinted out to a 3-0 record? Then they lost Johnson to a 10-game suspension and their season went off a cliff.

So far head coach Doug Pederson has pushed all the right buttons this season. He'll need another gem tonight, devising a way to control the ball on the ground, protecting QB Carson Wentz in front of that line that will be without its star right tackle, and maybe most importantly keeping Panthers QB Cam Newton on the sidelines.

On defense, it appears the Birds might get their All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox back, though it will technically be a game-time decision.

The Eagles have been on a run, with Pederson pushing all the right buttons. A win tonight on the national stage in front of a prime-time audience would put them among the elite of the NFL.

One other thing to note. This is an important game for Carson Wentz. The Eagles second-year QB is slowly starting to build a lot of buzz for his success in leading the Eagles. Tonight everyone will be tuning in to see a prime-time matchup of elite young QBs. Wentz vs. Newtown. It's a very important game for Carson.

I'll be rooting for a win, but my heart tells me Newton and the Panthers come out on top.

THE PICK: Make it Panthers 26, Eagles 17. Look for Carson Wentz and the Birds offense to sputter without key cog Lane Johnson. That means lots of time on the field for Cam Newton, and that will spell big problems for the Eagles defense.

LAST WEEK: Maybe the most impressive poerformance of the Doug Pederson Era. The Birds simply dominated the Cardinals in every facet of the game, racing out to a 21-0 bulge in the first quarter, with Wentz tossing TD passes on the team's first three possessions. The win lifted the Eagles to a 4-1 record, alone atop the NFC East. I had them winning as well, so I now sport an identicial 4-1 mark. This might be one of the tougher tasks of the season. A win could be a defining moment for Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz. A loss won't be the end of the world.

GAME BY GAME: Chiefs 27, Eagles 20. (My Pick: Chiefs 33, Eagles 17)

Eagles 30, Redskins 17. (My Pick: Eagles 26, Redskins 13)

Eagles 27, Giants 24. (My Pick: Eagles 23, Giants 17)

Eagles 26, Chargers 24. (My Pick: Chargers 27, Eagles 17)

Eagles 34, Cardinals 7. (My Pick: Eagles 29, Cardinals 24)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I am 'Fake News'

I am Fake News.

Or so my critics would have you believe.

This is what it's like working in the social drenched atmosphere of journalism these days.

Yesterday we posted on our website a story on the Temple student who was fatally shot after an altercation with police in Miami.

AP puts a headline on its stories that very often gets copied over when the story isposted on DelcoTimes.com.

This is what the headline on the story said:

Temple University student killed by police after car crashes.

Technically, it's accurate. But after reviewing the story it's pretty clear there was a lot more going on here than that headline portrays. The woman, Cariann Hithon, of Bowie, Md., had crashed her car into several cars along Miami's famous South Beach area. Hithon apparently was in South Florida to celebrate her 22nd birthday. When a crowd gathered around the car, it took off again, striking a police officer. That's when another officer fired three shots into the car.

The entire incident is now under invetigation.

When the story got posted to our DelcoTimes Facebook page, the reaction was immediate - and harsh.

But it was the tone of many of the comments that struck me.

It did not take long for several people to accuse us of practicing "fake news."

Yes, this is what it is like working in journalism today.

Every person with a phone or tablet is a publisher.

That is now part and parcel of what we do. And I have no problem with that. I say the more the merrier.

But if you think that President Trump's insistence on anything that does not portray him in a positive light is "fake news" does not trickle down to your local newspaper, I am here to tell you different.

Let's get this straight.

That initial report was not "fake news."

Was the headline not nearly as accurate as it should have been?

You bet.

That's why I changed it.

You read it right.

As it turns out, I was not in the office yesterday.

But being the glutton for punishment that I am, I still manage email and check our social media accounts.

When I saw that the story on the Temple student was blowing up on our Facebook page, I reviewed the story - and the headline.

I changed it - and I posted a note on the Facebook page.

That did not stop the torrent of negative comments, all with the same tenet: We shape the news to fit our liberal agenda. We purposely crafted that headline to emphasize the actions of police in using deadly force, instead of the actions of the woman that precipitated the incident. We are looking as we always do to foment racial strife. We are anti-police.

"Please stop writing misleading headlines."

"Slanted and misleading headlines are just one of the multitude of reasons no one buys your paper anymore." In short, we are practicing "fake news."

I noticed something else in the stream of invective aimed at the newspaper. People took us to task for not summarizing all the facts of the case, but had no issue with jumping to conclusions as to what was happening on that Miami street. The fact is we don't know - and may never know why that woman did what she did.

"Temple student runs over officer," is how one reader believes the story should have been headlined. I suppose that is accurate as well.

"Not your twisted words of hate. All you are doing is causing more hate towards our police officers."

"Daily Times trying to be like the big anti-police papers and put out headlines that make cops the bad guys."

Funny, I thought we have been going out of our way the past few years to do stories that put cops in a positive light.

I consistently offer them support with our Saturday "Laurels" as well as on our editorial page.

Doesn't matter.

We're anti-police.

And "Fake News." There's a big difference between a story you don't like, or even one you don't agree with, and "fake news."

I don't practice fake news.

That headline was not as accurate as it should have been. I corrected it.

Didn't seem to change many people's minds.

It's all fake news to them.

Thanks, President Trump.

Another view on gun control

Funny thing about opinions.

They are kind of like something else you might have heard about: We all have one.

Actually we probably have several.

I have one.

But notice how I phrased that. I have one. Not the only one.

I have made my position on gun control pretty clear.

I don't harbor for a minute that we are ever going to radically alter Second Amendment rights. Nor do I necessarily think we should.

I have, however, on many occasions, wondered why a person would need a semiautomatic weapon.

A quick glance at social media will show you that is not an especially popular opinion.

But I am always willing to entertain other opinions, despite the critics who insist that I shape the news to fit my own personal - liberal - agenda.

Today columnist Chris Freind steps up to the plate to talk about gun control.

Chris believes - as many do - that a band on some weapons will not stop mass shooting incidents.

I'm glad he weighed in.

That's the whole idea. It's supposed to be a community of ideas.

You can read Chris' here.

Why do athletes make this kind of money? Because they can

I long ago stopped complaining about athletes and the money they make.

This struck me again yesterday as I tried to get my hands around the notion of the Sixers offering center Joel Embiid a max five-year deal worth an estimated $148 million.

This for a guy who has played parts of 31 games.

He missed his first two seasons for injuries.

Last year's rookie season was cut short by knee surgery.

When he did play, he was on minutes restrictions and did not play on back-to-back nights.

He is expected to be in the lineup for the first time in the preseason tonight when the Sixers play the Nets on Long Island. Sorry, the game won't be on TV.

Yes, it's a roll of the dice. But it's one the Sixers had to make. Embiid just might be that good. Or he could wind up injured again and never amount to anything more than the flashes of brilliance he offered last year.

So why do athletes command such insane amounts of money.

I get asked that question a lot. I always give the same answer.

It applies to a lot of things in life:

Because they can.

It's the same for movie stars and others who rake in obscene salaries.

They do it because they can.

It's that simple.

Fans will continue to pay huge money for tickets, be gouged for parking and ripped off for watered-down beer.

The same goes for movies. The price keeps going up because it can. We continue to pay for it.

I still love sports. It's something dear to my heart.v But I no longer grip about the money these guys make.

They make it because they can.

I - and I assume most people - can't. They have a skill set that commands that kind of money.

Is it right? Probably not. Doesn't matter. And I don't see it changing anytime soon, despite the recent outcry over protests at sporting events surrounding the National Anthem.

Anyone care to disagree?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dealing with kidney stones

I never knew I was in such good company.

Apparently lots of people have deal with kidney stones.

And almost all of them no doubt are praying that they don't have to face a return bout.

I know I am.

I wrote about it in my Monday print column. The feedback was great. So many people reached out to tell me of their own experience and offer some tips for keeping these things at bay.

And almost every person mentioned something I learned first-hand: They have never encountered that kind of pain.

So far, so good. The X-ray indicated I have stones on both sides, but there is a chance I might have passed them.

Thanks for all the tips. Yes, I have been increasing my water intake. I always drank water all day - when I wasn't inhaling coffee. I'm trying to keep doing that. It keeps the body flushed and hydrated. It also keeps you in the bathroom.

All I know is I never want to experience that kind of pain again.

I'll keep you posted.

Joel Embiid cashes in

I'm not going to argue the move the Sixers made yesterday to lock up center Joel Embiid to a long-term deal.

The team made it clear. Embiid simply can do things on the court that not many people are able to do.

And that's part of the problem.

Embiid is all too rarely on the court.

That didn't stop the Sixers from signing him to a max contract extension, $148 million over five years.

Embiid, who missed all of his first two seasons in the league with a variety of ailments, has just started to scrimmage in 5-on-5 in training camp. He has yet to appear in the exhibition season.

He finally got on the court last year, playing in parts of 31 games before having knee surgery. He has never played without a minutes restriction because of his lengthy medical issues.

When the Sixers finally got him on the court, it was only with minutes restrictions that limited his effectiveness. He also did not play back-to-back games. None of that stopped him from showing signs of being a dominant player. When he was on the court, it was obvious he could be a difference maker, averaging 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds last season.

"He's a difference maker," coach Brett Brown said. "He has a chance to be great. There's still lots of work to be done. When you look at his body of work ... he's really only been playing basketball for six years, he's just scratching the surface."

No argument from me.

Embiid is the key to the Sixers season. With him, they have a chance to be a playoff team. Without him, even with the addition of Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, they are still in rebuilding mode.

But the flashes of brilliance have convinced team president Bryan Colangelo and ownership that Embiid was worth the risk. "In the time that he has been on the floor, we have seen him change completely the gym," Brown. "He does it with just his physical presence. He does it with a defensive mindset. And he does it with an offensive target that's different than anything else we have."

Now all they have to do is get him - and keep him - on the floor.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Third down magic

The NFL is all about third down.

And Carson Wentz is all about third down.

All the Eagles second-year quarterback did Sunday was go 11 for 12 on third down as the Eagles scorched the Cardinals. Wentz is dialed in. So is his head coach, Doug Pederson.

Wentz threw four touchdown passes Sunday as the Eagles raced out to an early lead over the Cardinals and never looked back. Final score: Eagles 34, Cardinals 7.

And it wasn't that close.

Wentz doesn't look like a second-year NFL QB. This isn't what young signal callers are supposed to be doing. Especially not on third down. But it's pretty clear Wentz is not just any second-year QB.

He has a varied skill set that allows him to adjust on the fly, and when all else fails, he has the physical ability to make something out of nothing.

Yesterday, in the battle of Carsons, Carson Wentz was stellar, while Carson Palmer looked very much like the beleaguered leader of a team that is coming apart at the seams.

Part of that is the frustration of Wentz's third-down magic. There is nothing more deflating to a defense than to surrender a first down on third down, thus preventing them from getting off the field.

Went tossed TD passes on three consecutive possessions in the first quarter to basically decide this contest.

It was the kind of "step on the throat" performance when you get a team down that the Eagles too often have failed to do in the past, instead letting teams crawl back into the game.

Overall the Eagles were went 9 for 14 on third down. Wentz went 11 for 12 for 225 yards and three TDs on third down. Wentz already has six TDs on third downs in five games.

This team has risen to the occasion each week, overcoming whatever obstacles lie in their path.

Injuries? They've had their share. The loss of Darren Sproles has not stopped the offense. Playing their second week without All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has not stopped the flow on defense.

Yesterday they lost right tackle Lane Johnson to a head injury. Ironically, it was Johnson's suspension last year after the Eagles sprinted to a 3-0 record that seemed to pull the plug on the season. Yesterday, they simply buckled their chin straps and soldiered on. Now they may face their biggest challenge.

They are looking at a short week before going on the road to face Cam Newton and a very good Carolina Panthers team. They also are 4-1. Don't be against the Eagles. And Carson Wentz.

Especially on third down.

Taking aim at bump stocks

Yes, we went there Sunday.

We waded back into the gun debate.

On our editorial page, we noted the national conversation. You know, the one we have every time there is a mass shooting.

But this time, in the wake of 59 people killed and 500 more wounded by a madman raining heavy firepower down from his sniper's lair on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Ban resort onto a crowd enjoying a country music festival in Las Vegas, there appears to be something different.

Stephen Paddock was able to modify several of his semiautomatic rifles to fire as an automatic. In other words, instead of having to squeeze the trigger on every shot, he was able to simply hold the trigger down and unleash his version of hell.

Both the guns Paddock used and the device he used to alter his weapons were perfectly legal.

The device is called a bump stock.

And it quickly became the target of those seeking to limit the damage in these heinous events.

But there was something different this time.

After the normal outrage was offered, agreement came in from two places where that kind of talk is not usually offered. Several Republican members of Congress said they would consider banning bump stocks. Even the National Rifle Association indicated it's something that should be considered.

Yes, it just might be time.

You can read our Sunday editorial here.

A medical update

I have been remarkably lucky when it comes to my health.

Oh, I've had a couple of minor skin cancer scares. It's in the genes. You know, that fair-skinned Irish lineage. Yes, I had my share of nasty sunburns when I was a kid. (What, baby oil and iodine doesn't act as a sunscreen?) The skin cancer thing is in our family so any more as much as I love the beach, I'm the guy wrapped on towels.

Then there's my face. Yes, take it, please. Or at least tell me it's going to clear up one of these days. I just turned 62 and I'm sure it's going to happen any day now. I've only been waiting since I was 15.

But none of that prepared me for what hit me last week.

What was it?

Two words: Kidney stones.

Believe me, you don't want to mess with it.

Kidney stones was bad enough. But a secondary issue was almost as bad.

I detail my medical maladies in my weekly Letter From the Editor.