Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Echoes of Parkland in school safety

The echoes from Parkland, Fla., are continuing to rumble across the country.

Delaware County is certainly not immune.

Local school boards have been challenged to increase security and to be out front in telling students and parents what they are doing every day to safeguard them.

It is the question on the mind of every parent, every student, and every local school official. How do we keep out kids safe? It's a healthy discussion to have.

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

A toast to Heron's Bar

I did a little experiment in my Monday Letter From the Editor.

I included a reference to see if it would get a reaction from our loyal Delco readers.

It involved a fairly well-known watering hole in Philadelphia.

As it turns out, this tavern was just a few blocks away from Franklin Field on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, where the Eagles used to play their home games.

Several members of the team were regulars at the bar.

The name of this joint was Heron's. It was run by my Uncle Charles, my dad's brother, at 33rd and Market Streets.

Every summer my father would take his sons into the city for the day to take in a Phillies game at Connie Mack Stadium. But the first stop was always at Heron's Bar, where he would spend the afternoon visiting with his brother before we headed up to 21st and Lehigh in North Philly.

My father was in his glory sitting at that bar. He would have a cigarette in one hand, and a cold beer in the other. What I remember most about Heron's is the shuffleboard game that we played most of the afternoon, along with the best roast beef sandwiches I've ever eaten.

I wasn't alone in my memories.

Reader Dan Muff was one of several who distinctly remember Heron's. He used to work at a plant across the street and also was a regular.

The plant shut down when Drexel acquired the site - along with the site of Heron's - and converted them into a parking lot.

When they were getting ready to close the bar forever, they made up T-shirts to commemorate the place. Dan Muff had one, but says it has long since worn out.

If anyone still has one, I'd love to get my hands on one.

As I said in my column, dad has been gone now 41 years. His brother Charles actually died a few years before him. It's one of the only times I saw my father cry.

They had a rough childhood. Their parents died and the brothers - four of them - were split up and raised by different relatives.

I'm hoping that gene for an early demise was not handed down.

So far my siblings and I have been lucky.

We've all had our medical issues, but nothing that serious.

I'll raise a glass to that. Just wish I could do it at Heron's.

You can kiss February goodbye

Today is a very special day - at least for me.

It's the LAST day of February.

That means we are two-thirds through the slog of the worst 90 days of the year.

No, I'm not a fan of winter.

And yes, I realize this for the most part has been a fairly mild winter. Not all that much snow. One incredible cold blast that stung us for two weeks.

But today we will again push toward 60. I'll take it for the last day in February.

And they are watching a storm for the weekend, but it looks like it is going to involve wind and rain, not snow.

Want to know one of my favorite things about the Eagles wild playoff run that led to that most unexpected Super Bowl Championship? It helped get me through the grind of January.

With February now about to fade into the rear-view mirror, I'm beginning get the itch to get outside, even work in the yard.

Hell, at this point I'm even looking forward to mowing the grass again.

We'll hit Daylight Savings in a couple of weeks on Sunday, March 11.

Cross your fingers. We just might have survived another winter.

Now if we can just skirt one of those monster March storms.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The echoes of Parkland are getting louder.

A thumb's up today to state Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160.

The longtime representative from Upper Chichester has had a change of heart of sorts on a gun bill in the House.

Last week Barrar said he will now co-sponsor House Bill 1400, sponsored by fellow Delco Rep. Jamie Santora, R-163, something he had opposed in the past.

House Bill 1400 will beef up background check laws in Pa., as well as closing several loopholes in the state law.

Barrar said he was inundated with calls and emails after the latest mass shooting school incident in Parkland, Fla. He's also offering several amendments to make the bill better.

It's one more sign that the echoes from Parkland are not going away.

They are growing louder.

It's on our editorial page.

The power of sports to bond generations

It is one of the glories of sports.

The passion that is handed down from fathers to sons.

I wrote about that in my Monday print column.

Yesterday several readers reached out to share similar feelings.

One told me he also thought of his dad as the Super Bowl ended. He lost him to pancreatic cancer in 2002.

"Maybe he watched the game from heaven," he wrote me.

I don't doubt it for a second.

A few minutes after the Super Bowl ended, I fielded a phone call that only confirmed my belief in the bonding power of sports. It was from my son, who now lives outside Washington, D.C.

He was beside himself.

Yes, sports does that to us.

It just might be what I love most about it.

So how 'bout those Flyers!

They beat the Canadiens in a shootout, 1-0, getting a shutout from newly acquired goaltender Petr Mrazek.

The win vaulted them into first place in the Metropolitan Division. They have now won six straight and have not lost since the Eagles posted that Super Bowl victory.

Perhaps the most loyal fans in sports, those who live and die with the orange and black, have been waiting almost as long as Eagles fans for another Stanley Cup. The Flyers won back-to-back Cups with the Broad Street Bullies back in the '73-'74 and '74-'76 seasons, and have not won since.

Maybe this is the year they come out of the blue to win a Cup.

Stranger things have happened.

We just witnessed it with the Eagles.

I think dad would understand.

A close call

I had another brush with a recurring nightmare this morning.

First things first. I drive to work very early in the morning. In the dark. It has its pluses - and its minuses.

The best thing - unquestionably - is that you for the most part have the road to yourself.

The bad part is that you have the road to yourself.

Almost.

This is not about deer.

This is about humans.

Every morning I usually see the same two people jogging in the pre-dawn darkness.

These are dedicated folks. They are out there every morning.

I see the first jogger - not sure if it's a man or woman - working the side of the road on Route 352 in Middletown.

Thankfully, they usually wear reflective gear and even have a hat with a light on it so I can see them coming.

The second is a guy I usually encounter on Providence Road in Nether Providence closer to the office. Same thing. He has all the reflective gear as he completes his morning workout.

I need to remind myself in my usual early morning fog that I don't have the road to myself. My concern is not the four-legged kind - yes, I dodge deer just about every morning. Yesterday I had a particularly close call with Bambi in the fog.

That was nothing compared to what happened this morning.

My morning jogger friend on Providence Road must have gotten an earlier start.

Because I encountered him on Rose Valley Road as I approached Providence.

"Encountered" doesn't quite describe it.

I glanced up at the road and he was suddenly right in front of me - or so it seemed to me. He was jogging on the side of the road and coming at me, not in the opposite lane. I jerked the steering wheel to the left.

My apologies to this morning jogger. I was not really trying to run you down, even if it might have appeared that way.

I was just trying to complete another morning commute.

Maybe one of these days I will stop and say hello.

And offer an apology for this morning's close all.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The purpose of the AR-15

I don't own a gun.

I have not held a gun since I put down my BB-Gun as a kid.

That is one of the reasons I am usually reluctant to get drawn into the gun control debate.

But we're way past that point now.

If Columbine and Sandy Hook did not change us, then Parkland just might.

The debate continues over how to stop these kinds of mass gun shootings.

Young people are mobilizing and making their voices heard. They are planning a walkout on March 14 on the one-month anniversary of the shooting that took 17 lives in Parkland, Fla. And they are making plans for a massive march on Washington, D.C., for March 24.

But nothing I have read or heard has moved me in quite the way as something I recently read on this topic. Unlike me, Dr. John Nagl is very familiar with guns, in particular the AR-15 semi-automatic weapon that now seems to be the weapon of choice in these mass attacks.

Nagl used a very similar rifle, an M-16, himself during his tour of duty in Iraq.

Nagl, a West Point grad who retired from the U.S.Army, is now headmaster of the Haverford School.

He knows the purpose of the AR-15 - to kill people as rapidly as possible.

He talks about something that is not often talked about - the damage inflicted by a bullet fired from an AR-15.

Nagl has a simple way of changing the nation's mood when it comes to these killing machines.

He believes we should see - up close and personal - the damage they inflict.

He believes people like me should publish the photos of the children killed by these weapons.

Nagl believes our children are no longer safe in schools, and it's our own fault.

It might be the most powerful thing I've ever read on this issue.

You can read it here.

Of fathers and sons, and sports

It's amazing the things that run through your head when a big moment arrives.

Take winning a Super Bowl, for instance.

I'd be lying if I told you that the entire time I was watching the Eagles' thrilling win over the Patriots, I was thinking of my father.

But it was not until a couple of weeks later - on the 41st anniversary of his death - that it really hit me.

I could not believe four decades had past since that fateful day.

No one loved Philly sports more than my dad.

The only he loved more was the horses. Yes, my father was fond of the ponies. He is the reason I know how to read The Racing Form. And he is still the only man I know who took a week's vacation so he could work the parimutel window at Delaware Park.

But my father did not wear his fandom on his sleeve, like so many Philly fans.

He did so in his inimitable, reserved way.

After all, we did not call him The Quiet Man for nothing.

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

Your early morning report from the roads: Fog Alert!

Here's the word for your morning commute: Fog.

There are patches of dense fog out there. It all depends on where you are. It's clear in some spots and London-like pea soup in others.

Good news is that it continues to be fairly mild. It's 43 degrees out there right now. We're expecting to see some sun finally after a really wet, miserable weekend. And then the sun will be out in full force tomorrow.

Clearing and high of 53 later today.

Get the full forecast here.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Reverberations from Parkland roll across Delco

The reverberations from Parkland, Fla., are starting to roll across Delaware County.

Students at several local high schools are planning to take part in a walkout March 14 - the one-month anniversary of the latest mass shooting, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School outside Fort Lauderdale.

One of the schools taking part is Penncrest High School.

We have all the details here.

Young people in the county also are making plans to join student from all across the nation in a massive Youth March on Washington, D.C. on Marcy 24.

They are raising their voices in seeking changes in gun laws after the shooting inside the Florida high school that left 17 people dead.

Map Quest: The never-ending debate

Don't set your heart on that new 5th Congressional District that would put all of Delaware County under one Congressional roof just yet.

As they vowed they would, Republican leaders are going to court in an attempt to block the map that was put in place by the state Supreme Court earlier this week.

The GOP wants the U.S. high court to put the brakes on the plan while they take their challenge back into federal courts. No word from the U.S. Supreme Court yet.

What Republicans are arguing is that the state court violated the Pa. constitution by usurping a role that is given to the Legislature, namely drawing up these maps.

In the meantime, next week candidates are supposed to start gathering signatures on their nominating petitions, something that has already been delayed by the tussle over the new maps.

All of this is just one more reason why politicians should not be doing this at all. That means Democrats and Republicans. Judges, too.

We explain it on our editorial page.

The Jason Kelce Effect: Did he speak to Drexel, too?

Call it the Jason Kelce Effect.

Suddenly, Philly teams can't lose.

Since the Eagles won the Super Bowl, the Flyers are Sixers are a combined 14-0-1. The Flyers have won four straight. Last night they rallied with two third-period goals to beat Columbus in South Philly.

Meanwhile, the Sixers were out in Milwaukee. They struggled, but got two late free throws from Ben Simmons to seal the win.

That's six straight wins for the 76ers.

Simmons had a career-high 32 points; Joel Embiid knocked down 30 points and 13 rebounds.

And yet, none of this was the highlight of the night.

Didn't come from the Olympics either.

So what was the top highlight? Would you believe Drexel? Well, you might now believe what they did.

They set an NCAA men's hoops record.

They trailed Delaware 53-19 at one point in last night's game. That's 34 points down.

And they rallied for the win.

It's the largest deficit ever overcome in NCAA Division 1 men's basketball.

Did Jason Kelce speak to them, too?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Young voices sparking change

This is beginning to feel different.

And it's the voices of young people who are making it so.

In an extraordinary hour, victims of the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting sat with President Trump yesterday and talked about their experience in the wake of the nation's latest mass school shooting.

They told him they wanted action on gun laws.

The reverberations rang out across the nation.

Back in Florida, their fellow classmates were storming the Legislature, which just the day before had rejected a new push for tougher gun laws.

Here at home, Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood was making headlines with his call for putting guns into some classrooms, having volunteer teachers and staff trained to carry concealed weapons.

It's an idea the president would push later in the day.

But make no mistake, it is the young people who are pushing this movement.

They are a throwback to their grandparents in the 1960's.

It's on our editorial page.

Another Miracle on Ice

Feb. 22.

There must be something about the date.

It was 38 years ago that the U.S. men's Olympic ice hockey team - a bunch of college kids and amateurs - stunned the world by upending the vaunted squad from the Soviet Union. They were considered the best hockey team in the universe. As their coach Herb Brooks famously said, if they had played 10 times, the Soviets would have won nine of them.

But not that night.

It was considered the "Miracle on Ice."

Exactly 38 years later, the U.S. Women last night upset the highly favored Canadian women to take the gold.

Maddie Rooney, the USA's 20-year-old goaltender, stuffed a Canadian woman to seal the win and set off a wild celebration in South Korea.

Canada was looking for its fifth straight Olympic gold medal. They had won 24 straight games in Olympic competition, dating back to the last time the USA women won, in the initial women's competition in Nagano in 1998.

USA!

A championship for the Quiet Man

41 years.

Feb. 21, 1977

I still can't believe it.

The email from my sister, the keeper of the special dates in our family, on Wednesday did not come as a surprise.

But her notation of just how long it has been since our father died did.

It was more than four decades ago when a woman popped her head into a class at the University of Colorado at Boulder and asked the professor, "Is there a Philip Heron in this class?"

You just know that means bad news.

I was told that I needed to call my brother in Littleton, a suburb south of Denver.

That's when I learned that dad had suffered a heart attack and was not in good shape.

We needed to fly home.

First, I had to get to the airport. I rushed back to my apartment. Luckily, I ran into a friend along the way who agreed to drive me to the airport.

For the most part, my older brother and I sat in stone silence for the three-hour flight.

"Well, if he survives this, he will really have survived something," my brother said. It was the only sentence I remember either one of us speaking.

We were met at the airport by a family member, and one look at his face told me the news was not good.

We drove out to the hospital in Jennersville, where the family had gathered.

It was pretty much a formality. I think they were just waiting for us to get there.

The truth is, I think dad was gone before he hit the floor.

He had stopped in at the store in Oxford before heading to his job as a police officer at Lincoln University. Mom said he mentioned that he did not feel well.

She said she had just made a fresh pot of coffee and that she would get him a cup.

She turned to get the coffee and then heard the thud of dad hitting the floor.

Gone far too young.

My father earned the nickname "The Quiet Man." Yes, he was a man of few words. It is a trait he passed along to his son. Yes, I write and edit words for a living. But in private, I often don't have much to say. Just ask my wife. She's spent the last 35 years pulling conversation out of me with pliers.

Dad never met my wife.

41 years.

Amazing the things that happen over the course of time, none of which dad ever witnessed.

A Super Bowl championship, for example.

Dad always talked about that 1960 team that beat the Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers. His eyes sparkled at the very thought.

Dad died in 1977, 17 years after 'Concrete Charlie' Chuck Bednarik sat on Jim Taylor as time expired in the NFL championship game. I had to wait another 41 years to see the Eagles win another championship.

And I'd be lying if I did not admit that the first thing I thought of after the Eagles won was my father.

I know how much he would have enjoyed this run by a team nobody expected to win. Of course, he would have enjoyed it in a far different manner than we did today. He likely would have been listening on the radio. He always enjoyed his sports that way, as opposed to the TV his kids were always glued to.

"I can see the game better on the radio," he would always say.

41 years.

This one was for you, Quiet Man.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Great Pa. Redistricting Debate rages on

The fallout continues from the Great Pennsylvania Redistricting Debate.

Say this about Pennsylvania: We can't figure out our state budget or the sale of booze, but we don't mess around when it comes to drawing new Congressional maps.

Of course, when it comes to matters of politics - especially in Pennsylvania - everyone has their own ax to grind.

That's why it's not terribly surprising to see the reaction to the new Congressional map issued by the state Supreme Court Monday,. Some people are happy, some are angry, and some are livid.

State Republicans are not thrilled with the handiwork of the state's high court.

Here's a stunning revelation. The high court just happens to be a 5-2 Democratic majority. Did you think Republicans were not going to notice. They believe the justices are guilty of a constitutional overreach, basically usurping a role that the state constitution reserves for the Legislature. They're vowing to be in court today to challenge the map issued by the court.

Here in Delaware County, Republican GOP Chairman Andy Reilly is not thrilled about the flip-flop that took place in the eastern end of what is now going to be the 5th District. In addition to including all of Delaware County in one district, the justices added a chunk of South Philadelphia to the Delco turf. It's kind of the opposite of the old map, where a sliver of Delaware County, along the river and including the city of Chester, was cut out of the 7th District and handed over to Rep. Bob Brady. Get those details here.

Reilly knows numbers. He sees all those Democratic votes in Philadelphia and sees a 'lopsided' map now tilted in favor or Democrats. The Dems, while relishing having the entire county now under one roof - one that now has a majority Democratic voter registration edge - might have problems of their own.

And again it has to do with that chunk of the 5th sitting in Philly. Now all those Democrats who were lining up to see the 1st District seat - especially in light of Brady's decision not to run - have to figure out whether they want to challenge one of the incumbents in the city's other two remaining districts, or take their chances in the 5th. That could bring them into conflict with Delco Dems, who want one of their own to represent the district that for the most part Delaware County turf. Get those details here.

Finally there is the one person who might be angrier than anyone about the way the new maps shook out.

That would be Chester County Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6. His district is still there, but it's not the same one he serves now in terms of geography. Specifically, it has now been extended all the way out into Berks County and Reading, which is full of Democratic voters. Costello is not amused. Yesterday he took dead aim at Gov. Wolf and the Democratic justices, saying they 'colluded' on the new map in a 'corrupt' process and suggesting the judges be impeached. His side of the story is here.

Finally, on our editorial page, we talk about the new map. It's clear that this a huge improvement over the disastrous redistricting plan done by Republicans who control the Legislature back in 2011. That piece of work gave us the immortal "Goofy Kicking Donald Duck" version of the 7th District.

That's now gone. The complaining is not.

I'm shocked.

Read the editorial here.

How does a high of 77 sound?

No, the Phillies have not moved their spring training practices to Swarthmore.

At least I don't think they have.

And we haven't relocated to South Florida, although I might not oppose such a move.

But forgive me for being confused when I walked out the door this morning.

Where am I?

Yes, we're going to enjoy another time-warp of a weather day today.

Think mid-May.

After burning off a little morning fog, temperatures will soar into the mid-70s.

Today's record high temperature is 72 set in 1930. We'll roar past that, with a high of 77 expected. That's right, we're headed to the upper 70s. The normal high for this date is 44. That means we will be 37 degrees warmer than normal today.

Don't get used to it. More normal temperatures return to the region, along with several days of rain, starting Thursday.

Get the full forecast here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Delco takes the 5th

For weeks now voters in the 7th Congressional district have known that they would have a new representative in Washington, D.C.

That's because incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, decided not to seek re-election after becoming mired in the fallout from using taxpayer money to settle a sex harassment complaint filed by a former staffer.

What voters didn't realize is that they also would be saying goodbye to the 7th District altogether.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Monday released the much-awaited new map of the state's Congressional districts in the wake of court rulings that the 2011 redistricting was unconstitutional because of partisan gerrymandering.

The 7th District - at least as far as Delaware County is concerned - is now gone. Kicked all the way up to Bucks County. Delaware County now will reside in the 5th District.

One of the biggest complaints about the 2011 redistricting process was that it split so many counties, spitting in the face of the constitutional mandate that districts be "compact and contiguous" whenever possible.

In this new plan, many of those splits are remedied. For the most part, each suburban county now has its own district, although the new numbering of the districts is wildly different than the past.

The number of split districts under this plan is slashed to just 13; back in 2011 that number was 28.

Earlier fears spurred by a map set up by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf that left Delco on the outside looking in - without its own district - did not pan out.

The high court has placed all of Delaware County in the 5th, along with a sliver of Montgomery County on the Main Line, and a chunk of southwest and South Philly.

The interesting part about the Philly section is that it basically flips the representation of what had been the 1st District turf of Dem power broker U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, D-1.

The 1st extended out into Delaware County in a sliver that basically followed the Delaware River and included the city of Chester.

In effect, folks in Delco who resided in the 1st always basically played second fiddle to the people who lived in the city. That situation is now reversed. The Philly folks will most likely be represented by someone from Delaware County. No doubt the fact the Brady, who also is the city's Democratic Party chairman, is not seeking re-election played a part in that process.

As far as Delco is concerned, the key factor is that the entire county is now included in one district. The people in Chadds Ford will vote for the same representative as the people in Chester, Upper Darby and Haverford.

The high court wants this map to be in place for the primary election on May 15. Candidates can start to gather signatures on their petitions in a few days.

For weeks now they have wondered what the district boundaries were going to look like.

Now they know.

But Republicans are vowing to mount a new legal challenge the the court's map, saying that one gerrymander has been replaced by another, claiming that the 5-2 Democratic majority on the court has overstepped its bounds, taking on duties that the state Constitution reserves for the Legislature.

At least the "Goofy Kicking Donald Duck" shape of the 7th District, which bent the district into two distinct land masses that touched parts of five different suburban counties, has been kicked to the curb.

Whether or not this actually holds up, well, we'll leave that to the lawyers.

Most of the experts who have weighed in are predicting the court's map will pave the way for Democratic gains in Congress. Right now Republicans hold 13 of Pennsylvania's 18 seats in Congress.

That likely will change. And battles for this new 5th District seat, along with the Sixth District seat held by Republican Rep. Ryan Costello in Chester County, will be in the forefront.

Brace yourself. The eyes of the nation will be riveted on these congressional battles.

And the children will lead them

President Trump may have finally met his match - at least on Twitter.

He should have talked to me before unloading his thoughts on his favorite social media platform over the weekend about the FBI's continued focus on the Russia investigation. At one point the commander-in-chief said it may have contributed to why the FBI overlooked a tip report of a threat made by the teen who went on that deadly rampage at a Florida high school.

That did not sit well with many of those students who lived through the horror.

We often point out the foibles of young people. I worry about them as well, and the amount of time they spend on their phones and online.

But that is precisely why I would not pick a fight with them on social media. It is their element.

The reaction to President Trump's Twitter stream was fairly predictable. Kids - and a lot of other - were outraged.

In fact, it just might be the kids - the ones who are actually being shot at in these schools - who provide the impetus for the change so many in this country are demanding.

Students are now leading the charge - they held a "die-in" protest outside the White House yesterday and are planning a massive march on D.C. in March.

The call is the same from all corners. They want change in the nation's gun laws.

Even President Trump yesterday indicated he would support a move to bolster background checks.

It's on our editorial page.

Record high temps on the way

It's going to look and feel a little bit like London out there this morning.

Yes, we have some wet weather and dense patches of fog.

But that's not the big weather story today.

Later it's going to feel like May instead of mid-February. No, we haven't decided to run away to Phillies spring training in Clearwater.

But temperatures are going to threaten the record of 71 this afternoon.

And tomorrow is going to be even warmer, with more sun. High tomorrow could hit the mid-70s, which would also shatter the record high for the day.

The record high for today is 70 set back in 1939.

Tomorrow's record high is 72 set in 1930.

The normal temperature for both days is 43 today and 44 Tuesday.

Where did I put my flip-flops?

Get the full forecast here.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Congressional maps: Will Delco get the short straw?

For years - actually since 2011 - Democrats have been raising holy hell about the blatant partisanship demonstrated by their Republican colleagues in redrawing the state's Congressional maps.

It's called gerrymandering - stacking the deck to favor your side.

The state's congressional map is redrawn every 10 years based on the results of the latest census.

This year judges agreed with that claim, ruling that, yes, the maps were partisan, and they favored Republicans.

Democrats, including those here in Delaware County, rejoiced.

They have been on the upswing. Buoyed by their newfound edge in voter registration, and a general anti-Trump turnout, they posted serious gains in the November election, capturing the two contested seats on Delaware County Council as well as all three county row offices up for grabs.

Then they set their sights on the 2018 mid-terms, targeting local Republican incumbent congressmen.

Nowhere was that more evident than in the 7th District, which just happens to be Exhibit A when it comes to the wonders of gerrymandering. What was once a district that basically covered the bulk of Delaware County was twisted and contorted into a bizarre shape. The two large chunks actually touched five different suburban counties. It made what was once a tossup district into solid red turf, the comfy home of incumbent Republican Congressman U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan.

After winning office in 2010, Meehan routinely rolled up huge margins in three successive re-election victories, raking in 60 percent of the vote.

This time around it was expected that Meehan would face a sterner test, in part because of the anti-Trump backlash, as well as very unpopular moves to roll back the Affordable Care Act and the Republican tax cut package.

Then the 7th was shaken by the blockbuster story of Meehan using taxpayer dollars to settle a sex harassment claim by a former staffer. Meehan indicated he would not seek re-election.

Democrats suddenly looked like the Cheshire cat as they eyed the prize of the 7th District.

So you can imagine their dismay when they got a look at some of the versions of the new maps ordered by state Supreme Court in tossing out the old, gerrymandered versions.

Delco Democrats very possibly have won the battle, while losing the war.

The new maps look like they stake out a congressional district for each suburban county.

Except for one.

Want to take a guess?

Yep, that would be right here in Delco.

The new map shift most of the 7th District into Montgomery County. Delco would be covered by about equal parts in the 6th District, held by Rep. Ryan Costello, and the 1st, which will be up for grabs because Dem powerbroker and longtime 1st District Congressman Bob Brady also is not seeking re-election.

What's even more bizarre is who is behind this slap in the face to Delco voters.

Et tu, Gov. Wolf?

That's right. This is not the handiwork of Republicans, but rather the version submitted to the court by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

The state Supreme Court is expected to issue the version of a new political map today.

Delaware County Democrats should brace themselves.

They may find themselves on the outside looking in.

And this time they have no one but other Democrats to blame.

How do we stop the bullets?

I have to admit that I knew it was coming.

There are three topics guaranteed to spark an intense debate.

Race and Religion are two of them.

Guns is the third.

I went after guns in Sunday's editorial. You can read it here.

It was a plea for something more than the requisite calls for "thoughts and prayers" after the latest mass shooting, this time costing 17 lives in Parkland, Fla.

The editorial is the newspaper's position.

Here's mine.

Save your breath arguing that this is the first move toward taking away your Second Amendment rights - or your guns.

It's not going to happen - nor should it.

Yes, that right is guaranteed by the Constitution.

But that does not mean it cannot be limited.

Even one of the staunches conservatives ever to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia, admitted as much.

Here's where I'm at.

The AR-15 semi-automatic weapon, the same one used in Florida, has to go.

It has no reasonable purpose, outside the battle field. Other than to kill people.

What this mentally troubled kid was doing with one is almost beyond comprehension. Right after you come to grips that while he could not legally buy a drink in a lot of states, he could - and did - buy an AR-15.

Would he have gotten another kind of gun or perhaps made a bomb and went to the school anyhow? Possibly. But he would not have killed with anywhere near the ease he did in firing off 150 shots in a matter of minutes.

We have limitations on lots of privileges, the ability to drive a car for one. It's time for some reasonable limitations on gun ownership.

Sunday's editorial set off a huge response online. I kind of figured it would. Most of the responses were reasonable. A few, naturally, could not resist stooping to the lowest common denominator. It goes with the territory. A few readers asked why I do not block such comments. That's not where I'm at. You'll wait a long time before you see me become a censor. These people's comments speak for themselves.

But I did find one suggestion - one that I have long opposed - begin to take on new meaning.

That was a call to have armed kids in schools.

That does not mean arming all teachers. But perhaps it's time for an armed security force patrolling schools.

Is that my wish? No. But that is reality.

That or we continue to bury our children.

I guess this blog item will kick off a whole new round of debate today.

Well, let's have at it.

As I said in the editorial, "thoughts and prayers" are nice, but they do not stop bullets.

And right now, I'm not sure anything else matters.

Johnny & Me

I'm still trying to wrap my head around how long it took me to make the connection I have with Johnny Weir.

He's the former Olympic men's figure skater and how one of the best analysts in the business, teaming with another former Olympic medalist, Tara Lipinski.

I knew that Johnny had local connections, with the usual references being to growing up in Coatesville in Chester County, along with Quarryville in Lancaster County, and training at the University of Delaware.

But it literally was not until I saw his family a few years back on the "Today" show that it finally clicked.

I was literally staring at the TV when I blurted out, 'That's Patti Moore.'

That would be Johnny's mother.

That's when it finally hit me. Patti married John Weir. We all grew up together and went to high school together out in Oxford.

Johnny Weir was their son.

Some days, you just have to love the way life works.

Go, Johnny, Go!

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

Friday, February 16, 2018

The great gerrymandering debate

It's Friday morning - do you know what Congressional district you live in?

Relax, it's fairly like you still reside in either the 7th or the 1st Districts.

But those who live on the margins of the grotesquely gerrymandered 7th District very likely could find themselves in a new district.

The court-imposed deadline for Pa. to submit new Congressional maps after the old ones - created in the redistricting process back in 2011 and which was tossed as being unconstitutionally gerrymandered - was last night.

Now everyone is getting into the act.

Republicans in the state Legislature submitted a new map last Friday. That was rejected by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. Now both the governor and Democrats in the state Senate also have come up with maps, as well as a new group of Republican activists.

It's very likely going to be up to the state Supreme Court to figure this mess out.

You can get the latest update here.

Snow & 70s in the same forecast

Like those mild temperatures out there this morning? You ain't seen nothing yet.

I almost had to check the calendar when I walked out of the house.

It's one of those 'ahhhhhh' moments when you open the door and are not confronted with another miserably cold early morning.v But this is nothing compared to what is coming next week. They're actually talking about 70s.

Unfortunately, sandwiched in between there is going to be another bout of snow this weekend.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm advisory for the region from 7 p.m. Saturday through Sunday morning.

Don't panic. This is not a monster storm. We're likely only going to get a inch or two, with more promised in the infamous 'northern and western suburbs.'

But by Sunday morning it will already start to taper off and traveling on the roads should not be a problem.

Then we can brace for a little bit of spring come Tuesday and Wednesday. Highs in the 70s are in the forecast.

For today, we'll have clouds and on-again, off-again rain, but with a mild high of 56. Tomorrow will be cooler, with snow moving into the region about 7 p.m.

Get the full forecast here.

An 'alarming' trend from Phils' new skipper

Gabe Kapler might be on to something.

The new Phillies skipper has already faced a bit of scrutiny because of his somewhat unorthodox training and fitness methods.

This guy doesn't look like most managers. He's cut - the result of lots of time in the weight room. Yep, he's right in there with his players.

Some of the stuff Kapler espouses seems over the top.

But I have to admit I was intrigued by one thing he has already introduced as the Phillies kick off their training camp once again in beautiful, sunny Clearwater.

Kapler has pushed back the start of the Phillies morning workouts.

And you know why?

He doesn't want players to have to wake up to the rude jolt of an alarm clock.

Instead Kapler believes the body should get you up when it feels right.

The guy never would have survived under the nuns who drilled us every morning at 8 a.m.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thoughts and prayers are no longer enough

Spare me the thoughts and prayers, OK.

That does not mean my heart does not ache for one more slaughter of the innocents.

It means I am tired of hearing about these mass shootings. I'm tired of reporting them. I'm tired of counting the dead and wounded.

All while waiting for something to be done.

Because the truth is nothing is going to be done. Nothing is going to change.

It's clear we do not have the moral fiber to stop this carnage.

If Newtown taught us anything, it should have been that.

A troubled young man with access to guns calmly walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and opened fire. Before he took his own life (and you won't get his name here), he killed 20 innocent children.

Kids.

They were 6 or 7 years old.

He also killed six adult staff members.

That was 2012, five years ago.

We offered "thoughts and prayers" then, too.

And did nothing.

Then came San Bernardino. And Orlando. And Las Vegas.

Wednesday, a kid described as "troubled teenager" who had been posting disturbing thoughts on his social media feeds joined the list of this nation's mass shooting villains.

He entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., outside Fort Lauderdale, equipped with a gas mask, smoke grenades, a semi-automatic weapon and multiple magazines of ammo, and unleashed his fury.

Seventeen dead, several dozen injured.

The suspect, who had been expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons, is now in custody.

Since 1997, when three students were gunned down and five wounded at a high school in West Paducah, Ky., there have been no less than a dozen mass school shootings.

It's been 18 years since two teens killed 12 classmates at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

And still we do nothing.

I am not going to argue why this kid in Florida had access to a gun. Or why any private citizens should need such a weapon. Or what kind of background check he - or whoever purchased it - had to go through to acquire it.

Because nothing is going to change.

We've proved that - again and again.

Instead I will simply wait.

For the next time.

We all know it is coming.

And we all know what will happen afterward.

Thoughts and prayers.

Another win for pipeline foes - & 2-party rule

Rack another victory for the foes of the Mariner East 2 pipeline project.

And, in a way, a huge step for two-party rule here in Delaware County.

Yesterday, Delaware County Council voted 3-1 to seek bids for a risk assessment study on the massive, $2.5 billion project of Sunoco Pipeline. When it's up and running, the company plans to deliver as many as 250,000 barrels a day of ethane, butane, and propane liquid gases across the entire width of Pennsylvania, from the Marcellus Shale regions, to a distribution center at the site of Sunoco's former refinery in Marcus Hook.

Opponents don't think this is an especially good idea, citing the potential for dangers, including a route that takes the pipeline through densely populated neighborhoods, literally right past schools and senior centers.

Unions, lots of elected officials, the chamber of commerce all support the potential economic benefits of the pipeline, including hundreds of good-paying, family-sustaining jobs. Sunoco insists the pipeline is being constructed - and will be operated - to the highest standards in the industry.

But the state Department of Environmental Protection shut down all construction on the project for more than a month after finding persistent, "egregious" problems during construction, as well as one incident where the company was found to be using a controversial technique known as Horizontal Directional Drilling in an area where it was not permitted to do so.

Last week it was announced Sunoco Pipeline would pay a $12 million fine; in return the state lifted the ban on construction. Opponents clearly are not satisfied.

Earlier this week officials out in Uwchlan Township in Chester County announced they would enforce their local zoning laws in an attempt to halt construction.

The 350-mile pipeline will traverse about 25 miles across the heart of the center Chester County, as well as another 11 miles across western Delaware County as it snakes its way toward Marcus Hook. The path is basically contiguous to Mariner East 1, Sunoco's old original oil pipeline, which has been retrofitted and is already delivering much of the same materials across the region.

Here in Delaware County, critics have been showing up at County Council meetings for the last month, pushing officials to do a risk assessment study.

Council had given an initial OK several weeks ago, before getting bogged down in the details of the study, as well as a little politics.

Remember, this is a new era of government at the Media Courthouse. After their victories at the polls in November, two Democrats now sit on the county's ruling body, something that has not happened since the mid-'70's.

Amazing what a little bipartisan rule will do.

Wednesday the citizens who oppose the pipeline got their wish.

Republican Council Vice Chairman Colleen Morrone joined Democrats Brian Zidek and Kevin Madden in approving the move to seek bids for the study. Republican Michael Culp voted against. Council Chairman John McBlain abstained, noting he did not want there to be any appearance of a conflict since his law firm has done some work for Sunoco Pipeline, although McBlain himself has not.

Now Council very well may have signed off on the risk assessment study without those two Democrats sitting at the table. But I kind of doubt it.

Then again, Morrone lives in Concodrd, near the heart of much of the unrest centering on the pipeline. A grassroots organization, Middletown Coalition for Community Safety, has been holding rallies and protesting the pipeline for more than a year.

I still think the pipeline is going to happen. It's too far along and there is too much money at stake to stop this thing now.

But I've been wrong before. And make no mistake, those who oppose it are not going to go away.

Having said that, I think the risk assessment study is a good thing.

And the process used by Delaware County Council to approve it is even better.

Two-party rule.

What a concept.

Pa. enters the medical marijuana era - it's about time

Let's cut through the haze when it comes to medical marijuana.

No, we're not going to cue up any old scenes from "Reefer Madness."

This isn't about any kind of Cheech & Chong induced euphoria.

This is about medicine.

Helping people - both adults and children - with serious pain and other medical maladies.

Today we get a preview of the first medical marijuana dispensary to open in the region. It's located on Lancaster Avenue out in Devon. Eventually, there will be two dispensaries here in Delaware County, in Upper Darby and Yeadon.

On our editorial page, we discuss why this is long over due - and the right thing to do.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A night in Chester

I spent last night in Chester.

I was invited by Butch Slaughter, who heads up the Chester Made initiative looking to light a spark under the renaissance taking root in the city, for a panel discussion on "Media in Chester." We gathered in the MJ Freed Theater on the Avenue of the State in the middle of the city's downtown.

I have to admit I was a tad apprehensive about the invitation.

Look, I know there are a lot of people who believe that a part of Chester's image problem is the way it is often portrayed in the pages of its daily newspaper. Yes, that would be the newspaper that I edit every day.

Of particular concern is the way - and the events - that land Chester on the front page.

I will be the first to tell you there is some truth is what our critics say.

At the same time, as I said last night, I always urge people to judge the newspaper and website in total.

How so? Take this test, which I actually did yesterday afternoon before heading down to the city.

Go to our website, DelcoTimes.com, type in the word Chester in the search engine. See what comes up.

You will see lots of community news. You will see the story we did last week on the new food initiative rolled out by Chester Eastside Ministry. You will lots of listings from our Friday religion pages. You will see several stories on the new Stormwater fee that is causing so much controversy in the city.

And yes, you will also see crime stories.

We had a great discussion about the media, Chester, and how the two intersect. I was joined on the panel by an old friend, and one of the best things that came out of an experiment we tried several years ago. We offered citizens the opportunity to write blogs. Stefan Roots took us up on the offer - and he's still going strong. You can read his Stefan Roots Blog here. It's always a good read.

Bill Nix once served on one of Community Advisory Panels. He's a lifelong Chester residents with a passion for his city.

And we got some fascinating perspectives from an outsider. Eric 'Brother Shomari' Grimes offered a great look at what sells when it comes to media, and what price we often are making for those decisions.

I thoroughly enjoyed the night.

And I'm looking forward to keeping the discussion going.

Thanks for the invite, Butch.

If you want to see the replay, it's available on the Chester Made Facebook page here.

This state rep's heart is taken

It's Valentine's Day.

The day for matters of the heart.

My friend state Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R-162, has that covered.

The Republican had been tinkering with the idea of running for the GOP nomination for the 7th District seat on Congress being vacated by Rep. Pat Meehan.

Turns out his heart wasn't in it. Instead he will seek re-election to the Legislature.

Actually, we now know his heart is somewhere else.

It belongs to Rachel Schwalm.

She's a legislative assistant in the office of state Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160, of Upper Chichester.

Miccarelli and Schwalm will tie the knot Saturday when they exchange vows Saturday at St. Rose of Lima Church in Eddystone. Happy Valentine's Day to Nick and Rachel!

Read all about their plans here.

Valentine's & Ash Wednesday: The combo plan

The calendar offers an odd convergence today.

It's Valentine's Day. And Ash Wednesday.

The day of romance and love. And the start of 40 days sacrifice, penance and self-reflection.

Geez, sounds kind of like marriage.

Just joking, my lovely bride.

She has put up with me - and the insane schedule I keep - for going on 35 years now. I'm hoping she does not kick my sorry behind to the curb for at least a few more years.

The truth is I have a lot of making up to do. A ton of things I missed or was torn away - all because of work.

I usually make Ash Wednesday resolutions. You know the old Baltimore Catechism routine. You give up something you like as part of the sacrifice of Lent.

Every year I do the same things. I try to cut down on cursing. That usually last about 45 minutes, tops.

I also give up my favorite food - potato chips. That's right. I'm a Herr's man from way back. That guy up on the billboard smiling with Mike Quick? Friend of mine. Yep, I went to high school with Ed Herr.

I have this bad habit of charging into the house at night, blowing right by my wife who has been sitting alone waiting patiently for me to arrive - late as usual - and making a beeline for the snack drawer, where I go immediately up to my elbow in a nice bag of Herr's ripple chips. Don't even bother to take off my coat.

This year I'm going to try something different.

No, I haven't lost my mind. I'm not planning to give up coffee. I was forced to do that for two days back in the summer when I endured a bout of kidney stones. I thought I was going to die - not from the stones. They passed without much problem. But the headache from caffeine withdrawal is probably the worst I've ever endured.

I even considered giving up social media and "unplugging," but work has a tendency to get into the way of that.

So instead I plan to work on achieving some level of balance in my life. I have for decades went overboard on work. It takes its toll - on a lot of things.

Time for that to change.

And what better time than Ash Wednesday, and the start of the Lenten season.

I just hope my better half has not had similar thoughts of combining the two days, and decided to tell me to "kiss my ash goodbye."

Hey, I write headlines for a living. It's an hold habit. Probably should give that one up for Lent as well.

Map Quest: It's business as usual in Pa.

A Wolf in sheep's clothing?

We'll see.

There is a potential political and constitutional showdown brewing in the state Capitol.

It's all about redistricting - basically the shape of the state's 18 Congressional districts.

The current maps got tossed out by the court, which found them to be a classic case of partisan gerrymandering, that being when politicians bend and twist the borders of a district to benefit their own party.

Our legislators - both Republican and Democrat - wouldn't do that, would they?

You bet they would.

Now it has to be fixed.

That's going to be easier said than done.

Republicans managed to beat a deadline late Friday when they submitted their plan to Gov. Tom Wolf, as ordered by the court. But Gov. Wolf Tuesday rejected the new GOP maps, saying they were just as 'gerrymandered as the ones that caused the problem in the first place.

Now the two sides are lobbing accusations at each other.

In other words, pretty much business as usual in Harrisburg.

You can get the latest details here.

In the meantime, the nation's eyes will soon be riveted on Delaware County and what promises to be one of the most high-profile - and expensive - Congressional races in the 2018 mid-terms.

That would be the battle for the 7th District seat being vacated by incumbent Republican Rep. Pat Meehan, who opted not to run again after being embroiled in controversy over the use of taxpayer money to settle a sex harassment complaint filed by a former staffer.

There is no shortage of people lined up seeking both parties nominations. Now all we need to know is what shape the district they are supposed to represent in D.C. will be.

It's on our editorial page.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

7th Heaven? Hardly

I fully expected to wake up this morning and see the smiling face of Clare Putnam Pozos on the front page of today's newspaper beside the headline, "She's the One."

That didn't happen.

Pozos quit her job as an assistant U.S. attorney in Philadelphia to seek the Republican nomination for the 7th District seat in Congress being vacated by incumbent Republican Pat Meehan.

That is not because the Delaware County GOP has soured on her. I still think she will be the GOP candidate.

The problem is no one is quite sure just what the 7th District is going to look like. It's at the heart of a redistricting dispute in which the state's Supreme Court has ordered the Legislature to redraw the maps. Republicans submitted their plan last Friday. Democrats still don't like it. Gov. Wolf has until Thursday to accept it and submit it to the court. If there is no plan, the court has indicated they will draw up one of their own - all in time for the May primary.

So last night the Delaware County Republican Party did not offer an endorsement. Instead they heard from a handful of candidates, including Pozos.

Here's why I think Pozos is the front-runner.

It's the year of the woman. The #MeToo movement has blown the lid off a longstanding problem among our elected representatives at just about every level. Our "representative" government is not nearly representative enough. Especially when it comes to women.

The sexual harassment saga is pushing a new political movement among women to get involved in the process. The 7th, which has rested comfortably in the hands of the GOP and Meehan since the last redistricting in 2011, already was going to be a much sterner test in the 2018 mid-terms. An anti-Trump push powered by women hit home last November, when Delco Democrats did something they have been talking about - but failing to do - for decades. They elected a person to Delaware County Council. Not only that, but they won both seats, as well as all three row offices up for grabs.

The anti-Trump movement in a county that bucked the state trend and voted for Hillary Clinton was expected to create problems for Meehan's re-election.

Then the incumbent had his own #MeeToo moment. Call it #MeehanToo.

Word broke that he used taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment claim of his own filed by a former staffer. While he was sitting on the Ethics Committee in judgment of others. He denied any wrongdoing, calling the payment a severance package. He did a series of disastrous interviews trying to explain his side of the story. The next day he indicated he would not seek re-election.

Several women are seeking the Democratic nomination.

I full expected the local Republicans - who did not get where they are by being deaf and dumb when it comes to what's in the political wind - to follow suit. That's where Pozos, who only announced her candidacy Saturday, comes in.

Then there is the shape of the 7th District itself. It is considered Exhibit A in the dangers of gerrymandering and redistricting. Its contorted shape - two large chunks of turf that are bent and twisted to include GOP strongholds - is so bad it is routinely mocked as "Goofy Kicking Donald Duck." The Republican version of a new 7th shows a much more contiguous district.

For now, everything is on hold until the shape of the 7th District is etched in stone.

Look for Pozos to carry the GOP banner, very likely against a woman leading the Democratic field.

In the meantime, on today's editorial page, we talk about what could wind up being the Year of the Woman in local politics.

Philly is on a serious roll

Don't look now, but something wild - & wonderful! - is happening in Philly sports.

Do you realize that since the Eagles won the Super Bowl a week ago vs. the Patriots, that no Philly pro sports team has lost?

The Flyers have won four straight. The Sixers have done the same, winning their fourth straight last night against the Knicks and getting a triple-double off the bench from T.J. McConnell. It's the first team in team history a bench player has ever thrown in a triple-double (that's double figures in points, assists and rebounds).

The Flyers scorched Vegas, 4-1, in a town where road teams have struggled all season. Tonight they host the Devils.

8-0. Now that's what I call a Philly Special.

It's enough to make an old, died-in-the-wool Philly sports fan wonder about the power of karma.

Phillies pitchers and catchers report for spring training later this week. Think they can go undefeated?

Yep, I'm old

Here's today's version of, 'Wow, Do I Feel Old!'

If you're of a, how should I say, certain age, you no doubt remember The Monkees.

They had a hit TV show in the '60's. Basically what they did was recruit some young guys to become part of a pop band. They had a string of hits, including "Last Train to Clarksville", "Pleasant Valley Sunday", and "Daydream Believer."

I can still remember their names: Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork.

Well, brace yourself.

Today is Peter Tork's birthday.

He's 76.

That's not a typo.

Peter Tork is 76.

Yep, I'm old.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Throwback Monday: For one day, print was king again

This one is personal.

I could not hide my smile last Monday.

Yes, it had something to do with the football game that was played the night before.

Maybe you've heard about it. They call it the Super Bowl.

The Eagles won it this year.

But that's only half the store.

What happened Monday was something that had me looking like the proverbial Cheshire cat all day.

I fielded one phone call, email, Tweet and Facebook post after another.

All these people were using the technology we swim in every day to find something of a throwback.

They all wanted to know where they could find a copy of that day's print edition of the newspaper.

It wasn't easy.

We printed thousands more copies of our special "Phinally!" front page celebrating the Eagles win.

And it wasn't enough.

For one day, print was king.

Again.

It's in my Monday Letter From the Editor.

My connection to Johnny Weir - & the Olympics

Now what do we do?

I'm usually a big Olympics buff, but I'm having trouble getting into it this year.

Call it a Super Bowl hangover. We're all still walking on air following the Eagles astounding Super Bowl win over the Patriots.

I'll probably settle into the Olympics this week.

Part of the reason is my wife. She has banned me from watching the ice skating. It's too nerve-racking for her, fearing the skaters will end up on their back side during one of their daring jumps.

She thinks I kind of wait for the spills. She might be right.

But there is another reason I look forward to the skating.

It gives me a chance to check in with an old friend.

Well, sort of.

I love Johnny Weir.

But not for the reason you might think.

Johnny teams with Tara Lipinski to form one of the best breaths of fresh air to come along in sports announcing in a long time. Both are former champion skaters. Both do not hold back when it comes to being critical of poor performance. And neither is a cheerleader for the USA.

None of which forms the reason for my joy every time I see Johnny's face.

That's because when I look at Johnny, I see his mom. He's a dead ringer for the girl I used to know as Patti Moore.

That's right, I have a connection with Johnny.

And that connection is none other than good old Oxford, Pa.

That's where his mom and dad grew up.

Me, too.

We went to school together.

The then Patti Moore and John Weir were a year or two behind me.

Actually, Patti and I knew each other long before I finally made it to Oxford High. Remember, I didn't attend public school until the day I walked into Oxford High. For eight years I got on a bus and traveled 10 miles down old Route 1 to Assumption BVM School in West Grove.

But Patti's family and mine knew each other from church. Hell, we sat just a few pews away every Sunday at the old Sacred Heart Church.

The truth is I still knew most of the kids in town because I worked most days after school at my parents' store, just a block down the street from the high school.

The Moore's lived just a few blocks away.

I played football with Patti's brother Mark. And her future husband, John. That's right. Johnny Weir's dad was a football player, and a damn good lineman at that.

Every time I see Johnny on TV, it's like a trip home - and to my childhood all those long years ago in Oxford.

Oddly enough, I drove through town this weekend on my way to visit my kids in Washington, D.C. I always like to go through town on my way to pick up I-95.

I always make a visit to the cemetery, and drive down Wheeler Boulevard past our old house. And finally I drive by the corner where Heron's was down the street from the high school.

I think back fondly of those days. Life was a lot simpler back then.

As always, thanks for the memories, Johnny!

The thrill of watching it - again & again!

I have now watched the Eagles' win over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots two more times.

I can't get enough.

Yes, I know exactly what happens.

I know when the 'Philly Special' is coming.

I'm still not sure if Corey Clement got both feet down.

I have no idea what constitutes a catch, but I know that Zach Ertz tumbled into the end zone, breaking the plane of the goal line in the process.

And I again begged for someone on the defense to make a play, seconds before Brandon Graham managed to knock that ball out of the hands of Brady, thus nearly sealing the deal for the Birds.

And yes, I still had a few twinges in the pit of my stomach when Brady launched that final desperation 'Hail Mary in the vicinity of Rob Gronkowski in the end zone, finally exhaling once again when it again bounced off the turf.

I'll be honest, there is a part of me who has been disappointed so many times in the past who was fully expecting Gronk to haul in that pass on one of the replays.

I first watched the DVR of the game when I got home Friday night.

Then, after driving home from a visit with the kids Saturday in D.C., I was trying to figure out what to do on a thoroughly miserable, wet Sunday. (Hey, I'll take it over snow any day!).

So I flipped on the game again, starting with the second half kickoff.

I can't tell you how many times I might wind up watching the replay.

I'm setting the over-under at five.

And I'm taking the over.

Super Bowl Champions!

Still can't believe it.

Friday, February 9, 2018

A very special day in Philly sports history

Wow! Just Wow!

I would have loved to have been down on the Parkway yesterday. As usual, work intervened.

That doesn't mean what happened this week means any less.

I have been trying now for several days to get my head around what happened Sunday night in Minneapolis, and then what happened here, especially Saturday in Philadelphia.

I tried to put my thoughts on this very special Eagles team and their run to a Super Bowl title into words.

They appear on today's editorial page.

I hope you agree.

A curious time for a major news announcement

I'm a newspaper editor.

I get paid to be cynical.

So I can admit it didn't take long for my eyebrows to go up yesterday morning when we got word that the state Department of Environmental Protection and Sunoco Pipeline had settled their differences.

First the details. Sunoco Pipeline will pay $12 million for the series of "egregious" problems that have plagued construction of the massive Mariner East 2 pipeline. The work has been marked by a number of spills and discharges, and in one instance out near Harrisburg the company got caught using its controversial Horizontal Directional Drilling technique in an area where it was not permitted to do so.

In return for forking over that cool $12 million, Sunoco Pipeline will get the green light to restart construction on the line, which for the most part has been shut down since the DEP halted work back on Jan. 3.

None of which is what I find suspicious.

It's the timing that I find just a bit convenient.

Gov. Wolf, DEP and the PUC have been under intense heat from residents and environmental groups for their handling of the Mariner East 2 project. Residents continue to ask both the state and their local governments to do independent risk assessment studies on the project.

They had to know this deal - which allows Sunoco to restart construction and puts Mariner East 2, already months behind schedule - to get closer to reality was not going to be especially popular with residents.

So what better time to push out a press release announcing the settlement than the morning of the biggest event in Philly history.

Sunoco Pipeline is not on today's front page. That, of course, is owned by the Eagles.

The story is, however, on our "second" front, inside the paper after our special Super Bowl Parade section.

You can argue about our news judgment if you like.

What I don't think you can argue is that this deal was pushed out on a day when a lot of state officials no doubt were hoping it would fly under the radar.

For some reason, I don't think that's going to happen.

The people opposed to Mariner East 2 are not going away.

Even those who live and died with the Eagles.

A day to remember

Now what do we do?

Well, if you believe Doug Pederson, we get used to it.

The Eagles head coach has a message for long-suffering Philly fans. Get used to parades.

"This is the new norm," Pederson told his players, and in effect the fans as well.

We can't wait for next season.

But first, a few things about what happened yesterday.

How about a huge thumb's up for SEPTA, which took a lot of grief during the parade planning but delivered the goods - and hundreds of thousands of fans - to and from the city with hardly a hiccup. Well done, folks.

And to the fans. This one is simple. They are the best fans in the world, and proved it again yesterday.

Make sure you pick up a copy of our print edition today. It's another special collector's edition with a special section detailing the Eagles Super Bowl Championship Parade. It also has one more color centerspread saluting the City of Champions. Plus, it's at our regular daily price of $1.50, a bargain.

Finally, there is Jason Kelce. I love his passion. I love the underdog spirit. But truth be told, I could have lived without the profanity. I'm not a prude. I can cuss with the best of them. But there is a context and setting that needs to be taken into consideration.

We lament all the time how much coarser our society is becoming. I know I do. Now we know why. The crowd roared as Kelce dropped F-bombs. That tells you pretty much everything you need to know.

I still love Kelce. As much as anyone he embodies the underdog spirit that carried this team - and this city - to its first Super Bowl championship.

A day to remember? You bet.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A day like no other

This is the day we've been waiting for - after Sunday night of course.

Some of us have been waiting longer than others.

For me? Well, the Eagles won their last championship in 1960. I was 5 years old. That was the pre-Super Bowl Days.

I don't think anyone is quite prepared for what is going to happen today.

I'm sure the rest of the nation isn't.

There were hundreds of people who spent the night outside the Art Museum just so they could have a prime spot for today's Super Bowl Parade.

Hundreds have been standing in line at regional rail stations before light.

All to celebrate a football team.

But not just any football team.

Our Iggles.

Who have finally helped us shed our loser's image forever.

Enjoy the day.

The wait is over.

We're Super Bowl champions.

* * *

If you can't make it downtown, you have follow our live stream, with complete coverage of everything going on for the parade. CLICK HERE.

And if you happen to be out of town but still want in on the action, we'll have a live stream of parade as well. CLICK HERE.

No word yet on whether Chase Utley will make an appearance.

So let me offer this.

We are World Champions. What? You expected one more word? Hey, this is a family publication.

Savor every minute of it!

Thrill of Victory; Agony of getting to the Parade

We're calling it the Thrill of Victory, and the Agony of getting to the parade.

This basically breaks down to a numbers game.

There are going to be a lot more people headed into the city for the massive Eagles Super Bowl Parade than SEPTA can possibly hope to handle.

The transit agency learned some painful lessons during the 2008 Phillies World Series Parade. Regional rails trains filled up quickly, and then simply blew by thousands of fans waiting at stations farther east on the lines.

For that reason, SEPTA limited the stations it will use on the lines today, and decided to sell 50,000 discounted Indpendence passes for use on the rails. Those sold out in hours.

It's a reminder of the importance of investing in mass transit. And in infrastructure.

Thousands of people were already in line at 6 a.m. this morning waiting for trains.

We talk about it on today's editorial page.