Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

14.

In football that's just a couple of touchdowns.

But for the Eagles this weekend, it means something else entirely.

In fact, it represents something never before done by an Eagles team.

A win over the Cowboys in what usually is one of the most anticipated games of the season would give the Eagles 14 regular season wins against just two losses. No other Eagles team has ever won that many regular-season games.

So if you're looking for reasons why Doug Pederson is going to risk most of his regulars in a game that is basically meaningless - if that is even possible for a Cowboys game - you can start there.

Add in the fact that this team has not played especially well now in about a month and you can also see why Pederson believes they need the work.

None more so than quarterback Nick Foles, who was dreadful last Monday night against the Raiders.

I don't know how long it is going to take before the Birds' brain trust realizes it, but this team cannot run the same offense with Foles as they did under Carson Wentz. It's not going to happen. He offers zero threat in the run-option, and so far he has failed to develop a rapport with his wide receiver complement. Some of that is rust. But some of it is not. With what is expected to be brutal cold enveloping Lincoln Financial Field, don't look for many passing records Sunday either.

Instead, the Eagles will have to shut down someone they did not face in their 37-9 shellacking of the 'Boys back on Nov. 19. Ezekiel Elliott will be getting the ball early and often from Dak Prescott. The Eagles should plan on doing the same with LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi. Whoever manages the better running game - and does not turn the ball over - is likely to come out on top in this one.

The X-Factor is that the Cowboys have exactly zero to play for, and how much interest they are going to have in the freezing Philly environment should be pretty evident early on.

I'd say they should keep the bus motor running.

Look for the Eagles to pull out a win while not convincing anyone this is the same team that many thought was a legitimate Super Bowl contender before Wentz's ACL exploded.

THE PICK: Make it Eagles 23, Cowboys 16. This one won't be anything to write home about either. But with Doug Pederson sticking to his guns to play his starters, the Birds should be able to prevail in a frigid Lincoln Financial Field. What's the over/under on the number of fans who are still there at the end of this one? I'll set the number at 20,000 - and I'll take the under.

LAST WEEK: Winning ugly. Eagles fans seemed none too thrilled with the team's play, despite the Birds getting the win and locking up home-field advantage for the playoffs. The Eagles struggled mightily but still got the win and lifted their NFL-best record to 13-2. I also was on board with the Birds winning, bumping my record for the year to a very respectable 12-3.

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

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

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)

Eagles 31, Bears 3 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Bears 13)

Seahawks 24, Eagles 10 (My Pick: Seahawks 23, Eagles 17)

Eagles 43, Rams 35 (My Pick: Rams 33, Eagles 29)

Eagles 24, Giants 29 (My Pick: Eagles 23, Giants 19)

Eagles 19, Raiders 10 (My Pick: Eagles 27, Raiders 17)

Friday, December 29, 2017

Two-party time in Delco

They are about to make a little history at the Delaware County Courthouse.

It's called two-party government.

That is something that has not happened since the county changed its Home Rule Charter back in the mid-'70's. Since that time no Democrat has been elected to County Council.

Until November.

That's when Brian Zidek and Kevin Madden turned Delco politics on its head by winning both seats up for grabs on County Council.

And that's not all. Democrats also swept the three county row offices.

We have an advance on the arrival of two-party government in the county.

And yes, I had a little fun with it on the front page.

Yes, New Year's is coming.

It's party time.

Or, in Delaware County, it's actually two-party time.

A pre-dawn trip to the 'Backstreets'

I am nothing if not a person of habit.

I have a tendency to do the same things at exactly the same time every day.

I get up at the same (insane) time.

I immediately grab by transistor radio (ask your parents, kids) and flip on KYW. That usually gets me up to date just in case the world has ended since I slipped off into a coma a few hours before.

Then I make coffee. Not a cup. A pot. I have two cups before I leave the house and then a travel mug for the road.

Once in the car - even when it is a brutal 14 degrees out as it was this morning - I am a maniacal dial flipper.

I jump back and forth between WIP, where I get my sports talk, and KYW, where I get news, weather and traffic.

I almost never listen to music on the way into the office.

Until this morning.

One of best gifts I ever received was the extension of the Sirius/XM radio package that came with my new car.

I could not tell you the last time I listened to an FM music station.

But even still, I rarely listen to music in the morning on the way to the office.

Until this morning.

To get from KYW to WIP, the band has to go across the Sirius band.

And I hit it this morning just long enough to catch the first few glorious tinkling piano chords of "Backstreets."

I couldn't resist.

I cranked it up about as loud as the radio would go. It's funny how much faster you drive when you have the music on that loud.

Yes, I am a serious E Street Radio fan. Imagine that, Bruce Springsteen 24 hours a day.

Even at 4:45 in the morning.

Maybe you had to grow up in a small town.

Maybe you had to ride around town all Saturday night in your souped-up car hoping the girl would notice. They didn't. Springsteen just speaks to me. Both his words and his music.

This week E Street Radio actually counted down the Top 100 Springsteen Songs. "Backstreets" was in the Top 10. I got to the office before hearing what was voted No. 1. It was either "Born to Run" or "Thunder Road." I am guessing the nod by listeners went to "BTR," though "Thunder Road" has always been my favorite.

My apologies if I woke anyone this morning by blasting "Backstreets."

That's one way to heat up a cold morning.

Thanks, Bruce.

How cold is it? Apparently cold enough to consider postponing the Mummers Parade

Go ahead, pull the covers up over your head.

Yes, it's that cold out there again this morning.

14 degrees is what my dashboard thermometer told me.

And it's about to get worse.

We're due to get hit with some snow Saturday. It's not going to be enough to cause serious problems, but it could make some local streets slick.

This cold is not going away.

How cold is it?

Well, the city of Philadelphia is actually considering postponing the Mummers Parade tradition of strutting on New Year's Day because of the possibility of single-digit temperatures.

I'm guessing this will not keep Eagles fans from packing the Linc Sunday as the team goes for a record 14th win.

You can get the full details on the forecast here.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Putting the unity in community

This is getting to be routine.

And not a good one.

This time, it took place right in our back yard.

The day after Christmas, a massive fire roared through the Hilltop Condominium complex on Brookhaven.

Thankfully, all 100 residents managed to survive. They scrambled out into the cold and watched their homes go up in flames.

Most of the building was lost.

Wednesday they returned to the charred rubble to retrieve what they could, including a few priceless family heirlooms and pictures.

Some people literally lost everything they had.

What they did not lose is their standing in the community.

And as we have witnessed time and again in the past few months, the community has not forgotten them.

When neighbors are in need, there is one thing you can count on. Delaware County will stand and deliver.

It was a scene we have seen that has now become hauntingly familiar.

We saw it when an inferno engulfed the Barclay Friends Senior Living Center. In that disaster, four lives were lost. But incredibly, everyone else got out alive, including many who were evacuated still in their beds and wheelchairs.

The flames were still licking against the night sky when neighbors descended on the site to offer help - everything from blankets to those residents shivering in the night cold, to sustenance - both physical and mental.

The West Chester community opened its heart with a massive outpouring of support and donations.

Much the same thing was seen when tragedy struck in Montgomery County. A fire roared through a home in Schwenksville, taking the lives of two small children of a Montgomery County sheriff's department employee. Several fund drives quickly were set up to replace some of the family's monetary loss.

Here in Delaware County, two recent events come immediately to mind.

Tonya and Mitchell Collins saw the reaction first hand as they stood in front of their burned-out Upper Providence home in a blaze that took place on Thanksgiving night.

In the season of giving, their neighbors, family and friends - even total strangers - stepped up to help.

The flames that devoured the Collins’ home had barely been extinguished when a neighbor posted messages on the Upper Providence Township, Media Elementary School and Penncrest High School Facebook pages.

The response was overwhelming.

A few miles away in Upper Chichester, it was a similarly heart-warming tale.

Tiffany Lane was struggling through a rough time in her life - not the least of which was seeing her home go up in flames. She reached out to a friend and former co-worker, Chris Malone.

He took it from there, organizing a massive effort to help rebuild Lane's home.

She and her kids moved in this past weekend.

It will be awhile - if ever - before the residents from the Hilltop blaze get back in their homes.

But just as in the other cases, the community is opening its heart to come to their aid.

Neighbors flooded the Brookhaven Municipal Center, where a donation drive already was being overwhelmed with donations of food, children's toys, blankets, clothes and other necessities.

"Everybody is on board to help our borough residents here," said Brookhaven Assistant Fire Chief Charles Leslie. "It's a talented community with unity here. Everybody helps everybody along in this town."

Sometimes it's easy to forget that unity forms the crux of the word community.

But as we have seen time and again in the past few weeks, when the chips are down, we are all about community.

About that 'real feel' temperature

13 degrees.

That's what the dashboard told me the temperature was when my bottom hit the seat early this morning to head into the office.

You know what I do not need at this moment?

I don't need any bogus "real feel" temperature.

If I heard that term once over the past 48 hours, I must have heard it a hundreds times.

Can anyone tell me just what the "real feel" temperature really is.

I mean, the temperature is what it is, correct?

I think I know what the "real feel" temperature is. It's a "real" attempt to hype the weather.

Funny, I don't recall anyone bothering to tell me what the "real feel" temperature is when it's 45 degrees out.

But of course, next summer, as soon as the weather turns hot again and we hit our first heat wave, we'll be told that it's really much hotter than that 90 degree reading on the thermometer.

Actually, it's not.

It's 90 degrees.

That's the temperature.

Right now it's the opposite.

It's "real" cold.

Aside from that, spare me the nonsense.

Lane Johnson gets the silent treatment

Lane Johnson is going on a silent count.

No, the Eagles Pro Bowl right tackle isn't worried about jumping offsides, even though he was flagged for three penalties in Monday night's win over the Raiders.

No, Johnson says he's done talking to the media.

"I'm done talking for the year. Maybe the rest of my career," Johnson told the assembled scribes Wednesday.

Johnson is not saying what he's upset about, although after the game he expressed some frustration that people were focusing on how bad the Eagles played and not the fact that they won, in the process sewing up the home-field advantage through the playoffs.

After the game, Johnson was not happy with the referees who threw three flags in his direction. And then he was ticked about all the talk about how the Birds had looked in the win.

"It just gets to the point where we are winning the game, but nobody is satisfied anymore," Johnson said. "So we won the game. That's all that matters."

Johnson has a point. The Birds are 13-2. But the fact is most of that record came with Carson Wentz doing his magic leading the offense. This is not the same team we saw earlier in the year, not on defense either.

While Nick Foles was admitting he had to play better, Johnson was taking a vow of silence.

This is the guy who cost his team dearly last year with a suspension from the league for using banned substances.

This year, Johnson has been a mainstay of the line, earning a Pro Bowl invitation.

To be honest, no one really cares if Lane Johnson has anything to say. Just say it on the field, Lane.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Ghost of Christmas past haunts Eagles, Foles

That was not the Ghost of Christmas past Monday night.

That was Nick Foles.

And that is reason for concern for the Eagles and their fans.

First things first.

Yes, the Birds won another ugly affair, finally putting down the pesky Oakland Raiders, 19-10. Don't let that score fool you. The Eagles needed a last-second field goal to seal the deal.

After missing a chip shot, Jake Elliott came through.

The Eagles now have locked up the No. 1 seed for the playoffs in the NFC. The road to Minneapolis will go through Philadelphia. None of which makes what happened Monday night smell any better.

This team is seriously struggling.

And at the top of the list is Nick Foles.

No one expected him to be Carson Wentz. No one expected him to be this either.

In a word, Foles was bad.

OK, two words: Really bad.

He overthrew wide open receivers.

He underthrew guys.

As usual he held onto the ball too long.

The offense sputtered all night. And that was Foles at the wheel.

The quarterback went 19 of 38 for just 163 yards, one TD and one INT.

The Eagles put up just 216 yards of total offense.

They went 1-14 on third down.

The defense was better, but not great.

This team is in trouble.

But not this week. Coach Doug Pederson will have to decide how much - if at all - he wants to plays his starters in what is now a meaningless regular season finale vs. the Cowboys at the Linc Sunday. Dallas was eliminated earlier Sunday.

Except for this nugget. A win vs. Dallas will give the Eagles a 14-2 record, the first time an Eagles team has ever put together those kinds of numbers.

That's not really the number that's on most fans' minds today.

They're worried about 1 and done.

Yes, the Ghost of Christmas Past is lurking around Philly.

Bah, Humbug!

***

We have full coverage from the game:

CLICK HERE for Jack McCaffery's take on the game.

CLICK HERE for Bob Grotz's analysis.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

Anyone remember the last time Nick Foles faced the Oakland Raiders?

Yep, he made a little history, tying the NFL record by tossing seven touchdowns in a game.

Since then he's been around, getting traded, released and even contemplating retirement.

Now he's back as the starter for a playoff team.

On the other hand, the Raiders likely saw their last shot at the playoffs evaporate when QB Derek Carr coughed up that killer fumble against the Cowboys Monday night.

They do not have a lot to play for, and I expect them to play like it. How would you feel if you playoff chance were hanging by a threat, and you had to get on a plane and fly across the country to play in a frigid Lincoln Financial Field on Christmas night?

This should be a Christmas gift for the Birds as they look to seal home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, if the Vikings win as expected.

But here's something to keep an eye on: The Eagles defense has not played well in nearly a month.

They need to get their edge back going into the playoffs.

Win Monday night and everybody can exhale and get a two-week breather heading into the playoffs.

A loss to this Oakland team would not be a good sign.

THE PICK: Make it Eagles 27, Raiders 17. No, Nick Foles is not going to throw seven touchdown passes. But the Birds should not have that much trouble with an Oakland team that has nothing to play for. Keep the motor running on that jet, folks.

LAST WEEK: I has the Eagles beating the Giants, but I certainly didn't expect that kind of a shootout. The defense appears to be in a freefall. Maybe it was just the third week on the road, if you call a bus trip up the Jersey Turnpike a road trip. This defense must play better for the Birds to do anything once they hit the playoffs. Nick Foles was not the problem as he tossed four TD passes to lead the Birds over the G-Men.The Eagles got the win and lifted their NFL-best record to 12-2. I also was on board with the Birds winning, bumping my record for the year to a very respectable 11-3.

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

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

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)

Eagles 31, Bears 3 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Bears 13)

Seahawks 24, Eagles 10 (My Pick: Seahawks 23, Eagles 17)

Eagles 43, Rams 35 (My Pick: Rams 33, Eagles 29)

Eagles 24, Giants 29 (My Pick: Eagles 23, Giants 19)

Friday, December 22, 2017

Will Wolf listen to the 'Shale-lelujah Chorus?'

The din a voices is growing calling for a halt to construction on Sunoco's controversial Mariner East 2 pipeline plan until new safety assessments can be performed.

This week U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan asked Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf to do another study on the issue.

He was quickly followed by Chester County Sens. Andrew Dinniman and John Rafferty.

Then it was Delco state Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky and Carolyn Committa.

A citizens activist group got a sit-down with the governor as well. For his part, Wolf continues to point to the PUC as the entity that would have final say on the issue.

But the voices are growing louder.

You might call it a 'Shale-lelujah Chorus.'

You can get the details here.

#MeToo reckoning in Harrisburg

The day of reckoning has arrived for sexual harassment in one of the last great bastions of male power in Pennsylvania.

That, of course, would be our esteemed state Capitol.

Call it #MeToo comes to Harrisburg.

And, as several recent events have evidenced, it comes not a minute too soon.

Kudos to two Delaware County women legislators, Reps. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161 of Swarthmore, and Margo Davidson, D-164 of Upper Darby, for pushing a new package of bill designed to offer more protection - and transparency - in cases of sexual harassment.

You can read about it on today's editorial page.

Another legendary sports voice silenced

I can't be bothered by another loss by the Sixers last night.

Nor the fact that they blew another 22-point third-quarter lead.

Nor the fact that they were forced to play again without big man Joel Embiid.

'The Process' is in the process of dealing with a serious case of the hiccups.

Here's my take on the Sixers: Until Joel Embiid proves he can stay healthy, and be a contributor every night, this team is going nowhere.

But I have another sports story on my mind this morning.

No, I'm not all that worried about the Eagles Christmas night matchup vs. the Raiders. They should win, clinching home-field throughout the playoffs. Then we can all exhale for two weeks awaiting that divisional matchup.

And I'm not yet counting the days until Spring Training. OK, I lied. I am. I always do. But first I have to survive the post-holiday winter morass.

So what's on my mind?

A voice.

A voice from our past, one so familiar to sports fans, and one that sets off all kinds of memories.

Dick Enberg died overnight. He was 82.

Enberg was the voice that brought us Super Bowls, Final Fours.

Of course, I had the same reaction as I imagine everyone else did this morning when I heard the news.

"Oh, my!"

Rest well, Dick.

You can read more here.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

'A Row Home Christmas' is pure Philly

Every family has its very own special holiday celebrations.

The same could be said for regions as well.

If you grew up in the Philadelphia area, there is a special holiday treat you need to give yourself.

Take in Big Daddy Graham's "A Row Home Christmas."

It is playing through New Year's Eve at the Swarthmore Players Club on Fairview Road.

I was there for the preview show Wednesday night. Actually, I was there for a little more than that. After each show, Big Daddy is doing a special question and answer session with the audience where they can ask him about the show, offer their thoughts and their own special holiday traditions.

Each night a member of the media serves as host for the Q&A. Last night was my turn. Don't worry, it gets better. Lots of WIP personalities such as Angelo Cataldi, Joe Conklin, Rhea Hughes, Glen Macnow and Ray Didinger (an old Daily Times alum by the way!) and even Phil Martelli will serve in the role.

Big Daddy, the longtime overnight host on WIP and a longtime fixture on the comedy circuit, plays a firefighter named Kevin who each year plays Santa in his old neighborhood. This particular Christmas Eve he winds up in his childhood home. Anyone who grew up in Philly will revel in Big Daddy's trip down Memory Lane.

And there is a special surprise at the end featuring a local Delco student. A huge thumb's up to Mikhaela McKinnie, a student at Drexel Hill Middle School. Keep your eye on her. She's a star in the making.

And one more Delco connection. Former Daily Times staff writer Anthony SanFilippo, a veteran of Swarthmore Players productions, directs the show.

Find out more about 'A Row Home Christmas' at BigDaddyGraham.com.

A salute to Judge Peter Tozer

If you are unlucky enough to come face to face with the justice system in this county, your first encounter is likely not in the Media Courthouse.

Then again, your luck would be considerably better should that first encounter bring you in front of Judge Peter Tozer. But you better hurry.

The longtime Magisterial District Judge for Norwood and Glenolden is hanging up his robe this week, banging his gavel for the final time in a long, exemplary 36-year career.

If you are looking for justice, look no farther than Pete Tozer.

It's on our editorial page today.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

I'm hosting for Big Daddy Graham tonight

Which of the following people do you think does not belong?

Angelo Cataldi, Joe Conklin, Phil Martelli, Rhea Hughes, Ray Didinger & Glen Macnow, Mike Jerrick, Eleanor Kerrigan, Phil Heron.

No, I'm not joining the staff at WIP, although I am a longtime listener, yet-to-be first time caller.

All of us are joining longtime local comic and WIP overnight host Big Daddy Graham as he presents a very special holiday production at the Swarthmore Players Club.

"A Row Home Christmas" is Big Daddy's memories of the holidays in his old childhood neighborhood of Southwest Philly.

After every show he's holding a Q&A hosted by a local member of the media.

I'm not sure I belong in this elite company but I will give it my best shot.

I'm hosting the preview show tonight at the Swarthmore Players Club, at 614 Fairview Road in Springfield. I don't have to go far. The theater is basically in the rear parking lot of our new digs here in Swarthmore - even though technically this is actually Springfield. Don't get me start on it.

The show will run every night at 8 p.m. through New Year's. The Sunday, Dec. 31 New Year's Eve show is a special matinee at 2 p.m.

See you there!

A new Concannon connection

There's a funny thing about writing.

You never know where it's going to go, or who you might make a connection with, sometimes delightfully unintended.

That's what happened when a reader responded to my weekly print Letter From the Editor column.

In it I talked about a lifetime of - for the most part - frustration as a dedicated Eagles fan, including many years as a season ticket holder in the legendary 700 level of Veterans Stadium.

But I also detailed the days of my youth and some of the quarterbacks I've seen come and go wearing the green and white.

One of them was Jack Concannon.

That struck a nerve with Kelly Cicchino.

So who is Kelly Cicchino?

Well, she knows a little bit about Jack Concannon.

She's his daughter.

I'll be honest, I had no idea Jack Concannon still had family living in this area.

I do know.

Kelly sent me an email to tell me how much she enjoyed the mention of her dad.

"Thank you for your most recent shout out to my dad, Jack Concannon." Kelly wrote. "As a local family, we appreciate the acknowledgement minus negativity. His 16 grandchildren will appreciate peeking at this one. Merry Christmas!"

I wrote her back and admitted that her dad was my favorite Eagle growing up.

Concannon, a Boston College product, spent several years with the Eagles, probably best known for leading the team to several key wins in 1966. The Birds wound up with a 9-6 record, second place in the Eastern Conference, which in those days got you into something called the Playoff Bowl. Concannon was traded to the Bears for tight end Mike Ditka. He also spent time with the Cowboys, Packers and Lions.

But to me he will always be an Eagle. I patterned my game as a kid after his scrambling ability.

She then explained how she was sharing my emails with her four kids.

Another generation of die-hard "Iggles" fans, no doubt.

Merry Christmas to all the Cicchinos - and the Concannons.

Here's hoping for a Super Bowl victory in our stockings!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A 'Neighborhood Blessing' in Norwood

Kids get a bum rap.

When they're doing things right, no one notices.

But just let them do something wrong, and people are all over it.

They friends make note of it on social media.

And depending on the severity of what happened, it could wind up in their local newspaper.

Yes, we're guilty of it, too.

That's one of the reasons I am always looking for stories that let us balance that view of kids doing good things. Yesterday we had a great one.

Meet David Ross. He's Boy Scout from Ridley who for his Eagle Scout project built a food pantry that now sits outside the Norwood Library. He calls it 'Neighborhood Blessings.'

To us, Ross, a student at Interboro High, is a 'Neighborhood Blessing' as well.

It's on today's editorial page.

Monday, December 18, 2017

The commute from hell

So how was your commute home Friday afternoon?

There are not a lot of positives about the hours I work. I accept it as part of the job.

One bright spot is that when winter weather arrives, I usually have the roads pretty much to myself.

I drive to work long before dark, when very few other cars are sharing the road.

At night, I usually do not depart the office until the rush hour is just about over. In bad weather, I sometimes even wait a little longer just to make sure the crush is done.

But among the many ways technology has changed this job, one of the biggest is the fact that we really do not need to be in the office to put out the paper.

That used to be one of the biggest nightmares of winter snow storms. First you actually had to get to the office. Then you had to hope other people did as well so you could cover what is always a big story.

That's no longer the case. So long as you have Internet access, you can pretty much put this paper out from anywhere.

That's what I was thinking Friday afternoon when I made what might be the single worst decision I've made in my 35 years here at the Daily Times.

With snow falling steadily and thinks looking like they were starting to get coated, I figured I would beat the afternoon rush and finish up the Saturday paper at home.

I left the office a little after 2:30.

Any guess what time I got home?

That would be 6 o'clock.

Yep, that little 40-minute commute turned into a three and a half-hour slog in the car.

In short, it was an absolute nightmare.

And I'm still not sure why. We didn't really get that much snow. In most places the roads were just wet or slushy.

But everyone must have had the same idea I had, because we were all sitting in traffic for hours.

Every road I traveled was creeping.

I was never really in danger of getting stuck - although Rose Valley Road was a little hairy - but traffic was just not moving.

It took me about an hour and a half to go from Granite Run Mall on Route 352 to West Chester Pike. From there it was nearly another hour to get to Route 202.

In terms of the snowfall, it was not the Perfect Storm. But in terms of traffic, it was the perfect combination to create complete gridlock. Snow started falling at mid-day. It was Friday and the end of the week. Everyone must have poured out of their office shortly after 2 p.m. to get a jump start on the weekend and try to beat the traffic.

The only thing I wish I had was an audio of my rants in the car.

I don't deal with traffic well. It comes from a lifetime of driving during off hours.

That was not the case Friday afternoon.

And I have the white knuckles to prove it.

The single greatest moment in Philly sports history

The sight of Carson Wentz limping up that tunnel at the ancient L.A. Coliseum last week got me thinking about the Ghosts of Christmas past.

Just once before I die, I would like to see the Eagles Super Bowl. I'm sure I'm not alone, and I'm sure some have been waiting even longer than I.

At least some of those older fans can be comforted by the pre-Super Bowl back-to-back titles the Eagles won in 1949 and 1950. For us boomers, we're still waiting.

Not that we have not had our moments.

For instance, there is, in my humble opinion, the single greatest moment in Philadelphia sport history.

No, it does not involve the Phillies, Flyers, or Sixers.

Yes, I realize all those teams have won world titles in my lifetime.

But I am still waiting on my beloved Birds.

But we'll always have Jan. 11, 1981 - and the greatest moment in Philly sports history.

I describe that day in just four words:

Wilbert Off Right Tackle.

It's in this week's Letter From the Editor.

Some Giant concerns for Eagles

Turn out Nick Foles was just fine.

So why do Eagles fans feel so lousy about that win over the Giants yesterday.

Nick Foles picked up right where Carson Wentz left off before limping off with a torn ACL. Foles threw four touchdown passes as the Eagles gutted out a 34-29 win to lock up a first-round bye in the playoffs.

But you'd be hard-pressed to tell which of these teams was 11-2 and which was 2-11.

Especially on defense.

For the third straight week, the Birds defense was less than stellar.

Eli Manning, you know, the guy who was benched a couple of weeks ago, scorched them for 366 yards. The Giants racked up more than 500 yards of total offense on what had once been a Top Five defense.

But the Eagles defenders have tread marks on them today for the third straight week.

They allowed the Giants to again drive the length of the field before finally turning them away at the goal line, thanks in no small part to a false start that pushed the Giants back to the 10.

Manning fired high on the game's final play.

Basically, the Eagles won this game because they blocked a punt, a field goal, and an extra point.

The Eagles now need to beat the Raiders on Christmas night to lock up the home-field advantage for the playoffs.

Luckily, the Raiders might be a bit less interested after a loss to the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football dimmed their playoff chances.

But Dallas is still clinging to some faint playoff hopes. They get Ezekiel Elliott back this week and they are looking at a date at the Linc on New Year's Eve.

Here is Bob Grotz's take on the game.

Right now, the Eagles have some Giant concerns, especially on defense.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

Welcome to the second half of the Eagles season.

Call it A.W.

After Wentz.

It's still hard to imagine. It's the one unthinkable thing every Eagles fan feared. We all witnessed it Sunday night as the superstar MVP-caliber second year quarterback hobbled up the tunnel of the ancient L.A. Coliseum.

Torn ACL. Gone for the season. And the post-season.

This is now Nick Foles' team.

Again.

That is not necessarily a bad thing.

Don't get me wrong. The loss of Wentz is incalculable. But this is still a very good team. Certainly good enough to handle the lowly Giants Sunday in the Meadowlands.

Who would have thought that in Week 15 the Eagles and Giants would sport mirror images of each other, with the Eagles at 11-2 and the Giants a dismal 2-11 and having canned their coach and GM.

This one should be simple. Pound the Giants into submission early. The Giants are near the bottom, ranked No. 31 against the run. But there is a problem with that. Things have changed in New York. An old Eagles nemesis, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, is in charge, after head coach Ben McAdoo was canned.

Everyone seems to think the Eagles' best recipe for success now that Wentz is gone is to rely on their formidable running game. Probably not a bad idea. Simply put, Foles is not Wentz. He does not read defenses as well. He does not have nearly the "escapability" as the Houdini-like Wentz.

Expect a big diet of LeGarrette Blount and in particular Jay Ajayi toting the rock.

But also expect defense to load up the box to shut down the Eagles running game and force Foles to beat them in their air. He's certainly capable of doing that. In fact, as good as Wentz was, he still had the occasional blip where he would overthrow wide open receivers. Those are the throws the Eagles have to hope that Foles can make. Remember, this is a guy who once threw seven touchdown passes in a game against the Raiders.

Instead, this is likely going to be a smash-mouth, old style NFC East game.

But I still see the Eagles winning it.

They'll get enough on the ground and with Foles' arm, along with some key turnovers from their defense, which should make live miserable for Eli Manning. Then again, I'm not sure how Eli's year can get any more miserable.

Look for the Eagles to win, locking up a first-round bye in the playoffs and - with a Vikings' loss - maybe securing home-field advantage in the playoffs.

THE PICK: Make it Eagles 23, Giants 19. The Eagles defense should control this game, giving Nick Foles short fields to work with, and allowing LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi to pound away at the Giants. Don't be surprised if this one comes down to a field-goal contest.

LAST WEEK: Yes, I picked against the Birds last week. And I was almost right. No, I didn't expect Carson Wentz to go down. This is still a solid playoff team. But a Super Bowl squad? Only if Nick Foles plays like the guy who once threw 27 TD passes and only 2 interceptions for the Eagles, instead of the guy who looked lost at times while trying to lead the Rams. It's easy to forget that during the mourning for Wentz, it was Foles who led the Eagles to the two drives and Jake Elliott field goals that lifted them to a huge win. The Eagles got the win and lifted their NFL-best record to 11-2. The loss dropped me to 10-3.

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)

Eagles 31, Bears 3 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Bears 13)

Seahawks 24, Eagles 10 (My Pick: Seahawks 23, Eagles 17)

Eagles 43, Rams 35 (My Pick: Rams 33, Eagles 29)

Friday, December 15, 2017

More on the end of an era in Delco politics; & a final salute to Civera & White

Second-guessing is a great sport.

I do it just about every day.

I sit here and wonder if I made the right decision, in particular when it comes to the most important decision I make every day. That would be the front page of our print edition.

In yesterday's blog, I noted how I expected that some people were going to think we were trying to take one final shot at the two departing Republican members of County Council, Chairman Mario Civera and Councilman Dave White.

That wasn't the case. The front page was actually a play on words to convey two divergent eras that were coming to an end.

I certainly did want to note the exits of Civera and White. In fact, we had reporter Kathleen Carey spend the majority of her story doing just that.

But the day also marked another inescapable conclusion. It marked the end of one-party rule in the county. I wanted the front page to note that as well.

I know some people would interpret that as taking a shot. Believe me none was intended.

Of course, as soon as that blog item hit Facebook, the comments poured in.

But I do have to say I was surprised by one comment. It came from another member of council, who was sure I was taking one more shot at the Republicans.

Just in case you wonder how we feel about the loss of Civera and White, you might want to read today's editorial.

Yes, they will be missed.

More snow coming Friday afternoon

We're back on the snow watch.

That's right, Winter doesn't officially arrive until next week (Dec. 21 to be exact) but we are in line for our second accumulating snow of the season this afternoon.

Once again, there is no need to panic. This is not going to be a paralyzing snow. But it will come at a bad time, arriving in mid-afternoon just in time to make roads sloppy and turn the always hectic Friday night rush hour into a mess.

Snow is expected to arrive about 3 o'clock, arriving from the west and slowly making its way across the region.

You can expect 1-3 inches, and once again it looks like South Jersey and South Delaware are likely to see the higher amounts. The National Weather Service has already issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the region from 1-9 p.m.

Here's the full forecast:

Friday: Snow likely, mainly after 3 p.m. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 32. Light and variable wind. Chance of precipitation is 70 percent. Total daytime snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Friday Night: Chance of snow, mainly before 8 p.m. Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly clear, with a low around 27. Light northwest wind becoming west 5 to 10 mph in the evening. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Saturday: Partly sunny, with a high near 40. West wind 8 to 13 mph.

Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 27. West wind around 6 mph becoming calm in the evening.

Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 43. Light and variable wind.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

End of an Era in Delco

Please take a close look at the front page of today's print edition.

It actually means a couple of things.

First and foremost, it was meant as a fond farewell to two outgoing members of Delaware County Council.

Mario Civera is completing two terms on council and is wrapping up more than 40 years of public service. Fellow Republican Councilman Dave White lost his bid for re-election in November.

But it also connotes something else.

It serves as notice of the end of the era of one-party rule on County Council.

In attendance at yesterday's final meeting of the year were Democrats Kevin Madden and Brian Zidek, who defeated White and his running mate John Perfetti in November.

There is a small photo of them cut into the bottom of the lead photo.

I know people are going to accuse me of taking one last shot at the Republicans. That really is not the case.

Very, very few people can point to the kind of illustrious public service as Mario Civera. From his service on Upper Darby Council, through three decades representing the people of Upper Darby in the 164th District in the state House, through two terms on County Council. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the county with a longer stint of public service.

You'll also look a long time before you find someone who speaks negatively of Dave White. Yes, the campaign got heated, and there were lots of things said about his business ties. None of that changes the fact that Dave White is a good guy. He'll be missed on council.

They both will.

Life in the gutter

I know I shouldn't go here again, but here I am again anyhow.

I am grudgingly coming to the opinion that Donald Trump is not going to change. He is what he is.

And to a lot of people, I am sure that is just fine.

The problem with that is - regardless whether he or his faithful followers realize it - he also sets the tenor for the national discussion.

A lot of the overheated, partisan rhetoric that has brought the country literally to a standstill can be traced to his doorstep.

But at a minimum I continue to hope for at least a glimmer of the reverence and respect that the office of the president of the United States commands.

And once again this week President Trump came up short.

I don't care about politics.

I don't care about Republican or Democrat.

I don't care about liberal or conservative.

His Tweet this week attacking Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., was a low blow, even for him.

Trump called her out in his Twitter post as a "lightweight" and a "flunky" for Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer.

I may not like that or agree with it, but it is at least within the boundaries of decency.

But of course the president was not done.

He then castigated her for once showing up at his office seeking political donations. And he added that she "would do anything" for them.

You can imagine the uproar that followed.

The White House, through spokesperson Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, argued those reading that tweet in a certain way would only be doing so if "your mind is in the gutter."

I guess you can consider me in the gutter, along with a lot of other people.

I keep waiting for Trump to act presidential.

I guess I shouldn't hold my breath.

You can read our editorial here.

Your early morning report from the roads

Here’s your early morning report from the roads.

Wake up, you sleepy heads.

Yes, we got some snow overnight.

Don’t panic.

If you get out of your driveway, you’ll be fine.

The biggest hassle of the morning, at least in the Chester-Delaware County area, will likely be cleaning off the car.

Which makes me wonder when the last time I actually was able to get a car in the garage. Not happening this winter either.

The roads in your development and side streets might be a bit slushy, but for the most part the main roads are just wet.

It is going to be another cold one, however. It’s 31 degrees out there right now and we’re only going to 37. There could still be a few more flurries this morning, then we’ll see mostly clouds.

Very cold overnight into Friday with a low down into the teens.

Get the full forecast here.

And for a full traffic report, click here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A win for Alabama & the nation

Good for Alabama.

In a stunning upset, voters there rejected the candidacy of Republican Roy Moore and elected their first Democrat to the U.S. Senate in more than a quarter century.

Democrat Doug Jones won the special election to fill the seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Moore, who was dogged by accusations from a slew of women that he had made inappropriate sexual overtures to them when they were teens and he was a young prosecutor in his 30s, refused to concede.

More arrived at the polls in his usual fashion, atop his horse Sassy.

The loss is a major setback for President Trump and GOP strategist Steve Bannon, who had pushed Moore's candidacy as crucial to maintaining the GOP's slim majority in the Senate, despite the allegations against Moore.

Trump famously quipped that Moore had "totally denied" the allegations.

It also shows the deep fracture that is developing in the Republican party.

Trump congratulated Jones on his win in a late-night Tweet from the White House.

Of course, this morning, he was back on Twitter with a new plot line.

"The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!"

There you have it.

Trump was right. Again.

I guess all those voters in Alabama were wrong.

You can read the latest on the Alabama election here.

Are Eagles fans cursed?

Are we cursed?

No, not as Democrats or Republicans.

I'm talking about something much more important than that.

Are Eagles fans curse.

This was supposed to be our year.

The team unexpectedly raced out to a 10-2 record, best in the NFL.

Everything was going right, despite that recent setback in Seattle.

Then the one thing that could not happen - did.

Carson Wentz went down.

He's out for the season.

This is now Nick Foles team - again.

Can the Eagles win a playoff game with Foles in command. I certainly think so.

Can they win a Super Bowl? I doubt it.

I hope I am wrong.

Then again, maybe we really are cursed.

It's featured on our editorial page.

It's brrrrr-utal out there

Brace yourself.

Or better yet, maybe just pull the covers back up over your head and stay in bed.

It's nasty out there.

19 degrees.

That's what the old dashboard thermometer was reading when my fanny hit the seat early this morning.

I'm not sure I will ever own another car that does not have heated seats.

If the brutal cold does not get you, the wind just might. It was howling all night as temperatures plunged by double digits.

This is the coldest morning of the winter so far.

Consider yourself warned.

You can get the full forecast here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Curse of the Philly fan

Sports - at least the version we are familiar with here in the sports-crazed Philly region - is a cruel mistress.

And nowhere is that more in view than among the die-hard legions of green and white.

They are a different breed, these Eagles fans.

Just ask the folks out in L.A.

Twice this season they saw their home turf literally taken over by traveling Eagles faithful. When the Birds played the Chargers a few weeks back, their retrofitted pro soccer stadium was likely more than half populated with Eagles fans.

Then just this past Sunday, "Iggles" zealots swarmed into the sprawling L.A. Coliseum as the Eagles faced off with the Rams. It got so bad that Fox Sports actually put out a casting call for Rams fans to counter the legions of Birds backers who crowded the set for the pre-game show.

Of course, this year the full-throated roar of "E-A-G-L-E-S" was even more raucous than normal.

This was our year.

Doug Pederson's charges raced out to a 10-2 record, tied for the best mark in the NFL.

And they did it despite injuries to several stars.

They lost All-Pro left offensive tackle Jayson Peters, the man tasked with protecting Carson Wentz's blind side.

They lost all-purpose running back Darren Sproles for the season.

They lost star middle linebacker Jordan Hicks to a blown Achilles.

Special teams stud Chris Maragos was placed on the shelf.

But they persevered, adopting the policy of their head coach, "next man up."

There is only one injury they could not fathom, and likely will be unable to survive.

That would be if anything should happen to Wentz, the superstar in the making QB who was showcased on national TV Sunday against another star QB, the one taken before him as the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Then late in the third quarter, the unthinkable happened.

That as Wentz limping up the tunnel into the locker room.

Suddenly, this was Nick Foles' team again.

Next man up?

How about next season.

Oh, don't get me wrong.

The Eagles clearly are still a playoff team, they locked that up with that thrilling win over the Rams - maybe the game of the year in the NFL.

But all of that is now overshadowed by the loss of Wentz.

It was left to Pederson to deliver the news at his Monday press briefing.

Torn ACL in his left knee. Gone for the season.

We are cursed.

Maybe it's our fate, forever saddled with ill will for once deigning to boo Santa Claus. Once again there is coal in Eagles' fans stockings.

It is now up to Nick Foles and Doug Pederson to give Philadelphia perhaps the ultimate Christmas gift.

The season of joy suddenly has a dark pall hanging over it.

Playoffs? Absolutely. A first-round bye? Possible. Super Bowl? Don't bet on it.

Carson Wentz doesn't play here anymore. At least not any more this season.

Just another day in Philly sports.

* Just in case you really want to be depressed, check out Jack McCaffery's column here.

Welcome, Nick's House

The Colleluori family moved into Swarthmore Monday night.

Well, not literally.

But their organization, the HEADStrong Foundation, opened the doors to Nick's House, a very special place that will serve as a home away from home for care givers and loved ones of cancer patients who are in the area seeking treatment.

The house is the fulfillment of the dream of Nick Colleluori, whose vision for HEADStrong took shape even as he was battling non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Colleluori, a three-star athlete at Ridley High, noticed the hardships that housing created for those who, like him, were getting treatment for cancer.

But Nick grew up here. Many people travel a great distance for treatment. Housing becomes a big - and costly - issue for them. Nick lost his battle against cancer, but he made his mom Cheryl promise to carry through on his promise to help those who were struggling with housing issues while fighting the same battle that cost him his life.

The result was first a home in the Holmes section of Ridley.

Monday night they cut the ribbon on Nick's House in Swarthmore, a sprawling old estate on South Chester Road that will be "home" for as many as seven families.

We welcome Nick's House to the neighborhood.

Nick's dream is still very much alive.

You can read our story here. And we offer a salute on our editorial page here.

All eyes on Alabama

The eyes of the nation will be on Alabama today.

And it has nothing to do with college football.

Instead, we'll be riveted by the race to fill the seat in the U.S. Senate race once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The fact that this is even a race tells you this is not a normal election.

Why? Well, there is this for instance. No Democrat has won a statewide election in Alabama in more than a decade. How red is the home of the Tide? It prompted one Democratic political strategist to offer this: “I don’t think the Lord Jesus could win as a Democrat in Alabama.”

Republican Roy Moore, a former judge and prosecutor, is in the race of his life against Democrat Doug Jones.

All of this has to do with allegations that have dogged Moore that when he was a young prosecutor, he had inappropriate relationships with young girls, some in their early teens. Moore vehemently denies the charges.

It is all part of the sexual harassment firestorm that has enveloped the country for months now.

It brought down Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

It has toppled media giants.

And it cost Democrat Al Franken his seat in the U.S. Senate.

In fact, you could make the argument that Franken was placed on the sacrificial altar by Democrats for the reason that it would allow them to turn up the heat on Moore - along with President Trump.

And it just might allow them to pick up a seat and make the GOP's razor-thin edge in the Senate even more tenuous. Remember that the governor of Minnesota is a Democrat and is likely to appoint another Dem to fill Franken's seat.

A dozen women have come forward to accuse the president of inappropriate conduct before he was a candidate. Trump has flatly said the women's stories simply did not happen.

Today we will watch the results in Alabama closely.

We won't be the only ones.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Agony of Victory

It's official: The football gods must hate us.

Most Monday mornings after the kind of exhilarating win the Eagles gutted out vs. the Rams in L.A. yesterday afternoon, the Philadelphia region would be on top of the world.

The Eagles are back on top of the NFL, with a league-best 11-2 record. They locked up the NFC East crown. People would be making their reservations for Minneapolis, where they are playing the Super Bowl this year.

Instead, a shroud hangs over Philadelphia.

I tried to capture it on today's front page.

I called it the "Agony of Victory."

That's because the Eagles likely have lost the one player who makes them something special.

Carson Wentz left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury. Some sources are saying he may have torn an ACL. That would mean he's out for the season, including the playoffs.

Give the Eagles and Nick Foles all the credit in the world.

They still managed to rally and beat the Rams, 43-35, in what might be the best NFL game you'll see in a long time, Let's be clear. Without Carson Wentz, the Eagles are still a playoff team. They might even win a couple of games.

But they are not a Super Bowl team.

That is the difference Carson Wentz makes.

It is the risk you take with Wentz. Ironically, he suffered the injury on a play that didn't matter. He plunged into the end zone on a scramble but the play was nullified by a holding call on right tackle Lane Johnson.

Incredibly, Wentz stayed in the game for several plays and still threw a TD pass.

At least the NFL should be happy. It as great TV.

Now we wait for the medical news.

And we curse our fate as Eagles fans.

'Fake News' and the practice of journalism

It was another tough week for journalism last week.

And this has nothing to do with the cratering business model that threatens the industry.

No, this is about reporting, and what we do.

As clearly evidenced by high-profile cases in which news organizations got things wrong, the business is having its issues. Those instances put a cloud over the vast majority of what we do.

It plays into the hands of those who are all too willing to scream "fake news" every time something gets reported that they don't like. It happens every day.

I know. I answer the phone and I hear it.

I talk a little bit about the practice of journalism in my weekly Letter From the Editor print column today.

The battle against gerrymandering

No elected post should be "voter-proof."

That is what they are arguing in a courtroom in downtown Philly.

It's about gerrymandering.

And here is the key thing to remember.

Try to take politics out of it. That is actually one of the things this lawsuit against the most recent Congressional redistricting plan is attempting to accomplish.

The truth is both sides engage in this, using the redrawing of the boundaries to favor their side.

Today a second suit will kick off out in Harrisburg.

Make sure you read our editorial on this whole shameful process here.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

The Eagles this week may have to do something they have not done yet this year.

No, not win after a loss. They already did that in Week 3 when they recovered from their only other loss, against the Chiefs, and held off the Giants.

But the one thing they have not done so far this year is win a high-scoring shootout. For the most part, during that most enjoyable nine-game win streak, they were blowing out the lesser lights of this year's NFL.

That won't be the case Sunday in L.A.

The Rams are for real. On both sides of the ball.

Led by Jared Goff, they are going to score points, even against the Eagles' stout defense. They can grind it on the ground, led by Todd Gurley, or in the air with Goff.

Everyone will be watching the battle between Goff, who was taken No. 1 in the draft, against Wentz, who went No. 2.

But keep your eyes on the line. It's likely the team that can run the ball and control the clock is going to take this game.

There is another factor at play as well. The Eagles got a wake-up call vs. Seattle, but they have not exactly been in their normal routine this week. They are practicing on a baseball field and staying in a hotel, maybe with one eye on the wildfires that have been devastating southern California.

The Seattle game was a test. Can the Eagles beat a very good, playoff-caliber team? They came up short. Now they get another bite at the apple. I still don't think they're up to the task.

Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense would be wise not to have another slow start, as is suddenly their habit. They may not be able to catch the high-flying Rams.

I see the Eagles falling behind in the first half, then both teams putting up points in the second.

I hope I'm wrong, but I think the Birds will lose two in a row for the first time this year, endangering their ability to secure home field advantage in the playoffs.

THE PICK: Make it Rams 33, Eagles 29. Two losses in a row? That's something that hasn't happened this year. This will be a good test for Doug Pederson and the Eagles, to see how they react after an off night in Seattle. I still think they're a solid playoff team, I just don't think they're as good as they looked while rolling over the dregs of the NFL. Again, I hope I'm wrong.

LAST WEEK: The Seahawks were a desperate team and it showed. They simply outplayed the Eagles, who continued a trend, bad first half, furious rally in second half. But they continued to turn the ball over, and in the NFL that is a killer. The loss dropped the Eagles to a still very good 10-2. In the meantime, going with Seattle allowed me to pull even again, with an identical 10-2 mark. I'm going against them again this week.

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)

Eagles 31, Bears 3 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Bears 13)

Seahawks 24, Eagles 10 (My Pick: Seahawks 23, Eagles 17)

Friday, December 8, 2017

The shame of Chester Upland

On our editorial page today, we delve into the shame of the Chester Upland School District.

How bad are things there?

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale was in town to talk about his team's recent audit of the troubled school district.

There was only one problem.

The audit didn't happen.

Why?

Brace yourself.

The district could not even produce the documents needed to perform the audit.

You can't make this stuff up.

And this from a school district that annually receives millions of dollars in taxpayer money via state funding.

For their part, the district is blaming a recent move to new offices and also points out most of the discrepancies and missing documents took place in the term of a previous administration.

The problem in Chester Upland is that there is always a previous administration.

The district has been under state receivership since 2012 and in that time has had three receivers and two different superintendents.

Of course, in the meantime, it's the children and families of Chester Upland who wind up losing.

No wonder there is a groundswell for school choice and charter schools.

It's gone on far too long.

You can read our editorial here.

Dec. 8, 1980.

The day the music died.

John Lennon was shot as he returned to his home in The Dakota apartment building off Central Park in New York City.

Here is the way much of the world learned about the death of the former Beatle:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

'Chaos' in the Chester Upland School District

Stop us if you've heard this before.

Chester Upland School District is a mess.

Actually, the word used by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale was "chaos."

DePasquale was in town Wednesday to release the results of the latest state audit of Chester Upland's books.

Or at least that was his hope.

It didn't turn out that way.

That's because DePasquale said things are so bad in Chester Upland that officials were not even able to supply the necessary paperwork his office needed to do the audit.

"Total administrative chaos," is how the auditor general put it.

DePasquale, who has now been in charge of reviewing the books for public agencies in the state for almost five years, says that has never happened before.

The Democrat stopped in our office in Swarthmore Wednesday morning to discuss his dealings with the district.

He noted it's "very rare" to run into this kind of difficulty and lack of cooperation. At one point he referred to the district as the Titanic.

“It is rather rare to find a school district in such disarray that we are unable to complete an audit and leaves doubts about whether the district’s students are getting the education they deserve and need,” DePasquale said in a statement.

“Sadly, with Chester Upland School District, there was so much information the district couldn’t provide that we were unable to come to a full conclusion on the district’s status.”

For their part, the district blames much of the problem on the missing documents on a recent move to new offices.

The auditor general did offer some hope that the new team in control of the district is showing signs of progress at turning things around. Veteran Chester Upland educator Dr. Juan Baughn took over as superintendent when Dr. Gregory Shannon resigned suddenly last December. Baughn was formally named superintendent back in July.

The audit would have covered the years 2013-2016. DePasquale said the district's finances continue to crater Back in 2012 the district had a $2 million balance; now they're staring at a $163 million deficit.

The school district released a statement saying most of the infractions took place in the academic years 2012 to 2016, before the current administration was in place.

DePasquale has referred the matter to the governor's office, the state Department of Education and the Legislature.

He also noted that he believed the district, which has been under state receivership since 2012, would benefit by a return to local control, as they are preparing to do in the city of Philadelphia. Chester Upland has gone through three state receivers since then.

DePasquale also pointed out something that often gets lost in the numbers.

The children and families are Chester Upland are too often getting cheated out of a decent education by bureaucratic bungling.

And have been for a long time.

You can read our story here.

For the full auditor general's report, CLICK HERE.

Mystery at Wallingford Elementary

There is a mystery in the Wallingford Swarthmore School District.

The respected principal of Wallingford Elementary School resigned suddenly Monday.

The school alerted the community, noting that Joshua Peterkin left his post because of an allegation of 'inappropriate conduct."

The district was quick to point out the incident did not involve any students at the school.

But other than that, they aren't saying much.

Both the district Superintendent Lisa Palmer and solicitor are indicating they won't have much more to say, pointing out they are limited because it's a personnel issue.

That leaves a lot of people wondering just what it was that would cause Peterkin to leave his job.

Joseph Buechler, a vice principal at Strath Haven Middle School, is taking over at Wallingford Elementary on an interim basis, while the school starts an immediate search for Peterkin's successor.

One parent we talked to indicated she was glad the district took quick action, but was hoping for more transparency.

I get the feeling she's not the only one.

Day of Infamy

It is the day that changed the world.

Or, as it's better known, the "day that will live in infamy."

Dec. 7.

Pearl Harbor Day.

It's a day that changed the course of the United State - and the world - forever.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor forced American to shake off its isolationist stance and plunged it into World War II.

It's important to remember the lessons learned on that day.

In no small part so that they are not repeated again.

You can read our editorial on the lessons of Pearl Harbor here.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Off the rails in Harrisburg

Every time you wonder if things can't just a bit more bizarre among our ruling set out there in Harrisburg, they manage to top - or perhaps lower - themselves.

Witness what happened during a House committee hearing yesterday.

Conservative Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler County, was speaking when the chairman, Democrat Matt Bradford, D-Montgomery County, who was sitting next to him, tapped him on the arm.

This did not sit well with Metcalfe, who offered the following exchange.

"Look, I'm a heterosexual. I have a wife, I love my wife. I don't like men, as you might. But stop touching me all the time. "It's like, keep your hands to yourself. Like, if you want to touch somebody, you have people on your side of the aisle that might like it. I don't."

Bradford is married with four children.

He tried to resist a laugh as the other legislators winced at the exchange.

"We are officially off the rails," he commented as fellow legislators guffawed and one tried to hide her face from a video camera.

In an interview later Metcalfe claimed Bradford has been touching him for months and that he had asked him to stop.

Now Pennsylvania Democrats are calling on Metcalfe's actions homophobic and are calling on him to step down.

This is hardly the first disagreement involving Metcalfe and state Democrats. He has been criticized in the past for inviting a white supremacist group to the Capitol, and for trying to silence gay lawmakers.

“Enough is enough. Daryl Metcalfe is a walking, talking embarrassment to Pennsylvanians and doesn't deserve the honor of serving in public office,” said Brandon Cwalina, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. “For years Metcalfe has taken policy positions based on bigoted misconceptions and fear of minority groups and the LGBT community, but today he has gone beyond the pale. We are again calling on Daryl Metcalfe to resign and to apologize to all Pennsylvanians for his ridiculously bigoted behavior.”

Yep, we're off the rails.

But then again, in Harrisburg, how could you tell?

Congress needs to help kids

While the nation has been focused on the Republican tax reform plan, another crisis has been flying under the radar.

It should not be.

Congress has yet to authorize funding for CHIP. That stands for Children's Health Insurance Program. It covers kids in low-income families who earn too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid programs.

The program covers almost 8,000 kids here in Delaware County, about 100,000 across Pennsylvania, and millions across the nation.

All of those programs are in danger of running out of money because Congress has yet to authorize funding for the plan.

U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6, of Chester County, is pushing a measure to at least get the funding secured until a permanent fix can be put in place.

Congress needs to OK the plan - and then quickly address a permanent solution.

You can read our stance on this crucial program on today's editorial page.

William Penn loses a champion

This newspaper has long reported on the struggles of the William Penn School District, in particular the way Pennsylvania's system of funding education has for years penalized families there for no reason other than their zip code.

No one has fought longer and harder to rectify that situation than longtime William Penn School Board Member Charlotte Hummel.

That's why we're sad to report that the kids of William Penn have lost one of their biggest champions.

After 16 years serving on the school board, Hummel is stepping down.

She was honored at this week's school board reorganization meeting, along with another outgoing board member, Rafi Cave, who has served since 2013.

Hummel first joined William Penn back in 2001.

She will be greatly missed.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A response from Sen. Toomey

Not everyone agreed with the opinion we presented in Sunday's editorial on the GOP tax reform plan.

Sen. Pat Toomey for one.

The Republican Pennsylvania senator's office issued a reponse to the editorial, pointing out what they say are inaccuracies. They are right about one thing.

The final version of the plan did restore a version of the alternative minimum tax, as well as the deduction for home mortgage interest.

Sen. Toomey continues to believe that the corporate tax cuts - which we happen to agree with - will be a huge boost to the economy.

But we continue to disagree with him in that the bill is lopsided in its giveaways to the wealthiest Americans.

We'll agree to disagree.

You can read the response of Toomey's team here.

Two communities rally to help neighbors

'Tis the season.

I had the sentiment in mind when I penned today's editorial.

It demonstrates once again that when the chips are down, Delaware County always comes through.

We recently chronicled the efforts of two different communities in rallying behind two families that had basically suffered everything in recent fires.

In Upper Providence, their families, friends and community came to the aid of the Collins family after a fire roared through their home.

The same thing happened in Upper Chichester, where a former co-worker came to the rescue of a woman who was about at the end of her rope, about to be booted from the motel where she was staying with her kids after a fire.

With all the negative things that we need to report every day, it reaffirms the basic goodness in people.

Sometimes we tend to overlook that.

You can read our editorial here.

Follow the Eagles on the West Coast all week with Bob Grotz

Because we know you can't wait to read every morsel about the Eagles as they prepare on the West Coast for a crucial game against the Rams Sunday, we've sent beat writer Bob Grotz to the West Coast for the week.

Make sure you read Bob's coverage all week. He was there for Doug Pederson's press conference to talk about that disappointing loss in Seattle.

You can get Bob's take on Doug Pederson's presser here.

And he also reports that key Carson Wentz target Zach Ertz remains in the NFL concussion protocol. The Eagles are hopeful he will be able to play Sunday.

Make sure you follow Bob's coverage all week, right up to Sunday's 4:25 kickoff in L.A. He'll try not to run in the 75-degree weather.