Thursday, November 30, 2017

The practice of journalism

I'm always astounded by how little most people know about the process that goes behind the creation of the print edition of the newspaper and our website each day.

Almost every day I field phone calls from people with outlandish stories that they believe should be in the newspaper. Many of them involve activity that would certainly be classified as criminal.

People seem genuinely surprised when I start asking them questions about their story. For some reason, they believe that information should simply flow from their lips into print - or online.

Uh, folks, it doesn't really work that way - except on Twitter and Facebook. Don't even get me started on that.

I usually ask the caller if a police report has been filed in the situation. Or if it applies, if they have taken any legal action against the person they are sure has wronged them.

What I am looking for is a paper trail, documents on which we can base a story.

The callers seem perplexed that their word is not enough. Of course, they are not interested in just any story. They are interested in 'their' version of the story.

When I start asking for names, places and dates, they usually go quiet. When I ask them if they will go on the record with an reporter, they get a lot less interested in the story.

Yes, we do have a Sound Off line where people can vent their spleen. But it is heavily edited. You want to know what kind of people are out there walking among us? You should listen to the unvarnished version of Sound Off that flows into that line every day.

I bring up all of this because of a story that got national headlines this week.

It involved a woman who came forward to the Washington Post, supposedly with a salacious story about Alabama Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.

The story was false. It appeared to be part of a sting operation, hoping to get the Post to print the false information, then make them look bad.

But the Post reporters did what all reporters do. They started asking questions. They met with the woman and confronted her with inconsistencies in her story.

Then the woman did something I have dealt with scores of times in my journalism career. She decided to call the whole thing off. Only it's not that easy. Her conversation was on the record. In fact, it was recorded on both audio and video.

The Post ran story about the woman's hoax story and her connections to conservative media.

You can view that video of the Post reporter interviewing the woman here.

This is what we do every day.

Are we perfect? Hardly. Do we make mistakes? Unfortunately, all too often.

It's journalism. And it's needed more than ever.

The hunt for presidential

Given the reaction to yesterday's blog item on Facebook and social media, I probably should not go here.

But I did.

I expanded on yesterday's blog item on President Trump and presented it today on our editorial page. You can read it here.

As I said yesterday, this has nothing to do with policy. Do I agree with the president most of the time? No. So if you want to criticize me for that, feel free.

Instead my plea is for the president to be just that - presidential.

And he consistently falls short.

I had barely finished yesterday's blog on the president's use of a racial slur to attack a political foe when he was back at it again, re-Tweeting bogus videos the purported to show Muslims doing outrageous things.

They've been debunked, and world leader quickly criticized the president.

The White House explanation? It doesn't matter if the videos were legitimate or not, the idea was to push the message against terror, which remains a problem.

Does that sound presidential to you?

Yep, looks like it's going to be another long day on social media.

It's All-Delco time again, and 2 other sports notes

Three points on the sports front this morning:

* First and foremost, we are kicking off another season of All-Delco selections today.

As is our custom, after every high school sports season, we select the top athletes in each sport.

Today we get the ball rolling with the All-Delco Cross County team, led by Elizabeth Mancini of Cardinal O'Hara and Avery Lederer, of Penncrest, our male and female Cross Country Runners of the Year.

Here's the rundown on when the rest of the fall sports teams will appear:

Friday: Boys Soccer

Saturday: Girls Soccer

Tuesday, Dec. 5: Field Hockey

Wednesday, Dec. 6: Volleyball

Thursday, Dec. 7: Football

* * *

Here's a number to roll around in your head: 29.

That's how many free throw attempts Ben Simmons took last night in the Sixers' 118-113 win over the Washington Wizards.

And 24 of them were in the fourth quarter.

The Wizards, who fell behind by double-digits in the second half, adopted a 'Hack-a-Ben' policy, sending the Sixers rookie to the charity stripe as they attempted to climb back into the game.

It worked, because Simmons, who struggles from the foul line, made only 15 of 29, although he did sink six of his last eight. Simmons wound up with 31 points to lead the Sixers.

But you can bet other team's noticed the Wizards' strategy. It's not a lot of fun to watch, as the boos that rained down on the court from aggravated Sixers fans can attest.

If this catches on, Simmons will have to dramatically increase his percentage at the foul line.

Check out Rob Parent's take on the game here.

* * *

Finally, there is this.

Tonight we have to be Redskins fans, at least for one night.

If the Redskins beat the Cowboys tonight on the NFL Thursday night game, the Eagles become the first team in the NFL to clinch a playoff spot.

Hail to the Redskins!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Meek will inherit the headlines

Justice is blind.

But even we can see that not every case gets the same treatment.

Take Meek Mill for instance.

The rap star is sitting behind bars at SCI-Chester after a Philly judge astounded just about everyone by sentencing him to two to four years in prison for routinely violating his probation.

The severe sentence comes after the judge believed Mill was doing little more than thumbing his nose at the court. It sparked headlines, and protests. This week longtime civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton visted with Mill in prison and said his case is representative of problems with the system.

Yesterday Mill's attorneys sought an emergency order to have him released on bail. It was denied, but the court did order the judge to rule on Mill's post-trial motions "without delay."

Not getting nearly the same kind of headlines is a case involving Chester resident Leroy Evans. He has been behind bars for 27 years for the notorious murder of an Avon Lady. It's a crime his family and friends do not believe he committed.

Local attorney Mike Malloy has taken up his case, and is seeking to get DNA testing on crucial evidence in an attempt to win Evans a new trial.

We talk about the cases - and the search for justice - on today's editorial page.

Art of the deal: How not to be presidential

I have a tremendous respect for the office of the president of the United States.

It is emblematic of the leader of the free world, the very best we have to offer.

I respected it during the terms of George W. Bush, even when I did not agree with some of his policies.

Same goes for Bill Clinton, who certainly has his issues with some of his conduct in the Oval Office.

I am finding it increasingly difficult to have any respect for the man who currently resides in that office.

I am not asking for much from Donald Trump. I know I am not going to agree with him on most things. That's fine. It's happened before; it will happen again.

But I at least hope that he could be presidential.

He consistently fails to be anything remotely close.

On Monday, at a ceremony honoring Navajo war veterans being honored for their efforts as Code Talkers during World War II, he hit a new low.

Actually, it was an old fight, but then that's the thing with Trump. He can't seem to help himself. He doesn't have an "off" switch, or certainly not a "presidential" switch.

At this respectful occasion, Trump simply could not resist sinking into the gutter again. In front of these Native American war heroes and a room full of their supporters, the president could not resist taking a shot at another of his perceived foes, Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Trump once again took to deriding her as "Pocahontas."

The steely silence in the room was pretty much all you needed to know about the reaction.

Look, even I have issues with Sen. Warren and her claim to some Native American ancestry.

This was not the time to expound on that.

Trump just can't help himself. Picking a fight is not a character blemish with this guy, it is what he does. Anything or anyone that questions him, seeks to hold him accountable or is critical is the enemy and must be destroyed at all costs.

His weapons? Constant verbal assaults. It's how he eliminated one Republican contender after another to capture the nomination. "Boring" Jeb. "Little" Marco. "Lying" Ted. "Crooked" Hillary.

But none of that explains why he would resort to what most consider a racial slur at a ceremony to honor Native Americans. Here's my theory: He doesn't know any better. He didn't realize it was inappropriate. He didn't understand that it would be taken as an insult by many of those in attendance.

His spokesperson later said he certainly did not mean it as any kind of racial slur.

How could he possibly have thought it would be taken?

This is our president.

Presidential? Not exactly.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The cases of Meek Mill and Leroy Evans

Everybody knows Meek Mill.

And Al Sharpton.

Not nearly as many are as familiar with the plight of Leroy Evans.

Mill, whose real name is Robert Williams, is the Philly-born rapper who finds himself in the State Correctional Institution in Chester after a now-infamous ruling from a Philly judge who apparently tired of Mill's consistent disregard for the terms of his probation.

Mill was convicted on gun and drug charges, but repeatedly ran afoul of the terms of his probation.

A fed-up Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Genece E. Brinkley promptly threw the book at Mill, saying "I gave you break after break, and you basically just thumbed your nose at this court." She sentenced him to two to four years in prison, which he is serving at SCI-Chester.

That's where the well-known civil rights activist Sharpton was yesterday for a meeting with Mill.

Rev. Al reports Mill is holding up fairly well in prison. He is not in solitary confinement and he appears "very determined, not bitter."

The Mill case has generated national headlines as the debate over the judge's actions has raged. Many believe she has a conflict of interest and a person grudge against the rapper; others insist Mill had the jail time coming for the way he consistently flouted the law.

Sharpton used the occasion to point out problems in the justice and probation system.

"He's representative of many people in institutions like this," Sharpton said outside the prison after his visit. "They are violated and their lives are ruined. If you can do this to a successful artist like Meek Mill, you can do this to many around the country."

To people like Leroy Evans, though there is not nearly the public outcry over his trip through the criminal justice system. Evans was convicted and has spent the last 37 years of his life in prison for the notorious murder of an Avon Lady in Chester.

But questions persist about his participation in the crime, and what could be a tainted statement from the key witness against him.

Now well-known Delaware County criminal defense attorney Mike Malloy is seeking to have DNA testing done on several pieces of key evidence in the push to clear Evans' name.

Malloy was in court last week. He also has held rallies for Evans' cause in Chester.

They did not have the star power of Meek Mill or Al Sharpton. They did have Evans' family and loved ones, who insist that while he may have had some role in the crime, he was not a killer.

But Evans case could prove to be a far greater miscarriage of justice than that inflicted on Mill.

The opinion is not unanimous; others connected to the case believe Evans was at least complicit in destroying evidence and should remain in prison.

The hearing on the evidence and testimony in the Evans case is expected to continue Dec. 21.

We are glad that Evans is finally getting his day in court. Justice is supposed to be blind, with everyone getting the same chance in court.

Rap star or Joe Citizen, you're supposed to be treated the same under the law.

We hope Evans' hearing delivers just that: Justice, if not headlines.

Take part in #GivingTuesday

In my Monday Letter From the Editor, I wrote about my annual struggle to get into the holiday spirit.

My mission this year is to make each day "Merry & Bright."

Yes, that is a line from the classic Bing Crosby Christmas song, "White Christmas."

It also happens to be my favorite Christmas movie.

It's not really Christmas until I see Bing, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney make their way to that lodge in Vermont.

Sounds very "Vermonty," doesn't it.

Unfortunately, everyday life often intercedes.

What I do for a living does not help.

Yes, we deal with a lot of sad news.

But today we also will do something else.

We will endeavor to find Delaware County citizens taking part in #GivingTuesday.

After all that shopping madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, today is the day to give back.

There are hundreds of local organizations you can help with a donation.

I might suggest our very own Merry Christmas Fund, which benefits the Salvation Army and their work in Chester.

Whatever you do, I hope your #GivingTuesday is "Merry & Bright."

The road gets a tad tougher now for Eagles

The Super Bowl Shuffle is about to take a West Coast trip.

Yes, the Eagles have been most impressive in racing out to an unlikely 10-1 record.

They are not just beating teams. They are embarrassing them. They have now run off a string of four straight wins in which they posted run-away, 20-point wins.

And they are thoroughly enjoying themselves along the way. They are taking the touchdown celebrations to new heights (or lows if you are like me and are not a fan of such displays). On Sunday alone, as they rolled over the Bears, they had a family photo celebration; a fairly elaborate bowling scene in which they all fell down like pins; and, of course, an appearance late in the game of the electric slide. The only thing missing was the embarrassed bride and groom.

But the road gets a tad tougher now.

I know, you can only play the teams that are on the schedule. But the last month has not exactly seen murderer's row in the Eagles' path.

That changes this week.

They fly to Seattle for a Sunday night prime-time test vs. the Seahawks.

Then they will spend the week in L.A. preparing for a match with the very hot Rams.

That contest will feature a showdown between the No. 1 pick in last year's draft, QB Jared Goff, and the Birds' all-everything Carson Wentz.

It says here the Eagles go one for two on the West Coast. I think they lose to Seattle and prevail vs. Goff and the Chargers. I hope they make me a liar.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Thrill of Victory, & The Agony of Watching The Eagles Celebrate

Welcome to the show!

Literally.

Yes, the Eagles demolished another foe yesterday. This one was over before halftime as the Eagles again imposed their will on the Bears, rolling to a 31-3 victory.

How lopsided was it? The Bears did not pick up a first down in the first half. They managed just 6 yards on 14 carries. That left rookie QB Mitch Trubisky at the mercy of the Eagles' defense.

If it was a boxing match, they would have stopped it.

The win raised the Eagles record to 10-1. They have won nine straight. They are blowing out one opponent after another. So what's the problem? At least the way I see it.

Well, before we put them in the Super Bowl, let's see how they make out the next two weeks, when they head to the West Coast for back-to-back weeks against the Seahawks and Chargers.

I think they will do fine.

So what's bothering me?

Call if the Thrill of Victory, and the Agony of Watching them Celebrate.

Call me old school. A dinosaur.

But I don't like the elaborate celebrations the Eagles now roll out seemingly after every score. It's obvious these things now are actually rehearsed.

Hey, even I have to admit I appreciated the thing with the bowling ball knocking down all the pins they pulled off yesterday. I'm just not a fan of these celebrations.

Maybe it's an age thing. It's just not the way I was taught the game. Every time I see one of these, an old coach's voice booms in my ear. "Act like you've been there before."

Do I think it's a big thing? Probably not.

But I think it provides opponents with one more reason to try to the knock the Birds off their lofty perch.

But 10-1 is 10-1.

I'll take it.

But as long as I'm offering potential pitfalls, I'll offer another one. This kind of start means just making the playoffs is no longer enough. 10-1, best record in the NFL, means you had better still be playing deep into January.

Yes, I'm greedy. I think this team is that good.

I just wish they wouldn't rub it in everyone's faces.

On to the West Coast.

A salute to all those Barclay Friends first responders

I hope you saw our Sunday editorial.

In the aftermath of the horrific inferno that roared through the Barclay Friends Senior Living Center, much was made of the way the community responded.

Neighbors rushed to the fire scene to see what they could do and aid the elderly residents who had been chased from their warm beds into the 40-degree night.

Community organizations banded together to help.

West Chester University opened its field house as a temporary shelter.

But we should not overlook the overriding reason the tragedy was not far greater in scope.

It is because of that dedicated group of men and women who run toward the danger - not away from it.

We owe a tremendous debt to our volunteer first responders.

We tried to pay back a bit of that debt in Sunday's editorial.

A holiday wish: Be Merry & Bright

It is that time of the year.

My daughter, the 'merriest' person I know, has a word for it. It's our own little inside Christmas joke.

We call it getting 'imbued.'

This year I am taking on another mission, in part again inspired by my daughter.

I am endeavoring to make each day 'merry and bright.'

To that end we have a couple of special holiday traditions here at the Daily Times that we will continue to celebrate this year. Back for another season anchoring Page 2 in our print tradition is "Homes for the Holidays." Each day during the holiday season we will show off a Delaware County house all festooned for the season. If you'd like to see you house on Page 2, email me a photo at editor@delcotimes.com.

We also once again this year will partner with the Salvation Army in Chester for our annual Merry Christmas Fund. All money raised goes to the good work of the Salvation Army in helping the needy. We will once again list all those making contributions in the Daily Times. We have celebrated Thanksgiving, and survived Black Friday. I think we will manage to get through Cyber Monday today as well. Me? I'm just trying to be merry and bright.

You can read about it in my Monday print column, my Letter From the Editor.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Dreaded Black Friday Eagles Pick

Yes, I'm weighing in a day early. Call it the Dreaded Black Friday Eagles Pick.

9-1, baby!

How's that for a reason to be thankful.

And the Cowboys got into the Philly holiday spirit, getting embarrassed for the second straight week at home in Jerry Jones Palace, as they put up another turkey Thursday in falling to the Chargers. The loss leaves the Cowboys reeling at 5-6, losers of three straight by 20 points or more. All of those games have come without suspended stud running back Ezekiel Elliott. Without him, and with an ailing offensive line, QB Dak Prescott has not exactly looked like the say guy who was an MVP candidate last year.

In the meantime, here in Philly, everyone has spent the week guarding against two ugly words: Trap game.

The Bears are in town, sporting a 3-7 record.

The game comes after the Birds Sunday night demolition of the Cowboys, and sandwiched in between a two-week West Coast trip where the Eagles will face the Rams in L.A. and Seattle.

Doug Pederson has done just about everything right in this magical season.

That's why I'm banking on the Birds to take care of business vs. the Bears.

Oh, and a couple of other things.

The game will feature two quarterbacks who both went No. 2 in the draft. Who would you rather have, Mitchell Trubisky or Carson Wentz. The Bears can only hope Trubisky mimics what Wentz did last year, builds on that and then takes off in his sophomore season next year, much the way Wentz has this season.

But the Bears have a bigger problem. They depend on a ground game led by Jordan Howard, who actually leads the NFC with 841 yards rushing. The problem for Chicago is that nobody has run the ball on the Eagles' stout defense. I don't think that changes this week. Instead I think it is the Birds, with their four-headed monster backfield, that dominates the line of scrimmage and grinds out another methodical win.

THE PICK: Make it Eagles 31, Bears 13. That's right. I don't think this one is going to be close. If it's one thing the Eagles have done this season it is beat the teams they are supposed to be. They are supposed to beat the Bears. I think Doug Pederson will have them ready to roll.

LAST WEEK: Any win over the Cowboys is sweet. To do it in prime time, in a Sunday night encounter on national TV and in Jerry Jones' palace only makes it that much better. After they spent the first half trying to shake off the rust and getting back in sync, the Birds came out of the locker room trailing 9-7 and simply imposed their will in a dominating effort vs. Dallas. The huge win pushed the Eagles' NFL-best mark to 9-1. I remain in hot pursuit, picking another winner to improve my record to 8-2.

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)

Eagles 33, 49ers 10. (My Pick: Eagles 24, 49ers 10)

Eagles 51, Broncos 23 (My Pick: Eagles 23, Broncos 19)

Eagles 37, Cowboys 9 (My Pick: Eagles 29, Cowboys 17)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

RIP David Cassidy: Hair's looking at you

I was never much of a Partridge Family fan.

A bit too 'sugary' for me.

I was a Motown guy, before I became a rock fan.

The Partridge Family was what we used to call 'bubble gum.'

All except for one thing.

I would have killed for David Cassidy's hair.

It was perfect.

And as a kid trying to let his own hair grew, which resulted for the most part in a frizzy mess, a mop sitting on top of a face that usually resembled a pepperoni pizza, I can tell you I would some times watch 'The Partridge Family' TV show. It wasn't for mom Shirley Jones. Or to check out daughter Susan Dey. Or to laugh at Danny Bonaduce. It was simply to get a glimpse of that perfect mane.

All of this is a way of saying that David Cassidy died Tuesday night.

He was 67 and suffering organ failure.

Wait a minute, David Cassidy was 67? That can't be, can it?

That means I'm ... uh, never mind.

Yes, time marches on.

RIP, David.

More grim news from Barclay Friends fire: Human remains found

The grim news announced by Chester County D.A. Tom Hogan Monday afternoon concerning the inferno at the Barclay Friends Senior Living Center just got worse.

Everyone knew it was coming. That doesn't make it any easier to comprehend.

ATF agents who have been scouring the site of Thursday night's massive fire have indicated that human remains have been found in the rubble. The identities of the remains have not yet been released.

At his Monday briefing, Hogan said four people were unaccounted for, an elderly man and his wife, and two other elderly women. All were residents at Barclay Friends.

ATF issued the following statement late Tuesday night:

Special Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Response Team, Pennsylvania State Police, and Chester County Fire Marshal’s office have located the remains of two individuals inside the Barclay Friends Senior Center at 700 North Franklin Street in West Chester. Investigators initially located the remains of the first victim in the late morning hours and then the second victim later in the afternoon on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. The remains were transported from the scene by the Chester County Coroner and the families of the four missing residents were notified.

Investigators are still in the process of conducting an origin and cause investigation of the fire and it is expected to continue throughout the Thanksgiving holiday. A large crane and other excavating equipment has been brought to the scene and begun removing large sections of fire debris early this morning. Efforts to locate the two remaining missing residents will continue tomorrow morning.

“The thoughts and prayers of the men and women of ATF are with the families of the victims during this difficult time. Their losses only strengthen our resolve to provide answers to them as a result of our investigation of this tragedy” said Special Agent in Charge Donald Robinson.

ATF’s NRT, along with Special Agents from the ATF Philadelphia Field Division, were activated to respond to the five-alarm fire at the Barclay Friends Senior Assisted Living Center located at 700 N. Franklin Street in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The fire occurred at approximately 10:45 p.m., Nov. 16, 2017. First responders from West Chester and surrounding fire departments in the area arrived on scene shortly after the first call was made to 911 assisting with the evacuation of approximately 160 residents and staff members. The NRT arrived on scene Saturday morning to start processing the fire scene and determine the origin and cause once the building was secured and hot spots extinguished. The fire investigation is being worked in coordination with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, Chester County Fire Marshal’s Office, Pennsylvania State Police, West Chester Police Department, Chester County Sheriff’s Office and Chester County Department of Emergency Services.

It's back! Time for Homes for the Holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

And once again we’d like to share some of that holiday spirit with our readers.

To that end, we once again will be rolling out one of our holiday favorites - Homes for the Holidays - in our feature Page Two photo spot. And we’d like you, our readers, to once again get involved.

If you spend hours on your holiday decorations and would like to see them featured in the paper, send us some photos and we’ll share the spirit.

Email your photos to editor@delcotimes.com.

There are a few ground rules.

One - and the most important - there are no guarantees.

We will run a photo each day from this Sunday, Nov. 26 through Monday, Jan. 1. A quick use of our questionable math skills tells us that we likely will not be able to get every house in the county into the paper.

What we will try to do is at least cover every section of the county.

Join us in sharing the holiday spirit.

‘Tis the season.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A community shows its best when things appear worst

Yes, there was grim news from West Chester yesterday on the investigation into the inferno that consumed the Barclay Friends Senior Living Center Thursday night.

Four residents are still unaccounted for and feared lost in the fire.

But amid this dire news, amid the heartache that started with the first glance of those towering flames licking the sky over the senior center, we were reminded of what is good.

The community came together in the face of heartache to help those displaced by the fire.

Neighbors descended on the Barclay to help rescue residents. They brought blankets and hot drinks to comfort those routed from their homes, now sitting outside in 40-degree chill.

Then on Sunday an overwhelming show of support formed in the long line of cars cued up at the Good Will Fire Co. to drop off donations to help those displaced. These were critical items such as toiletries, clothes, even wheelchairs, walkers and canes.

It showed the essence of what we are: a community.

We talk about it on today's editorial page.

The grim news from West Chester

It was the news everyone had been fearing since late Thursday night, when an inferno roared through the Barclay Friends Senior Living Center in West Chester.

The first thing officials had to do was try to account for all the residents.

More than 130 residents and 15 staff were heroically evacuated as the blaze raged through the structure.

But not all the residents.

Yesterday Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan gave the news we feared: Four residents remain unaccounted for. Officials are not expecting a miracle.

ATF teams will now be brought in to sift through the rubble.

Hogan said that with high winds whipping the flames quickly through the structure, it's conceivable in a fire of this sort that the toll could have been much worse, that maybe as many as 40 to 50 people could have been lost.

You can get all the latest details on this tragedy here.

Monday, November 20, 2017

This Eagles team is ready for prime time - even if I'm not

That will teach me to drift off to sleep at halftime.

Have I mentioned recently how much I hate these night, prime time games?

When you work my schedule, they are a killer.

Which kind of describes what the Eagles did to the Cowboys in the second half last night, literally imposing their will on Jerry Jones' 'Boys and pulling away to a 37-9 victory.

Remember, this one was 9-7 at halftime, when I slipped off to La-La land.

That means the Eagles ran off 30 points in the second half while holding Dallas scoreless. The Cowboys did not score a touchdown. The first half was nothing to write home about.

The Eagles looked like they were still on their bye week. Doug Pederson's play calling seemed off. After a dazzling first drive that saw Carson Wentz march the Birds down the field to erase a Dallas 3-0 lead, the Birds spun their wheels the rest of the half. Passes were dropped. Wentz missed receivers. The ground game was stalled.

And adding to the mix was an injury to kicker Jake Elliott, suffered on a big Cowboys return on the opening kickoff. Elliott suffered a head injury and missed the entire second half.

That jolting news must have woke up the Eagles.

At halftime, Pederson informed his troops that the Eagles would not be doing a lot of kicking in the second half. They would go for it on every fourth down when they were not punting and would got for two after every score.

Then they went out and rammed the ball down the Cowboys' throats in the second half.

The offense simply imposed their will on Dallas, while the defense harassed Dak Prescott into a slew of turnovers.

Three field goals is all the Cowboys mustered - and nothing in the second half.

Too bad I didn't see any of it.

9-1. Best team in the NFL.

Unreal.

All the game details are here.

Check out beat writer Bob Grotz's observations on the game here.

From the worst, proof of the best of our community

There is still much about the horrific fire that destroyed the Barclay Friends Senior Living Center in West Chester Thursday night.

We don't know the cause.

We don't yet know if there were any fatalities.

But what we do know is that when faced with the absolute worst, it somehow managed to bring out the absolute best.

As flames consumed the structure, neighbors already were converging on the site to see what they could do to help.

They brought blankets. They brought hot coffee. They brought soothing words to their elderly neighbors, many of them still in their beds and wheelchairs, who had been evacated from their homes and now were huddling outside in chilly 40-degree temperatures.

The neighbors joined the more than 400 first responders who battled the blaze.

The help continued Friday. West Chester University opened its gym as a temporary shelter for those displaced by the fire. A row of wheelchairs was neatly lined up outside the facility.

Then Sunday, the outpouring of support in the community continued. Hundreds of residents descended on Good Will Fire Co. to donate needed items such as toiletries, clothes, blankets, even canes and walkers.

Today we may learn more about preliminary findings, as well as whether any residents remain unaccounted for.

What we know now is that, once again, when the very worst strikes, this region is capable of uniting and showing its very best.

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

Taming the 'gerrymandering' beast

We have become known for something other than the Eagles.

We have been saddled as the poster boy for the evils of what is called 'gerrymandering.'

Every time the issue comes up, the 7th District, home of U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, goes front and center.

It was not that long ago that the 7th pretty much covered Delaware County.

It still does. But it has been twisted and turned to cover a few more areas.

Meehan now represents constituents in four other suburban Philadelphia counties.

That was the handiwork of the the last time the boundaries were redrawn via the magic of 'redistricting.'

The danger in all this is that in the process of this blatant political calculation - one which by the way is practiced by both parties - is that your vote can be made meaningless. The party in power stacks the deck even before a vote is cast, recarving political boundaries to include those who back them, and cut out those who might vote another way.

Now the matter is headed into the courts.

That might be the best bet in correcting this problem.

You can read our Sunday editorial on the issue here.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

They are the two most important words in Eagles land.

Dallas Week.

The question this week is whether Andy Reid protege Doug Pederson will be able to mimic his old boss' excellence in coming off the bye week, or if the Birds' will be rusty from the week off as they invade Dallas for a prime time Sunday night matchup with the hated Cowboys. So far this season Pederson has displayed the kind of magic touch that Jon Dorenbos could appreciate.

The Eagles roll into Dallas with the best record in the NFL at 8-1. The Cowboys are fighting for their lives at 5-4 and coming off a spanking by the Falcons.

They will be without their offensive stud, running back Ezekiel Elliott. Offensive left tackle Tyron Smith, whose absence last week almost got QB Dak Prescott killed, is questionable. On defense, Eagles killer Sean Lee is out.

For the Eagles, only receiver Alshon Jeffery is banged up, with a sore ankle, but he's expected to play. Cornerback Ronald Darby is expected to get back on the field.

Everything points to an Eagles' win.

So why am I a bit antsy? A loss here could just about doom the Cowboys' post-season hopes. Desperate teams are often dangerous teams. It will be up to Carson Wentz and the Eagles' offense to set the tone early, hog the ball, step on the Cowboys' necks and not let up. The biggest challenge the Eagles face this week is regaining the precision they displayed in sprinting out to a 8-1 start.

This one could come down to a duel between two young stud QBs, Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott. Last year Prescott was everyone's darling. But without Elliott, and with his offensive line ailing, this year has been a struggle. Wentz has better weapons this year, and the Eagles should be able to move the ball on the ground and exploit the Cowboys with tight end Zach Ertz without Sean Lee to defend him.

I think they get the win, but I don't think it will be easy.

THE PICK: Make it Eagles 29, Cowboys 17. A late Eagles TD will make this one look easier than it actually will be. It won't be pretty. But right now the Eagles are just a better team than the Cowboys. A loss would have all kinds of negative repercussions for the Birds. While they will remain comfortably ahead in the NFC East, they are in a duel with several teams with best record in the NFC and possible home field advantage in the playoffs. That should be their motivation.

LAST WEEK: Actually you have to go back two weeks. I expected the Eagles to beat Denver in large part because it was the Broncos third straight road game and came on a short week after they had to go to Kansas City on a Monday night, back to Denver, and then across the country to face the Eagles. But I never saw the offensive explosion the Birds dropped on the Broncos highly rated defense, and the total domination of the Birds on defense. The win has the rest of the NFL looking up at Doug Pederson's Birds, sitting pretty at 8-1 mark. I was on board with another win and raised my personal mark on the year to 7-2.

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)

Eagles 33, 49ers 10. (My Pick: Eagles 24, 49ers 10)

Eagles 51, Broncos 23 (My Pick: Eagles 23- Broncos 19)

Friday, November 17, 2017

A late-night phone call is never good

A late-night phone call never brings good news.

Every time the phone goes off at that hour, that softball-size knot that seems to have taken up permanent residence in my stomach gets a little bigger.

That was no different last night, when the phone ran about 20 after 11. It was my ace photographer Pete Bannan, who gave me the news of the devastating fire at the Barclay Friends assisted living center in West Chester.

That started a combination of events that resulted in tearing up a perfectly good front page of the Daily Local News in West Chester to get in news of the fire.

I usually spend a lot of time cursing technology, but I have to admit that when it comes to breaking news, I am glad we're still not operating in this dinosaur days of the newspaper racket.

Of course, that does not mean we ignored print. We had just enough time to get a short story and photos in the print edition. Then we went to work updating the story online in the overnight hours.

The fire was devastating, sending elderly residents out into the cold, many of them still being wheeled out in their beds and wheelchairs.

You can get the update here.

At this point, officials are saying about 20 people were injured. Another 100-plus were evacuated.

One of the great things that happened is how the community rallied.

Neighbors who live in the area where the Barclay is located showed up with blanket, water, and coffee.

These are people they consider neighbors.

We'll be updating the story today and through the weekend.

But as awful as it looked, it also showed a community that rallies together in the worst of circumstances.

What is a hellbender?

Do you have any idea what a hellbender is?

No it's not some teen tough guy out rampaging around the neighborhood.

It's an amphibian. It's about to become the official state amphibian, if the state Senate gets its way.

Yep, that's what our elected leaders are up to these days.

Compare that to what just went down with the state budget and you get the idea why they call Pennsylvania, Land of Giants.

You can read our editorial here.

It's time for All Christmas music, all the time

And so it begins.

Forget Thanksgiving.

We're ushering in the Christmas season today.

At least they are over at Today’s 101.1 MORE-FM/WBEB.

That's right. At 9 a.m. they will flip the switch and go to all Christmas music, all the time.

They will be all-Christmas all the time through Christmas Day highlighting favorite holiday songs from Andy Williams, Nat King Cole, Mariah Carey and the rest.

They also once again will be doing their popular Christmas Choir Competition.

Ho, ho, ho!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Missing money mystery in Upper Darby

There is a mystery this morning in Upper Darby.

There is apparently money missing from the tax collector's office.

A lot of money.

No one is saying how much, but it's apparently a couple hundred thousand dollars.

The Delaware County District Attorney's office is investigating. No charges have been filed.

The township called in the D.A.'s office after the situation was first discovered.

“We are aware of the allegations. When these allegations were first brought to our attention, we notified the District Attorney’s Office and asked them to investigate the matter. The township has been fully cooperating with the district attorney’s investigation.”

We'll keep you updated on how the investigation is going.

And a tip of the hat to Joe Holden of CBS3 who was the first to report on the investigation.

Tax vote showdown today in D.C.

Looks like you can count the region's two moderate Republicans as yes votes on the GOP tax plan that is headed for a vote this afternoon in Washington.

Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6, of West Goshen, tells us he's voting yes.

Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, while not definitive, says the move will help his constituents.

Note there is a very important difference between the House measure and that being developed in the Senate.

Yesterday a last-second addition to the Senate plan would kill off the mandatory participation under Obamacare. The House version does not touch the Affordable Care Act.

Democratic Pa. U.S. Sen. Robert Casey blasted the new language, calling it a double-barrel blow to the middle class, hurting them tax-wise and also endangering their health care. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey supports the language eliminating the Obamacare mandate.

You can get all the details on where Costello and Meehan stand here.

Welcome to the Joel Embiid Era

Forget Dallas Week.

Joel Embiid just stole the show from Eagles-Cowboys - even if not many people actually saw it.

Do yourself a favor. Make sure you check out the highlights of last night's Sixers' win over the Lakers. The game did not start until 10:30 so it's a pretty good bet most people did not see it.

Take a gander at Embiid's line from the game:

46 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, seven blocked shots.

The 46 points is the most by a Sixer in 11 years.

You can get all the details here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Politics never sleeps; it's on to the next campaigns

Politics does not take time off.

Yes, we just put one election to bed.

But the next is right around the corner.

Lots of interesting scenarios already are popping up.

There is the state lieutenant governor's race, where John Fetterman, the hulking progressive mayor of Braddock, Pa., out near Pittsburgh, is taking aim at Mike Stack. He's not the only one. Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone and activist Aryanna Berringer, also are in the race.

House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, made official what most people already know. He wants to be governor. But before he faces off against Tom Wolf, he will need to tangle with York County Republican state Sen. Scott Wagner.

Then there is the 7th District Congressional. It might take less time at this point to list the people who are not seeking the Democratic nod to face U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan.

Here in Delaware County, there also is an interesting situation forming when it comes to the next county district attorney. Remember, current D.A. Jack Whelan was one of the very few GOP winners on Election Day, capturing a seat on the county Court of Common Pleas. That means the county is in the market for a new D.A.

A lot of people seem to think that job will end up going to County Councilman John McBlain.

But there is another Republican who is making it clear he would like the job.

If the name W. Craig Williams is familiar, it should be. He carried the GOP banner in challenging Joe Sestak in the first race after the Democrat stunned Curt Weldon and ending his 20-year stint in D.C.

Williams was not successful.

Right now he's a corporate attorney with Peco.

But he has a dazzling background as a Marine, former federal prosecutor.

Williams is on the record, having sent a letter to county Republican Party leader Andy Reilly indicating he would like to be considered for the job.

The appointment to fill the remainder of Whelan's term will be made by the county's Board of Judges. The post will then be on the 2019 November ballot.

What is tantalizing is what might happen should the nod go to McBlain to fill the interim spot. Presumably, the current County Council member would run for election in 2019. Williams has indicated he also would seek election.

Is it possible that Williams would challenge McBlain in the GOP Primary?

First things first. We'll have to see who gets the appointment from the judges.

A chilling indictment of Amtrak safety standards

The words are haunting.

"The accident may have been prevented."

Those are the words of Joe Gordon. He's an investigator with the National Transportation Board. He was talking about the lax safety standards that infected the culture at Amtrak and played a role in the fatal April 2016 crash that claimed the lives of two workers and injured dozens of others in Chester.

A southbound Amtrak train slammed into a backhoe that was doing maintenance work on the tracks.

Two Amtrak employees who were on the backhoe were killed.

The NTSB Tuesday released their findings on the cause of the crash - and they did not mince words.

They concluded that years of cutting corners, bending the rules and otherwise putting safety concerns in the back seat created the atmosphere in which the deadly collision occurred.

The feds made clear where Amtrak's priorities stood. The federal agency that runs the nation's passenger rail lines was overly concerned with punctuality, and less so with safety.

The feds pointed to no less than 20 separate safety lapses.v Two veteran Amtrak workers, Joe Carter, who was operating the backhoe, and Peter Adamovich, a supervisor, were killed.

There were seven crew members and 337 passengers on board the Amtrak train 89, which was zipping along on its trip from New York City to Savannah, Ga.

It's a bit of a miracle that more weren't killed or injured.

You can get all the details here.

In the season of thanks, a special act of kindness

As we enter into the season of thanks, we have a story for which we can all be grateful.

It was tucked into Monday's paper so I hope you didn't miss it.

And just in case you did, I reprised it today on our editorial page.

It's that good.

It started as a routine response to an accident for members of the Springfield Fire Co.

But because of the circumstances of the family involved, it quickly became anything but routine.

Luckily, there were no serious injuries. The Blackburn family, from North Carolina, were not sightseeing when they were involved in a car accident after a stop at the Target in Springfield Mall. They were here so their young daughter could continue her treatment for eye cancer at Children's Hospital.

What happened next forms a great story. Clearly their interaction with the Blackburns touched the Springfield firemen who responded to the scene.

They wanted to do something to help the family.

What happened next reminds us, once again, why first responders are such special people.

Well done, folks.

You can read our editorial here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Murky waters for Chester Water Authority

There is a lot of intrigue swirling around the Chester Water Authority.

It's one of those old line Delaware County Business icons.

It's been around for more than 150 years, pumping all that sparkling, pristine water from the Octoraro Reservoir on the Chester County-Lancaster County border back to Delaware County, where it services 19 municipalities.

But the water is becoming decidedly murky for the private entity.

First there was an unsolicited offer from water company giant Aqua America to buy the company for $250 million. That was rejected by the board.

But worries about a sale have not gone away, and now seem to be intertwined with the longtime fiscal woes of the city of Chester.

We delve into what is going on in today's editorial.

Hope the judge doesn't throw the book at me

Time for me to fall on my sword again. I seem to be doing that a lot lately.

You might remember that on Election Day, there was a bit of controversy in Philadelphia when it was discovered that voting machines were incorrectly displaying the name of one of the candidates for state Commonwealth Court.

That was of interest to us because the candidate was none other than Delaware County Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon. Somehow, between the time the ballot in Philly was proofed and the time it was loaded onto the machines, her name was shortened to just Christine Fizzano.

Republicans were not amused. They noted the importance of the judge's full name, which is how she campaigned, and went to court to get the City Commissioners to issue a public statement.

Fizzano Cannon's spokesperson, Pete Peterson, called it a "colossal screwup."

Well, I guess he can add me to the list.

Fast-forward a few days.

I wrote Sunday's editorial reviewing what happened on Election Day, and the tide of Democratic wins that rolled across the country. I noted that the only two bright spots for local Republicans were the Delco Court of Common Pleas race, which was won by Republican D.A. Jack Whelan, and the Commonwealth Court win for Fizzano Cannon.

All except for one thing.

I made the same mistake that had been made in Philly.

Yes, I referred to her only as Judge Christine Fizzano.

Luckily, this was after the vote and didn't have any effect on the election. Despite the voting machine snafu, Judge Fizzano Cannon still won one of two seats on the state appeals court. The other went to Democrat Judge Ellen Ceisler.

In fact, Fizzano Cannon was the top vote-getter.

Still doesn't make me feel any better for making that silly mistake.

My thanks to local activist Nancy Day, who posted a note on my Facebook page to let me know about the mistake.

"Imagine my dismay to see her name appear in Sunday’s Editorial as “Delco Judge Christine Fizzano,” Day wrote. "What’s a woman got to do to get accurate billing?"

Good question, Nancy.

More careful editing would help, I suppose.

My apologies to Judge Fizzano Cannon. And congratulations on your win.

Why Lane Johnson is my new favorite Eagle

Lane Johnson is quickly becoming my favorite Philadelphia Eagle.

Yes, I know all about that hiccup last year with the drug test that cost him a big chunk of the season - and likely helped the Eagles' season go down the drain.

But Johnson is back and has reasserted himself as one of the NFL's best offensive linemen.

None of that has anything to do with why I suddenly find myself offering a huge thumb's up to Johnson.

This is Dallas week.

Yes, I still enjoy watching the Cowboys lose almost as much as watching the Birds win.

Almost.

It's a Philly thing.

Johnson is from Texas, grew up rooting for those helmets with the stars on them.

But he's in Philly now - and he knows the importance this week takes on.

That was probably best explained by Johnson in talking about a family holiday get-together in which he noticed some family members still pulling for Jerry Jones' guys, not the Birds.

He said family members pull for him, but not necessarily the Eagles.

This didn't sit all that well with the Birds' outstanding right tackle.

To kick off Dallas week, Johnson told reporters of a family encounter when he had to lay down the law - to his grandma, a diehard Cowboys fan.

"Just pretty much all my family is from Texas and a lot of them say they’re Eagles fans, but I think deep down they root — like even last year, the Cowboys going to the playoffs," Johnson said. "I heard my grandma in there rooting for Dallas. I said, 'If you want to live to see 75 you better shut your a-- up.'"

Johnson assured everyone he was joking.

I think.

Gotta love Eagles-Cowboys week.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Cracker Barrel: Today's the day

Brace yourself!

It's time.

The Cracker Barrel Era arrives for real in Delco this morning.

Friday we were there for the special preview at the county's first Cracker Barrel, located in the suddenly booming Stewart Avenue area across from the Boeing plant in Ridley Township.

Today the restaurant opens to the public.

There probably won't be many people sitting on those classic white rockers on the front porch of the eatery as a cold drizzle continues to fall on the region.

But the coffee and the other classic American fare will be going strong inside.

We'll be there to detail opening day, and delve a little deeper into why Delaware County is so revved up about the newest entry on the casual dining scene.

Get 'Crackin', Delco !

A few more thoughts on those election results

A little more fallout from the election today with two more political posts:

First, on our editorial page Sunday, we took a look at the resounding message that was sent to the White House from every corner of the country. This was not just a Democratic message in Delco.

This was heard in Virginia, and New Jersey, and elsewhere.

Now all eyes turn to next year's mid-term elections.

It will be a huge one in Pennsylvania, with Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Robert Case both seeking re-election. It also will see Republican moderate Congressmen Pat Meehan, R-7, and Ryan Costello, R-6, on the ballot.

The message that was delivered by voters Tuesday should scare them to death.

You can read the editorial here.

Today, in my weekly print column, I fall on my sword - at least politically. I'll be honest. I did not expect Democrats to win any of the countywide races here in Delaware County, let along sweep two County Council seats and all three row offices. Last week I said I'll believe it when I see it.

I saw it - and I'm still not sure I believe.

I talk a little bit about what those huge Democratic wins might mean down the line.

You can read my Letter From the Editor here.

Even when they don't play, the Eagles win

How great are things breaking for the Eagles this year?

Even when they don't play they win.

Yesterday all three other NFC East teams lost.

Start with the Cowboys. They got hammered by the Falcons.

Without Ezekiel Elliott, they had to lean on Dak Prescott. But there was a problem with that. Jerry Jones' 'Boys also were without starting left tackle Tyron Smith. It does not appear that the Cowboys embrace the 'next man up' philosophy that the Birds have used to their advantage. Chaz Green was overwhelmed. Falcons' defensive end Adrian Clayborn turned him into a human turnstile, recording six sacks. The Cowboys running game went nowhere without Elliott.

They fell 27-7 to fall three games behind the Eagles, who now will head to Dallas with a week's rest for next Sunday night's nationally televised prime time matchup.

In the meantime, the Redskins also were having their problems. After a big win last week out in Seattle, they came up short vs. the Vikings. And the hapless Giants lost to the even lowlier 49ers, who recorded their first win of the year vs. New York. Ben McAdoo's head might be on the chopping block today in the Big Apple

Friday, November 10, 2017

Brace yourself, Delco: Cracker Barrel is here

You asked for it, Delco.

You got it.

It's time to get 'Crackin.'

Yep, Cracker Barrel arrives today.

Sort of.

Actually they are holding a soft opening of the iconic eatery this morning. The first Cracker Barrel in Delaware County will host dignitaries and celebrities for a special ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning at the new restaurant and country store on Stewart Avenue in Ridley across from the Boeing plant.

Then they will throw open the doors to the public Monday morning.

We'll be there for all the festivities.

And explore what it is about this chain restaurant that sparks such loyalty and passion in its customers.

A salute to the 'perfect' Phillie

We used our editorial page today to offer a salute to the 'perfect' Phillie.

By that we mean Roy Halladay - who we lost in a plane crash this week at the age of 40 - was perfect on the field, and just as good off it.

Halladay was the 'perfect' guy for Philly.

You can read our editorial here.

This morning there are a couple of Halladay updates.

His family has scheduled a public memorial service Tuesday in Clearwater, spring home of the Phillies.

And finally there is this one, which is kind of hard to believe.

Philly police say they nabbed a guy who ripped off a Roy Halladay jersey that was left at the memorial shrine that is forming outside Citizens Bank Park.

You can't make this stuff up.

Unreal.

Things just keep going right for Eagles

Things just continue to break right for the Eagles.

They're not even playing this week - and they still got two huge things go in their favor.

Yesterday Ezekiel Elliott lost his appeal against that six-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

That means he will not be in the lineup for the Cowboys Sunday tilt vs. the Atlanta Falcons.

More important, he also will miss the prime time Sunday matchup a week from now when the Eagles invade Dallas.

Then, last night, while the Seahawks were holding off the Arizona Cardinals, they lost All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman for the rest of the season to a ruptured Achilles.

The Eagles are in Seattle Dec. 3 for another Sunday night game vs. the Seahawks.

Get ready for the deep freeze

Don't be fooled when you walk out the door this morning.

It doesn't feel all that bad, certainly not the deep freeze we've been hearing about.

Don't worry, it's on the way.

The high later today will actually be lower than the mid-40s we're seeing right now.

The high today will be 40 degrees - and then the temps will go off a cliff overnight into tomorrow morning.

There is a freeze warning for the entire region in place and we'll be dealing with temperatures in the 20s Saturday morning.

Bundle up if you are going out tonight and especially tomorrow morning.

Get the full forecast here.

Best wishes to all the Special Olympians who will be taking part in the annual Fall Festival at Villanova University tomorrow morning. We're the official print sponsor of the games.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A historic Election Day in Delco

After another marathon Election Day in Delco, I went to bed Tuesday night (actually early Wednesday morning) still trying to come to grips with what just happened.

When I opened my eyes Wednesday morning, I was wondering if what unfolded Tuesday night actually happened.

It didn't take long to receive confirmation.

I flipped on the TV. There were Joe and Mika on 'Morning Joe' talking about Delaware County.v When I walked back into the house Wednesday night, the first thing I heard was Chris Matthews talking - about Delaware County. Yes, it was a historic election.

Delaware County Democrats won two seats on County Council, the first time that's ever happened.

They also swept all three county row offices. That's never happened either.

Democrats had never won a single county office - before Tuesday.

Then they won five of them in one day.

Stunning.

You can read our editorial on the importance of what happened Tuesday.

'The Five People You Meet in Wawa'

Everybody has a Wawa story.

For me, it's two seemingly opposing behaviors.

The parking lots at Wawas - especially the new super Wawas with gas pumps - just might be the most dangerous places in the region.

Navigating in and out of the parking lot takes a certain finesse, skill - and a lot of patience.

Finger salutes are not encouraged.

And yet, while voices - and horns - often are raised, we then promptly take part in another Wawa tradition. We routinely hold the door for those coming and going as we walk into our favorite convenience store.

We're pretty parochial when it comes to Wawa. After all, they were born right here in Delaware County, based on a farm in Chester Heights and with their very first store on MacDade Boulevard in Ridley.

Now local comedian Nick Kupsey has gathered some of the characters we all know so well into an e-book.

It's called "The Five People You Meet In Wawa."

No names here, but I think you will recognize every one of these people.

At just 40 pages, it is just like your favorite Wawa sandwich - a Shorti!

You can get all the details here.

Delco American Legion Post responds to NFL protest with one of their own

No doubt you've heard about the controversy surrounding NFL players offering various forms of protest while the National Anthem is played before games.

This started last year with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a knee.

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins has taken to raising a fist.

The protests popped up in response to a series of violent confrontations between police and minority citizens. Kaepernick and others used the protests to shine a light on the issue and perhaps spark some changes.

One thing it sparked is Kaepernick being out of work.

He parted ways with the Niners and has yet to be signed by another team, despite any number of quarterbacks going down with an injury. He recently filed a grievance against league owners, claiming they are "collusion" against him.

It's just one of the many issues NFL owners are dealing with.

Television ratings, the golden goose that feeds their mammoth revenue stream, are down. Some are pointing to the protests. Advertisers have noticed.

The league continues to be buffeted by reports linking the violent collisions that are at the core of the sport to brain disease.

They've also been feeling a backlash from fans who disagree with the players' actions during the Anthem.

This weekend that kind of protest will arrive in Delco.

The American Legion Post 951 in Boothwyn this weekend is planning a "blackout" of NFL games. They will not air any NFL games, instead opting to show a replay of the Phillies 1980 World Series Championship.

Of course, the cynic in me will point this just happens to coincide with the Eagles Bye Week. The Birds don't play this weekend. But there won't be any other NFL games aired at the post either.

You can get all the details here.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A stunning, historic night for Delco Democrats

Nov. 7, 2017.

Write down the date.

It's the day Delaware County Democrats made history by bringing two-party rule back to a county that has been lorded over by Republicans for four decades.

For the GOP, it is their very own day of infamy, the day when Democrats finally put some teeth into those registration figures. Republicans found themselves in a position they have not been in since the Home Rule Charter was adopted in the mid-'70's: The loser's bracket.

Democrats stunned their Republican counterparts and reversed history by taking both seats for County Council that were up for grabs. They also ran the board on the three county row offices, posting wins in the sheriff, register of wills and controller races.

The only Republican to come up a winner was Jack Whelan, the district attorney who managed to hold off Democrat Kelly Eckel for a seat on the county Court of Common Pleas.

Stunning does not seem to quite capture what happened on Tuesday.

History comes a little closer.

Simply put, this has never happened before.

Democrats Kevin Madden and Brian Zidek become the first Democrats ever elected to Delaware County Council, besting incumbent Republican Dave White and his running mate, former longtime magisterial district judge John Perfetti. In the process, Zidek and Madden will be the first Dems to sit on the county's ruling body since the Home Rule Charter was adopted, eliminating the mandated minority representation.

Republicans will retain a 3-2 majority on the board, but it seems clear that the days of the perfunctory 5-0 votes are over. And the Dems were not done. They also swept all three county row offices. Jerry Sanders beat incumbent Mary McFall Hopper for the sheriff's post. Joanne Phillips knocked off Republican Robert Kane in the controller's race. And Democrat Mary Walker defeated Republican Beth Naughton-Beck to be the next register of wills.

Turnout was stronger than expected at 32 percent, despite a cold rain that started at mid-day and continued through the evening until after the polls closed.

Democrats also made gains in several municipalities, taking control of ruling bodies in Brookhaven, Nether Providence and Rutledge.

The Dem wave extended into Upper Darby, where a very familiar race wound up on the short end of the vote count. Current County Council Chairman Mario Civera, who could not seek another term on council, lost in his run for Upper Darby Council. Before running for the county post, Civera served the 164th District in the state Legislature for three decades. When he gave up his seat, it also went to a Democrat, state Rep. Margo Davidson.

Count me among those who find themselves flabbergasted at the results.

The question now becomes why.

I think I know part of it.

It wasn't just here in Delaware County. Chester County also saw historic wins by Democrats - something simply unheard of in one of the state's most reliable GOP power sources

It was in New Jersey and Virginia, where Democrats captured governor's seats.

His name was not on the ballot, but make not mistake, a lot of this was about Donald Trump.

But that is for another day.

Right now it's time to give the Delco Democrats their due.

"It's been a long time coming, let me tell you," said county Democratic Party leader David Landau.

Tell me about it, Dave.

There is nothing normal about it

Before all the political madness hit yesterday, I was trying to come to grips with another kind of madness.

I was thinking about what happened in that church in Texas.

And it struck me that there is a danger we may not even realize inherent in the evil that happened there. It's tied into the fact that this seems to be happening with increasing frequency.

Almost as if it's becoming part of our routine.

And that is the danger.

We can never allow this kind of heinous act to be considered the new "normal."

There is nothing normal about it.

It's on our editorial page.

Remembering Roy Halladay

Perfect.

It was a word that described Roy Halladay on and off the field.

It was also one of the first words that came to mind when our worst fears were confirmed yesterday afternoon.

It started with eerie word that a plane that he owned had gone down in the Gulf Of Mexico off Tampa, Fla. Then, about 4:30 came confirmation from police. And just like that Roy Halladay was gone.

The two-time Cy Young winner only spent four seasons with the Phillies, but it seemed longer.

"Doc" seemed like one of us.

He made history by hurling the second perfect game in team history. He followed that up with another bit of history on Oct. 6, 2010.

He tossed a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in the first game of the National League Division Series.

That is the other word that came to mind when I thought about Halladay.

Of course, I have a bias. I write headlines for a living.

I immediately thought about the special commemorative page we designed to note Halladay's no-hit playoff gem.

It's a play off his name.

Histo-Roy!

I thought it was a fitting salute.

It still is.

RIP, Roy.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Citizenship demands participation

Citizenship is not free.

It comes with a price.

It is called participation.

That is why it is essential that voters not sit out today's election.

No, there is no race between Donald and Hillary today.

Instead the focus will be on local races.

There are two seats on Delaware County Council up for grabs, along with a seat on the county Court of Common Please bench, and three row offices.

There is a very important ballot question on property taxes.

A slew of statewide judicial positions are on the ballot.

As well as numerous local municipal and school board seats.

This is not the time to take the day off.

Citizenship demands participation.

And that starts today.

Read our editorial here.

Bye Week cools off the red-hot Eagles

Go ahead, Eagles fans.

Pinch yourselves.

Yes, the Birds are really 8-1.

Yes, they very well might be the best team in the NFL.

Yes, they dismantled a pretty good Denver Broncos team Sunday at the Linc.

Yes, they ran the ball down the throat of that vaunted No. 1 defense. Call it a reverse Orange Crush.

Sunday it was the Eagles defense that shined, imposing their will on Brock Osweiler and the scuffling Denver offense.

The Eagles put their foot on the Broncos' neck and never let up.

So what is their for dedicated Eagles fans to complain about?

How about this? Raise your hand if you hate the Bye Week.

Yes, that's right. The red-hot Birds will be cooled off this week by the NFL schedule makers.

After winning seven straight games, the green and white get a week off, courtesy of the Bye Week.

They now will not play again Nov. 19 when they tee it up in prime time in a nationally televised Sunday night prime time matchup vs. the Cowboys in Dallas.

Doug Pederson has been masterful in handling every issue confronting this team so far this year. So there is no reason to think the Birds will lose their edge on the bye week.

And remember, he served at the side of a coach who was expert in having his team ready to roll after the bue. That would be Andy Reid.

Bring on the Cowboys.