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Updated: 2 hours 12 min ago

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Oct. 1

Wed, 2014-10-01 08:09
The Daily Numbers: 2, as in Debate No. 2 this morning for Tom Corbett and Tom Wolf.

27, age of David Massi II, for whom the new bill targeting help for people in a heroin OD is named.

1164, the Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Dominic Pileggi that will be known as ‘David’s Law.’

17 other states that have similar laws, which allow someone accompanying a person ODing to alert first responders without fear of being charged, and will put the drug Narcan in hands of first responders. It can reverse the effects of an overdose.

300 lives saved in the last 2 years by officers administering the drug in states where it is legal to do so.

1st, as in Concord First, the citizens group which has lost another round in their bid for a ballot question to change the township’s form of government.

76, as in Senate Bill 76, which would eliminate the property tax in Pa. Sen. Pileggi says it is unlikely to get a vote in the full Senate this year.

1 case of Ebola virus now confirmed in the U.S. A patient at a hospital in Dallas is in critical condition.

26, age of state trooper killed in accident while training at Montco training facility in Conshohocken.

98 billion dollar bid now offered for the Revel casino in Atlantic City.

28 point dip for stock market yesterday.

4-2 win for the Flyers over the Rangers in their final preseason tune-up.

3 INTs for Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, tying him for league lead.

1,173 yards passing for Nick Coles, which puts him 5th. He was the league leader.

7 point favorites for the Birds over the Rams on Sunday, according to the Vegas line.

10 of 39 on deep passes for Nick Foles this year.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Lane Johnson is back. And not a minute too soon for the Eagles beleaguered offensive line.

I Don’t Get It: There is now a confirmed case of Ebola virus in the U.S. Try not to panic.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Lynne Massi, the woman who pushed for and got a Good Samaritan bill passed by the Pa. Legislature that will help save heroin OD victims. Well done.

Quote Box: “I’m so thankful to everyone who supported this bill.”

- Lynne Massi, after ‘David’s Law’ - named for her nephew, who died of an OD, was signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett yesterday
Categories: Pennsylvania

Change coming to print edition of Daily Times

Wed, 2014-10-01 07:27
Change is hard.

I hate change.

Which probably sounds odd from someone who delivers jolting changes every day.

But I also know that our loyal, longtime readers of the print edition of the Daily Times are pretty much like me. They are fairly set in their ways.

Well, if I can learn new tricks, I'm fairly confident our readers can as well.

At least that is my hope.

That's because once again we are changing their beloved print product.

By now you've no doubt seen the ads, trumpeting our new print redesign.

It will arrive on your doorstep and in the local Wawas next Tuesday.

Relax, we're not changing any of the comics.

But there are lots of other changes.

It will look a bit different - I think for the better.

It will be better organized.

Yes, some favorite items will appear in different places.

We'll get through it together.

I will use my blog over the next week to get you ready for your new Daily Times. Then you can tell me what you think of it.

Please be gentle.

I hate change.
Categories: Pennsylvania

'Live From the Newsroom' talks politics with Delco political leaders

Wed, 2014-10-01 07:11
We have turned the calendar from September to October. The fall campaign is in full swing. Gov. Tom Corbett and Democrat challenger Tom Wolf will meet in just about an hour in the second of their debates.

The fall election is Nov. 5, just five weeks away.

Tonight we'll take our live-stream Internet broadcast, 'Live From the Newsroom,' and hit the campaign trail as we talk about the candidates and issues that will be in the spotlight for the next month.

We'll be joined by Delaware County Republican Party Chairman Andy Reilly and and Dem leader David Landau as we run down the ballot.

Right there at the top of the list will be the battle royal being waged for the governor's mansion between incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger York businessman Tom Wolf.

We'll get to the bottom of one of the key issues in this campaign, who exactly is responsible for the brutal funding cuts that took place in the first couple of years of Corbett's first term. Democrats insist Corbett cut a billion dollars; the governor says that's a life, that it was the federal government that ended the federal stimulus funds that former Gov. Ed Rendell was using to hide his own cuts.

We'll also talk about what likely will be the highest profile legislative race in the state, which will be waged right here in Delaware County. That would be the 26th District state Senate race between County Council Chairman Tom McGarrigle and Democrat union leader John Kane. They are looking to fill the seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Ted Erickson.

Do you have a question about one of the races or another aspect of the Delco vote?

Email them to me at editor@delcotimes.com and I'll put it to our panel.

Then tune in tonight at 7 at DelcoTimes.com as we kick off the fall campaign.

Don't sit on the sidelines. Join the conversation.
Categories: Pennsylvania

Commuting in Delco: The agony of I-95 & the Blue Route

Wed, 2014-10-01 06:50
There are a lot of things about this job that drive me crazy.

I am up to my neck in technology that I never dreamed would exist when I first got into this racket. I now deliver information 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

I am all over social media. For some reason more than 3,628 people follow me on Twitter.

Then there is the hours. They are long and brutal.

There is, however, a silver lining to getting into the office at the ungodly hour I arrive each day. Every morning, I am pretty much alone on the highways. It is a beautiful thing. I am basically alone with my thoughts, bracing myself for the manic, breakneck speed of the day that lies ahead.

I actually see some of the same people on the roads each day, delivery drivers, and clearly a few people who are on the same schedule as I am.

All of which is to say if I were to be out on the roads a few hours later, I'm not sure I could do it.

I get into the office, turn on my radio tuned to KYW, then the TV, then my laptop, in that order.

It does not take long for the agony of the Delaware Valley's daily commute to commence.

Why anyone in their right mind travels on I-95 of the Blue Route (I-476) is beyond me.

For the past two days a construction project has caused huge backups on I-95 south near the Blue Route. They are repaving the road, which it direly needs. But the road to reconstruction is paved with commuter nightmares.

The past two days, the work has gone long, extending into the morning commute. The result: Massive traffic backups.

Today, I-95 is crawling southbound from the airport through the interchange with I-476.

Of course, that also causes problems on the Blue Route, which is backed up southbound as people try to exit onto I-95.

Me, I'm just sitting here in the bliss of my early-morning routine, thanking God for the small favor of being on the road when almost no one else is traveling.
Categories: Pennsylvania

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Sept. 30

Tue, 2014-09-30 07:36
The Daily Numbers: 2 violence incidents last week involving Upper Darby High students that have led to increased security and police presence at the school and surrounding area.

7.25 minimum wage in Pa., which sparked a protest rally outside the courthouse in Media yesterday.

2009, last time the minimum was was hiked in Pa.

38,000 people in Delaware County who would benefit from the push to hike the wage to $10.10

6 video cameras that could be installed on State Street in Media.

33,000 dollars, how much borough council is spending on the cameras.

15, age of alleged victim police say was raped by a 19-year-old in Upper Darby.

30, age of Marple man who pleaded guilty to child porn charges.

317,000 dollars, value of travel packages sold to fans by former local TV sports anchor Don Tollefson, who never delivered the goods. He pleaded guilty yesterday to fraud charges.

37 years in prison, how much Tollefson could face. It’s unlikely he will get anywhere near that, although the prosecutor in the case indicated they will seek some jail time.

200 victims who accused Tollefson of ripping them off, including the family of slain police officer Brad Fox.

43-28 lead for Dem Tom Wolf over Gov. Tom Corbett in latest Pa. governor’s race poll.

41 point decline for the stock market yesterday.

5 percent uptick in penalty charges for ATM machines over the past year.

38 billion dollars in tax revenue from legalized gambling, according to industry survey.

100 million dollars in tax reductions being sought by owners of Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. The city is opposing the move.

7 people from the Philly area who made the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans.

81.2 billion dollar worth for Bill Gates, who continues to top the list.

4 games missed by Eagles OL Lane Johnson on drug suspension. He’s been reinstated and likely will start Sunday vs. Rams.

41-14 blasting of Bill Belichick and the Patriots by Andy Reid and his Chiefs in Monday Night Football.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Chip Kelly and the Eagles can’t run, and they can’t hide it either.

I Don’t Get It: There are a lot of good kids at Upper Darby High School. But as usual it’s a few bad apples who are making headlines.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Upper Darby school officials and police for taking quick action to increase police presence and security around the school.

Quote Box: “Those who want to be gangsters will have to deal with the police.”

- Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood, on a couple of violent incidents involving Upper Darby students.
Categories: Pennsylvania

Upper Darby lays down law with kids causing trouble

Tue, 2014-09-30 07:04
Upper Darby top cop Mike Chitwood has a message for the troublemakers who are hell-bent on giving Upper Darby High School a black eye: Knock it off.

Responding to a couple of violent incidents last week, the plain-spoken Chitwood went to the school to deliver the message to kids in person.

He was preaching zero tolerance - and he made it clear who was causing the problems.

"Our concern is that those kids who want to learn have a safe lace to learn," Chitwood said.

Then the chief turned up the heat.

"Those who want to be gangsters will have to deal with the police."

Last week a couple of students were involved in a fight not far from the campus that ended in a stabbing and criminal charges. In addition, a township mother faces charges that she egged on her daughter to settle what appears to have been a bullying incident by duking it out with another girl.

In response, Upper Darby police have increased their presence both before and after school.

It should be noted that this involves a small number of kids. Both Chitwood and school administrators stressed that.

They also want it known that those hell-bent on causing trouble will be dealt with accordingly.

Here's the full story.
Categories: Pennsylvania

Porn-Gate: Just what Corbett did not need

Tue, 2014-09-30 06:46
Tom Corbett can't get a break.

A heavy blitz of ads taking on Democratic challenger Tom Wolf failed to move the needle on polls that show him trailing badly.

Corbett got a bit of momentum off a good showing in the first debate that left many of us wonder, 'Where has this guy been the past two years.'

Now Corbett has another problem.

Apparently some of the guys who worked in his office when he was attorney general had a thing for porn.

They received and sent a slew of emails with all kinds of inappropriate material.

Here's the latest, with state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille wondering if any judges were among those sharing these racy emails, and what kind of fallout could result if they were.

And this at a time when his office was conducting the investigation - and being criticized for the way they were going about it - into the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal.

The issue came to light during new Attorney General Kathleen Kane's investigation of the way Corbett's office conducted the probe.

The discussion of some of the images in the emails that have been released so far by Kane's office are enough to make even an old newspaper guy blush.

And all this was being done on state computers.

No one has been charged as yet, and it's not clear even if any rules were broken.

Aside, of course, from the unwritten ones that apparently were not followed by some of Corbett's lieutenants.

It's the last thing Corbett needed. He and Wolf will meet in their second debate Wednesday morning in Philly.

Expect 'Porn-Gate' to be among the things discussed.

Corbett would do well to make some kind of pre-emptive move today, to get out ahead of this controversy, before tomorrow's debate. He's running out of time to cut into Wolf's lead.

And he's got a lot of Republicans across the state watching - and wondering how much longer they can stand by this guy.
Categories: Pennsylvania

The Eagles can't run, and they can't hide

Tue, 2014-09-30 06:18
Chip Kelly has a problem.

Actually a big problem.

His team can't run, and now they can no long hide from the problem.

For all its high-tech, up-tempo wizardry, Kelly's offense is based on a fairly old-school premise: He wants to run the ball.

Hence Kelly's dilemma.

The Birds' boss pretty much admitted it in his post-game comments after the Eagles lost a game they could have stolen in San Francisco. With the ball at the Niners' 1-yard line with just under 2 minutes left in the game, the Eagles had two opportunities to punch the ball in and seize the lead.

But Kelly threw the ball on both third and fourth down, trying to get the immobile Nick Foles on the move. First the harried QB missed an open Brent Celek. On fourth down, he fired too high for Jeremy Maclin in the back of the end zone. The NFL's best back, LeSean McCoy did not get an opportunity to get the ball in the end zone. He did, however, miss a key block that forced Foles to rush a throw.

After the game, and again in his post-day presser on Monday, Kelly pretty much admitted he was loathe to try to run the ball behind the patchwork offensive line he fielded after losing three starters, two to injuries and Lane Johnson serving the last of his four-game suspension.

Asked to sum up the problems on the O-line, Kelly refreshingly did not mince words.

"We got whupped," the coach said matter of factly.

The Eagles likely will have Johnson back in the lineup on Sunday when they host the St. Louis Rams at the Linc. That will allow Todd Herremans to slide back inside to right guard and at least solidify one side of the Birds O-line. Jason Peters will anchor the other. but the center of the line and left guard will remain question marks.

The Eagles' inability to run does not bode well for them against the Rams. They will need production on the ground. The Rams are near the top of the league rankings in defending the pass, but trail badly against the run.

If the Eagles want to jolt McCoy out of his funk, this might be the week to do it. But if they struggle to move the ball on the ground, none of Kelly's high-tech wizardry is likely to matter much.

If the Birds aren't able to run, they won't be able to hide this offense's other limitations as well.

It puts too much pressure on Foles, who increasingly looks like a guy who is running for his life behind this patchwork line.

The Eagles need to run the ball and they need a big game from LeSean McCoy. So far the Eagles have managed to post a 3-1 record, despite consistently falling behind, and an offense that seems to take at least a half to get on track.

Take away their special teams play, plus a Pick-6 from safety Malcolm Jenkins, and what you have left from Sunday's game is a zero for the Eagles' offense. That's how many points they produced.

And that includes two crucial plays late in the game from the Niners' 1-yard line.

That can't happen again.

Here's beat writer Bob Grotz's take on Kelly's day-after press conference.
Categories: Pennsylvania

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Sept. 29

Mon, 2014-09-29 07:40
The Daily Numbers: 213 total yards for the Eagles offense yesterday in 26-21 loss to the 49ers.

407 yards for the 49ers.

232-73, the offensive numbers from 1st half in favor of San Fran.

119 yards rushing for Frank Gore.

2 special teams TDs, on blocked punt and punt return, how Eagles scored.

53 yard Pick-6 from safety Malcolm Jenkins.

22 yards on 12 rushes for the Eagles behind a battered offensive line.

10 rushes for 17 yars for LeSean McCoy. That is not a misprint.

21 of 43 for 195 yards for Nick Foles.

2 straight incomplete passes from Foles on 3rd and 4th downs with less than 2 minutes to go from the Niners 1-yard-line when the Birds still could have won the game.

3-1 record for the Eagles. Admit it, you’d take that before the season started.

2-2 mark for the Niners.

3-1 record for the Cowboys, now tied with Eagles atop NFC East.

1992, last time the Eagles scored twice on special teams.

9-9 mark for the Cole Hamels, who took the loss in Phillies finale.

2-1 defeat for punchless Phils.

73-89 mark for the Phillies, exactly the same as last year.

14 years, how long ago the Phillies ended up in last place.

3-1 loss for the Flyers against the Devils in preseason game.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.Cary Williams is not a Philly kind of player. Very weak effort on a crucial third down that could have stopped the 49ers.

I Don’t Get It: Ed Hochuli. I don’t get it. No one pays to see him and his crew litter the field with penalty flags.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Nick Foles, who took another brutal physical beating yesterday. Quote Box: “We got whupped.”

- Eagles coach Chip Kelly on the play of his beat-up makeshift offensive line.
Categories: Pennsylvania

A frustrating Eagles loss; is there another kind?

Mon, 2014-09-29 07:21
Raise your hand if you had the Eagles flying across the country and beating the 49ers in a national TV game before the season. Thought so.

Amazingly, despite not managing to get the ball into 49ers territory until late in the 4th quarter, the Eagles had a good chance to win.

That is not a misprint. The Eagles did not get the ball across the 50-yard line on offense until the latter part of the fourth quarter.

And they still could have won.

With a beat-up offensive line that opened exactly zero holes and had trouble protecting Nick Foles.

With another brutally sub-par performance from LeSean McCoy.

With a defense that continues to have trouble getting off the field on third down.

But thanks to their brilliant special teams, which provided touchdowns on a blocked punt and a punt return, as well as a Pick-6 from Malcolm Jenkins, the Eagles were in position to pull out a most improbable fourth straight come-from-behind win.

They had the ball at the 49ers 2-yard-line with 1:50 left in the game.

The 49ers had no timeouts left and the Eagles had two plays to punch it in.

They failed to do so.

And the fault lies with Chip Kelly.

The Eagles coach is an offensive wizard - some insist on calling him genius - who for some reason struggles at the end of games.

His frenetic, hurry-up offense is ill-equipped to use the clock.

Even if the Eagles had scored in this crucial series, they still would have given the ball back to the Niners and Colin Kaepernick with plenty of time to score.

Kelly does not seem to grasp the way to bleed the clock.

That game should have ended with the Eagles running that 4th down play as the clock expired, either they win or time runs out. You don't give the ball back to the other team.

His two play-calls are suspect as well.

Instead of at a minimum running the ball on third down, then coming back with a pass on fourth down, Kelly opted to get Foles on the move and throw the ball two times.

Two incompletions later, the Birds gave the ball back to the 49ers.

Amazingly, the Eagles still managed to get the back.

The Eagles are now 3-1, but they have lots of questions.

For one, how much stock do you put in those three wins.

Are they ever going to be able to get LeSean McCoy going.

They will get Lane Johnson back starting today, but that offensive line is still bruised and battered.

Speaking of bruised and battered, how long can Foles continue to take this kind of punishment. It's a long season. And this was just one of those frustating weeks Eagles fans have gotten used to over the years.
Categories: Pennsylvania

The two people who call newspapers

Mon, 2014-09-29 06:58
I say all the time that only two people call the newspaper. I explain who they are in my print column today.
Categories: Pennsylvania

What's in a name?

Mon, 2014-09-29 06:18
I love talking about journalism, in particular the way my job is changing.

Take my word for, the changes have been seismic.

I always joke with people when I do public speaking engagements that I did not stop at a local watering hole before showing up to regale them with tales from the print world.

But I do appear to be somewhat off balance.

It is not an accident.

I spend most of my waking moments these days pulled in two different directions - producing a print edition as we have always done, and the lightning fast online world where we deliver information in real time, 24 hours a day.

I have one leg still firmly planted in the print world, and the other in the online world.

Those two worlds have some distinct differences, one of which has been the focus of considerable online debate over the past week.

I post on Twitter pretty much all day. It's one of the primary vehicles we now use to deliver breaking news and updates.

I post under the 'handle' @philheron. I find it the easiest way to make sure people know where this information is coming from.

I suppose I could have made up another handle, let's say @PrimosPhil.

If you didn't know that was me, do you think it would hold the same authority.

Twitter is full of these kinds of handles.

That's the point. They are pseudonyms. There's a very good chance you in fact do not know who is posting that information. These two worlds collided recently when I received a letter to the editor submission from a person who wanted to be known only by his Twitter handle.

In this instance, that handle is very well known. It is @FanSince09, the online sleuth who was crucial to identifying a group of people believed connected to an attack on a gay couple in Philadelphia. Several people now face charges in that case.

@FanSince09 wanted to respond to an opinion piece that was penned by Sunday columnist Christine Flowers. In it she had some pointed things to say about the push for hate-crime legislation that this case has sparked, as well as the online work that pushed the investigation into the headlines.

Our policy on letters to the editor is pretty clear. We require a name, town, and phone number for verification. The phone number is not printed. The name and town are.

I still think it's a good policy. That does not mean we do not use anonymous material elsewhere in the paper. We feature an entire column called Sound Off, that is anonymous. But they are not letter to the editor.

I would be happy to include a person's Twitter handle, and run it along with their name. But I remain unwilling to open our op-ed pages to anonymous pieces. I believe it is a recipe for disaster.

I eventually explained my decision and ran his letter in my blog.

But the debate over our policy requiring a name to have a letter published continues.

So what do the readers think?

Please feel free to weigh in with your stance. As usual, I'm willing to listen to dissenting opinions. I'm just not always willing to print them, unless you are willing to put your name beside it.
Categories: Pennsylvania

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

Sat, 2014-09-27 06:16
Now comes the hard part.

The Eagles have spent the first three weeks of this NFL season allowing teams to go up on them before rallying from behind for three straight wins.

That likely won't happen this week, when the Birds face the prospect of flying across the country to tangle with an angry 49ers team that finds itself sitting at a disappointing 1-2. You just get the feeling the Niners do not want to fall to 1-3, a huge hole to dig out of to start the season.

Nick Foles likely will again spend much of the day being battered behind a makeshift offensive line that now will be without three starters.

A big dose of LeSean McCoy would certainly help, but Shady has been MIA for the start of this season as teams are game-planning to take him out of the picture. McCoy also likely is feeling the effects of teams packing the box since they don't have to be wary of DeSean Jackson as a deep threat.

The Eagles will live or die Sunday on Foles' right arm. He'll have another big day. Just not big enough. And Chip Kelly is going to have to start devising game plans that protect Foles, who took a hellacious beating all day vs. the Redskins.

This wasn't one you had in the win column before the season anyhow.

I have to go with Colin Kaepernick and the Niners in a shootout.

The Pick: Make it 49ers 33, Eagles 29. I just see the 49ers having more success against an Eagles defense that will once again be missing Mychal Kendricks than Foles and his crew have against San Fran. I could be wrong - I hope I am - but this does not look like the Birds' day. If Foles can fly across the country and lead the Birds to an upset win against an angry Niners bunch, he might finally dispel all those doubters who keep waiting for him to fall on his face.

Season Record: It's been a trifecta for the Eagles. Three straight weeks they haven fallen behind in the first half, only to come roaring back. They now sit at a lofty 3-0, while I still have a blemish at 2-1. One of us is going to fall again today. I'm going with the Niners.

Game by Game: Eagles 34, Jaguars 17 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Jags 16)

Eagles 30, Colts 27 (My Pick: Colts 29, Eagles 23)

Eagles 37, Redskins 34 (My Pick: Eagles 24, Redskins 23)
Categories: Pennsylvania

A response to columnist Christine Flowers from @FanSince09

Thu, 2014-09-25 14:06
I get accused of doing a lot of bad things here every day.

Only some of them are true.

We're in the midst of election season, so both Delaware County Republicans and Democrats are convinced that we are in bed with the enemy, plotting against them. I always figure if both sides are complaining, we probably have it just about right.

Readers call every day to complain about the way we handle stories, insisting we sensationalize the news "just so we can sell more copies of that rag of a newspaper." I should confess that now includes drawing eyeballs to our website. I also can admit there is a grain of truth to their complaint.

Officials and residents of Chester believe we never miss an opportunity to portray the struggling city in a poor light, that we never feature any of the good things happening in the city.

And some readers are even convinced stories get different treatment depending on the color of the skin of the people involved. They lament that we never miss a chance to splash a story about an African-American doing something wrong all over Page One, while we bury a similar saga about a white person. I guess they missed this week's story on the teacher at Garnet Valley Middle School charged with having sex with a 15-year-old student.

I do not, however, very often field complaints for withholding the news. Or, even worse, censoring one person's opinion over another. That's a fairly serious charge to make against someone who has made his living practicing journalism for more than three decades. In this racket, we take the Second Amendment and Freedom of the Press pretty seriously.

Every day in this newspaper, you will find opinions that I disagree with. That does not mean I do not run them. In fact, just the opposite is true. I always encourage readers who disagree with something we have written to do likewise, put their beliefs in writing, by penning a letter to the editor. They very often seem surprised that I would - 1) make the offer, and 2) actually run something critical of the newspaper or in direct opposition to a position or story we have presented.

I sometimes wonder if they ever look at our editorial pages. There every day they will find Letters to the Editor that routinely take me and this newspaper to task for something we've done.

They run beside our editorials, the unsigned collaborative work of our editorial board, which formulates the position of the newspaper on important issues.

Maybe they just call Sound Off, where we allow people to get a quick thought off their chest without attribution. These days, a lot of these people dwell on our website, DelcoTimes.com, where people can comment to their heart's content, for the most part in complete anonymity.

On Page 6 of the newspaper, we run our featured columnists, Christine Flowers and Chris Freind. I assure you I do not agree with many of the stances they take. But I never for a second consider censoring what they have to say. They have picked up the torch for the man who filled that spot for many years. I can't begin to count the number of times a conversation with longtime columnist Gil Spencer ended in a full-throated shouting match. But I never killed one of his columns. All three of these scribes fulfill the primary role of a columnist - they have something to say. I don't care if people love them or hate, so long as they read them, so long as they can't wait to get to the Wawa to pick up the Daily Times because their column is in that day's paper. I don't want readers to yawn and turn the page. They can do that when my column appears on Monday.

Last Sunday Christine Flowers wrote a column on hate-crime laws in the wake of the furor surrounding the attack on a gay couple on a Philadelphia street. Let's just say she's not a fan - of those kinds of laws, nor of anyone resorting to physical assault to settle a difference.

In the column, she also had a few things to say about the social media buzz that turned the focus of the investigation on a group believed to be connected to the attack.

Philadelphia police credited Twitter followers, in particular the work of a person going by the handle of @FanSince09, with being very helpful in their investigation. It is the way a lot of journalism is being done these days. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and a host of other social media tools are now part of the toolbox journalists turn to every day in the digital age that many of us old, ink-stained wretches now toil in. We carried several Associated Press stories detailing the investigation, which included references to the online sleuthing of @FanSince09. I have to admit I was impressed.

As it turns out, @FanSince09 wanted to reply to Flowers' column. He could have simply gone online and posted a comment on her opus. He could have ripped her anonymously in Sound Off. He didn't want to do any of those things. He wanted to write a Letter to the Editor. I had no problem with that. Right up until the point where the writer indicated he wanted his letter signed @FanSince09.

Now we have a problem.

It has long been the policy of this newspaper that we do not run anonymous letters to the editor. We require the letter writer provide us with a name, town where they live, and a phone number that we use for verification. The phone number is not printed. The name and town are - on every letter we run.

Yes, we at times will quote an anonymous source in a news story. Yes, we allow anonymous commenting online. Yes, we run anonymous items in Sound Off. No, we do not run anonymous letters, nor ones that merely carry a pseudonym.

It is a policy I firmly believe in; I have no interest in even considering the kinds of ethical problems I would face if I suddenly opened up our editorial pages to anonymous letter writers.

@FanSince09 was not especially happy with my decision. He made clear his belief that he wanted to retain his anonymity, in no small part because he feared problems with his employment, and possible retaliation given the volatile nature of the charges now filed in this case.

I have no problem with what he wanted to say. He clearly disagrees with Flowers' position. That happens pretty much every time she writes. But Christine's name is right there beside everything she pens. His would not, instead he would be veiled behind the moniker @FanSince09.

After we exchanged a few emails and Tweets, a funny thing happened. Or maybe not so funny, depending on where you stand. I became a very popular guy on Twitter. My account, @philheron, was deluged with people taking up @FanSince09's side, and castigating me at every turn. And of course, what self-righteous Twitter-verse discussion would be complete without it devolving into vulgar name-calling, almost all of it directed at me.

Get in line, Twitter folks. You have to take a number to do that around these parts.

It did do one thing. It gave me a new appreciation - if only for a brief time - of what it is like to have the Internet turn against you. It can be a fairly intimidating experience. Some supporters of @FanSince09 even resorted to calling the newsroom and ranting at whoever had the misfortune of picking up the phone.

I think I'll survive.

None of which solves my problem.

The truth is I'd like to see @FanSince09's opinion get out there. I think what he has to say can be an important part of the discussion, and enlighten some of those who are so quick to belittle what is being done on social media.

For that reason, I'm presenting it there. I realize some people will believe in doing so I am compromising my stance. I can live with that, too.

Here is the letter penned to the Daily Times by @FanSince09.

To whom it may concern:

I may not be a highfalutin' big city lawyer, but I do take exception to several of the statements that Christine Flowers made in her last column. While Ms. Flowers is certainly entitled to her conservative beliefs, she was completely off-base in her description of Philadelphia’s social media communities.

Social media has long been a scapegoat and boogeyman for those who don’t understand it. It’s something bad, or dangerous, that always wants to be starting something that ruins lives anonymously and catches innocents in a irresponsible crossfire due to social media detectives looking to serve as the police. Remember the time when names were thrown out to the public during the Boston Bombing manhunt? You are not alone. That issue is always brought up as an example of the dangers of online sleuthing. That being said, this incident was the antithesis of those off-the-wall situations. To call this issue “trial by twitter” makes me want to scream.

The social media uproar started when the Philadelphia Police Department posted an entry to their blog entitled Wanted: Suspects for Hate Crime/Assault And Robbery in the 9th District. Please notice the wording. In this call for information, the Philadelphia Police Department was the first to identify these folks as suspects and to identify the crime as a hate crime. Twitter users did not concoct this. Twitter users did not introduce this wording. This was the official wording by the police department.

What happened next was not an angry online mob seeking to punish a hate crime but a group of people feeling sympathy for the victims of a brutal attack, whether a hate crime or not, and decided to listen to their human nature and assist the police. I’d like Ms. Flowers to know that during the social media investigation that not one suspect’s name given out publicly. These suspects weren’t smooth criminals, they were clear as day in a video (please get your eyes checked, counselor) and left a trail of breadcrumbs that even Hansel and Gretel would shake their heads at, yet we wanted to be absolutely sure they were indeed the people in the video before going public with any information. When the large group picture was released, the restaurant was identified but nobody in the photo was called out, harassed or named to the media. Whether the tips we gave the PPD were the right people or not, it was kept private and handed directly to the police. If there is any collateral damage in this case, it is certainly not because of Twitter.

The reason feel I must reply to Ms. Flowers is because I am extremely proud of how calmly and professionally this situation was handled, and I feel as though we've created an example for future social media investigations. A lot of credit must go to the PPD, who did an outstanding job of keeping everyone in the loop and letting us know our information was received. Not once was there a sense that we were working our own investigation, or competition with the PD. Nobody was trying to be a hero, we were just trying to do the right thing in the right way. A vigilant citizenry willing to work with the government to solve problems is a must for all successful societies. If Ms. Flowers is to be the judge of what is American, surely she must realize there is nothing more American than cooperation between private citizens and their civil servants.

I am very proud of everyone who assisted the police, and happy that so many Philadelphians, unlike Ms. Flowers, are willing to take a stand against hatred.

- Twitter User @FanSince09.

PS: Please send all responses to @EvanMathis69
Categories: Pennsylvania

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Sept. 25

Thu, 2014-09-25 08:24
The Daily Numbers: 45 people who were honored by County Council yesterday for their efforts in the aftermath of a shooting at Mercy Fitzgerald shooting.

4 people in particular who were singled out, including Dr. Lee Silverman, who used his own gun to take down the suspected shooter. Also stressed in the efforts to disable the man were Dr. Jeffrey Dekret, and Fitz employees John D’Alonzo and Stephanie Walters.

30 minute sitdown by U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, D-1, of Philadelphia, and state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, with nurses who remain off job at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

565 Crozer nurses who will not be able to get back on the job until Friday.

5 days, the deal Crozer entered into with replacement nurses needed to staff the facility during the 2-day strike.

5 to 10 years in prison for John Gonce, who entered a guilty plea to a home invasion. He already stands convicted in a double-murder in Philadelphia.

10 percent of $250,000 bail posted by teacher at Garnet Valley Middle School who has been charged in connection with an alleged sexual incident with a 15-year-old student.

64,000 dollars, amount a Darby Borough man now stands charged with stealing from the Veterans Administration, where he worked.

7 to 23 months in prison for a homeless man convicted of setting an arson fire in a building in Concord.

1st person to be charged under new state law dealing with human trafficking, just happens to be from Upper Darby.

28 of October, when Aston plans to discuss possible expansion of the Delaware County Technical School.

1.8 million dollars in overtime costs racked up for police protection in Chester, putting strain on city budget.

20 of 27 Pa. senators who voted in favor of bill legalizing medical marijuana.

12 days, how long Eric Frein has eluded police manhunt in the Pa. woods. He’s wanted in ambush murder of Pa. state trooper.

3 suspects who have now posted bail and been released in connection with an altercation with a gay couple in Philadelphia.

154 point spike for the stock market yesterday.

3 hits for Kyle Kendrick last night as he led Phils to 2-1 win over the Marlins.

1 run on 6 hits over 7 innings for Kendrick in what may be his final start as a Phillie.

10 wins for Kendrick, the only Phillies starter to hit double digits in wins so far this year. Cole Hamels has 9.

0 fines or suspensions stemming from brawl between Eagles and Redskins Sunday after nasty hit on Birds QB Nick Foles.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Look for the NFL to come up with still one more new rule in the fallout from that ‘obliteration’ of Nick Foles last Sunday after an interception that turned out not be an pick. ‘Skins defensive lineman Chris Baker leveled Foles, touching off a brawl.

I Don’t Get It: Only thing that makes the end of summer even worse is a nasty, cold rain. Welcome to Thursday.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those involved in getting ‘David’s Law’ passed. It will offer immunity to those with a friend in the midst of a heroin OD, and also allow first responders to administer Narcan, which can reverse and OD. The life-saving measure, named for Delco resident David Massi II, is now on its way to Gov. Corbett’s desk.

Quote Box: “I saw a nice group of human beings who want to go back to work and take care of their patients.’

- U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, after meeting with Crozer nurses.
Categories: Pennsylvania

Bob Brady to the rescue?

Thu, 2014-09-25 07:04
Things are getting serious in the work stoppage by nurses at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

How do I know?

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady is getting involved. You can read the details here as the Democratic congressman visited nurses. He was joined by state Rep. Thadddeus Kirkland, D-159, of Chester.

Review any major labor action in the region in the past few years and examine the deal that ended them and you're likely to find a common theme.

That would be the image of the rugged, burly ex-Labor official who now represents much of the city and a sliver of Delaware County as it extends south along the Delaware River.

Nurses at Crozer walked off the job for two days Sunday morning after months of negotiations failed to produce a new contract. They say staffing at the hospital is on the critical list, a charge that Crozer denies, while pointing out that Crozer nurses are the top-paid in the region, with an average annual salary of $103,000. The nurses, by the way, dispute that figure.

As you can see, these two sides don't agree on much.

Among the things they don't see eye to eye on is when nurses could report back to work. The nurses ended their strike Tuesday morning. But Crozer pointed out that to get qualified replacements, they needed to offer a five-day deal to the outside firm. That means the union nurses at Crozer will not be able to get back to work until Friday.

They are planning another rally today.

Unless Brady can pull off a deal.

I wouldn't bet against him.
Categories: Pennsylvania

A crucial link between Widener and the Chester community

Thu, 2014-09-25 06:42
I've always been fascinated by the relationship between Widener Univesity and the city it calls home.

I wonder how much interaction the kids who go to school on that beautiful campus have with the city and its residents.

Plenty, as it turns out.

That is one of the things I learned last night when we took our 'Live From the Newsroom' live-stream Internet show back to the Widener campus. We are once again partnering with Widener and will visit one of the newer buildings on the campus. Freedom Hall just happens to be home to their Communications Departments, and features a state-of-the-art TV studio.

The idea is pretty simple. The kids get a chance to do some hands-on production work on a live show, and we get the use of equipment we could not dream of obtaining. Last night I was surprised to see that the students had created a snazzy lead-in to the show, featuring several different shots of me and our 'Live From the Newsroom' logo. Here's a tip, kids. Don't spend too much time trying to make me look good. I gave up on that a long time ago. Believe me when I say this is a face that was made for the newspaper - and which more and more is showing up online and on TV.

We also bring on guests - including students - and zero in on some aspect of Widener life or have professors talk politics or the other key issues affecting the region.

Last night we zeroed in on great program that underlines the contributions Widener makes in the Chester community.

We profiled the Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic. It's a student-run facility that offers rehab and physical therapy services to city residents who otherwise likely would not be able to afford it.

If you missed the show, you can catch the replay here.

In the last year, the clinic saw 5,000 clients, and has seen its numbers grow consistently.

According to Jill Black, assistant professor and Pro Bono services coordinator for the Widener Institute for Physical Therapy Education, there biggest issue now is a need for space, since they've already outgrown their home in Balin Hall just a few blocks from the campus.

My thanks to the four great grad students who joined us last night and talked about their experiences at the clinic. Brian Kennedy, Nicole Nardone, Daria Porretta and Alanna DiBiassi all spoke of not only their love of the work they do, but the importance of offering a service that is clearly needed in the community.

By the way, if you are interested in using the clinic, you can get started by visiting their website here.

You can check their hours - they also are their evenings - and you can make an appointment.

Here is their mission statement: The Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic’s mission is to simultaneously improve healthcare access to physical therapy services by providing pro bono physical therapy services to the underserved and underinsured populations in the surrounding community while educating a new generation of physical therapists in the areas of competency, character, citizenship, and social responsibility. I assure you that you will be in good hands.

Categories: Pennsylvania

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Sept. 24

Wed, 2014-09-24 08:15
The Daily Numbers: 38, age of teacher and coach at Garnet Valley Middle School who faces charges of having a sexual relationship with a student.

15, age of girl police say was involved with the teacher.

10 percent of $250,000 cash bail that he failed to post. He was remanded to the county prison.

7 a.m. Tuesday, when nurses at Crozer officially ended their 2-day strike.

5 days, how long nurses actually will be off the job because Crozer committed to 5 days to bring in replacements.

678 dollars in restitution, what a Philly man was ordered to pay in connection with a series of car break-ins at local fitness centers.

1 bridge in Delaware County included in a big push by PennDOT to fix their infrastructure.

30 feet long and 30.2 feet wide, the span on Route 420 over Stoney Creek that will be repaired.

34 tons, current weight restriction on the bridge.

23, age of Springfield man who offered a guilty plea on child porn charges this week.

3 people - 2 men and 1 woman - charged in that controversial beating of a gay couple in Philadelphia. They are denying the altercation was based on sexual orientation.

1 pregnant woman and her unborn baby killed in shooting overnight in Philly. It’s the 2nd time in several days that a pregnant woman and her baby died as a result of a street shooting.

19, age of suspect who turned himself in the shooting in which a stray bullet hit and killed a 15-year-old girl in Philly.

37.8 million dollars, how much money is being spent on TV commercials by candidates seeking public office in Pa.

56,000 ads that have aired so far. Each ad is counted every time it airs.

62 million dollars raised in by Gov. Tom Corbett and Dem Tom Wolf in the governor’s race.

4 of 10 members of the Ironworkers union charged in harassment and intimidation incidents have pleaded guilty.

4 others have signed plea agreements.

3 people dead after gunman killed 2 former co-workers at a UPS plant in Alabama then turned the gun on himself.

1.4 million, how many people doctors now fear may eventually be infected with the Ebola virus.

116 point dip for the Dow Jones yesterday

2 times in 14 months that Pennsylvania’s debt rating has been downgraded.

6-8 weeks, how long Eagles will have to survive without center Jason Kelce, who underwent surgery yesterday for sports hernia.

2-0 loss for the Phillies to the Marlins.

2 runs on 7 hits surrendered by Cole Hamels.

22 consecutive starts in which Hamels has allowed 3 runs or fewer.

14 times he’s gone at least 7 innings and allowed 2 runs or less.

9-8 record for Hamels.

0 Phillies starters to hit 10 wins.

9 wins also for Kyle Kendrick.

65 years, how long it’s been since Phillies have failed to have a starter hit double digits in wins.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.At least the Eagles will not be without starting left offensive tackle Jason Peters Sunday when they tangle with the 49ers on the Left Coast. The NFL did not hand out suspensions in connection with the brawl in last Sunday’s win for the Birds.

I Don’t Get It: Still shaking my head over today’s lead story. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who will be on hand at today’s County Council meeting, where first responders and others who reacted in the aftermath of a shooting at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital. Well done.

Quote Box: “I feel sick to my stomach.”

- Girl at Garnet Valley High School, talking about sex charges lodged against a teacher, who was allegedly involved with a female student.
Categories: Pennsylvania

Some days you just shake your head

Wed, 2014-09-24 07:26
After more than 30 years in the news business, not much surprises me any more.

Until yesterday.

There has been a rash of recent incidents in the news concerning teachers and coaches facing charges for being sexually involved with students, former students and players.

Yesterday it hit in Delco. Again.

When I first heard of the charges filed against William Barber, 38, a teacher at Garnet Valley Middle School, in connection with an alleged relationship he had with a 15-year-old girl who was a student of his, I kind of expected what was going to happen next.

The story would explode, first on our website, then on social media.

As I said, that much I expected. What happened next was not.

I could not figure out why Barber's name was so familiar.

It didn't take long to find out why.

A quick search of our online archive pointed out this was not the first story we had done on Barber. In fact, back in August we had done a feature on Barber and his wife and the fundraising campaign they were promoting to raise money for pediatric cancer. Their daughter was battling cancer.

They sort of piggy-backed off the phenomenal success of the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for ALS and came up with the Lemon Shot Challenge. They would challenge people to take a shot of lemon juice and make a donation to help fight cancer.

Now Barber has another kind of fight on his hands.

I have to be honest here. My first inclination when I heard about this new twist in the story was whether that should be a part of it at all. The last thing I wanted to do was add to this family's heartache. It soon became pretty clear it would be part of the story. The school district even mentioned the fundraising efforts in their email message to the school community.

I rely on my journalist's background to remind myself that at this point these are merely allegations. Barber retains the presumption of innocence. I hope these charges aren't true. I fear otherwise.

Some days you just shake your head.
Categories: Pennsylvania

A media tour de force at Neumann, & 'Live From the Newsroom' goes back to Widener

Wed, 2014-09-24 06:48
Sometimes I wonder about the education young people are getting, in particular the next generation who will pick up this torch we call journalism.

The world they will enter as they leave college could not be more different than the one I entered as a would-be newspaperman more than three decades ago.

They will work - and live - in a digital world, where information is exchanged 24 hours a day. The will write and deliver stories in real time, mixing words, pictures and video on a variety of platforms.

The journalism world has been turned upside down in the past decade.

There's this new thing out there. It's called the Internet. Basically, it has changed everything.

It has broken the model for a print product, while throwing open the door to entirely new methods of delivering the news. For one, it has afforded me the opportunity to get neck-deep in the 24-hour news cycle. I won't sugarcoat the experience, in particular for those young people who are about to enter the workplace.

It never stops. You never get away. Our love of technology and being 'plugged-in' now follows us everywhere we go.

Some of life's most intimate moments now routinely scream from our ubiquitous cell phones.

I wonder if young people will be equipped to travel in the fast lane of this information superhighway.

Last night, I was reassured that they are in fact in good hands.

I was at a dinner hosted by the school of Communications and Media Arts at Neumann University. I have been selected to serve on an advisory board for the school. It's an honor.

The invitation was extended by my friend Karen Thomas. You would know her if you see her. Her familiar face has delivered the weather reports on several local TV stations. Karen is now a communications professor at Neumann.

She works under the auspices of Dr. Al Mueller. He's the dean of Arts and Sciences.

Then there are people like Dr. Margaret Stewart, who specializes in social media, and Sean McDonald, who runs something they called Neumann Media. It is a terrific program that gives students real experience in all faces of real media, from print to TV to online work.

They are reaching out to those working in the field to offer advice and suggestions to be sure they are on the right track as they prepare student to enter the real world. They're on the right track.

Likewise tonight I will be back on the campus of Widener University, as we kick off another year-long partnership for our live-stream Internet broadcast, 'Live From the Newsroom.'

We will do the show from Widener's sparkling new TV studio in the brand new Freedom Hall communications center.

Tonight we will show one of the ways Widener staff and students are interacting with the Chester community. Tonight we'll focus on the Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic. It is a medical facility that is run by Widener students, faculty and alumni, treating patients that otherwise might not get needed medical care.

Our guest will be Jill Black, the Pro Bono Services Coordinator for Widener's Institute for Physical Therapy Education, and faculty adviser for the clinic. I'm also hoping to have several students who man the clinic on the show as well.

They may not know it now, but these kinds of real-world experience being gained by students at Neumann and Widener are invaluable. Relax, parents. Your children are in good hands.
Categories: Pennsylvania