Monday, December 27, 2010

Hunting the hunters

The following is an editorial that appeared in The Times Herald. Obviously I sign off on all editorials.
Please take a moment to read the editorial and then leave a comment. Thanks.

No one knows what happened in the woods in Bucks County a few weeks ago except for the people involved.
Tragically, Barry Groh probably didn’t know what happened that fateful day either.
Groh, 52, was dragging a deer he had shot when he was shot and killed by another hunter. David Manilla has been charged with manslaughter in the case.
While we don’t know exactly what happened that day, we do know David Manilla should never have been in the woods with a high-powered rifle in the first place.
Manilla, a convicted felon, is not permitted to own a weapon. Manilla’s felony conviction came after he beat a man with a curl bar outside a gym in Norristown in the mid-’80s.
While again, we don’t know what happened that day, we do know that Manilla’s uncle, former Montgomery County District Attorney and former County Commissioner Mike Marino, should never have been in the woods with Manilla, knowing he was a convicted felon.
Manilla is an attorney with a reputation for handling DUI cases.
Marino is an attorney with a reputation for being a hard-nosed prosecutor and an even more hard-nosed executive as a county commissioner.
Both men absolutely should have known that Manilla should not have been in those woods.
And Manilla also was using a high-powered rifle, which is illegal for hunting in Pennsylvania.
Marino, a self-proclaimed outdoorsman, should have known the high-powered rifle was illegal for hunting.
We’re confident the Bucks County District Attorney will handle this case with expediency and a firm hand.
While we don’t know exactly what happened on that fateful day, we do know that the circumstances surrounding the death of a 52-year-old father of two should be examined from every angle, and every responsible party should be held to the highest letter of the law.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Breakfast Club

While the group of county officials that have been gathering regularly at the Jem restaurant in East Norriton in no way resemble the rag-tag group of misfits from the 1985 John Hughes movie, the moniker is just too good to pass up. If you've been even remotely awake the past few days you've seen our investigative reporting on two of our Montgomery County commissioners, Jim Matthews and Joe Hoeffel, meeting at one of my favorite diners and talking county business. Thankfully, our county district attorney has decided to pick up the gauntlet, but I can't help but wonder what the outcome of all of this hard work by two of my reporters is going to result in. So I'll ask you, what do you think should happen to Matthews and Hoeffel? Matthews has already been censured by the Republican Party. Hoeffel is doing his best to distance himself from the whole thing, but it's just not going to work. There absolutely, positively must be repercussions, but what should they be?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Post election postmortem

So, what is the most fascinating event to come out of the Nov. 2 election?
You could go with Sestak's defeat for Specter's Senate seat, or Toomey's victory over Lentz for Sestak's old seat, or the overall thrashing Republicans served up, but if you ask me, I would say it is the fact that Montgomery County Commissioners Chairman Jim Matthews was in Pittsburgh on Election Day standing beside now Gov. elect Tom Corbett, Word has it Matthews was there asking for a position in Corbett's new administration. Now, I'm not sure why Corbett would give Matthews a job, but as I've stated on many occasions; I'm not invited into the back room. And if this is the kind of dealing that goes on in there, I don't want to be. So, if Matthews is headed to Harrisburg, who gets appointed to the vacant seat? Regardless of who it turns out to be, Republicans will be back in charge, and Bruce Castor will get the chairman's seat.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Night in Montco

So, I was number 418 when I voted earlier this afternoon. That's pretty high. I remember being about number 80 when I voted in the primary around the same time of day. What number were you? Where did you vote? Anything fishy going on out there?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Election predictions

With just one day left I thought I would go out on a limb and tell you which races I think are going to be close, and which races I think won't be so close. Of course, then you have to give me your predictions.

Matt Bradford is going to have a hard time fending off Jay Moyer in the 70th. Moyer really wants his old seat back and Bradford isn't playing so nice.

Rick Taylor is playing the same way so he's going to face a really tough challenge in Todd Stephens in the 151st.

The Patrick Murphy/Mike Fitzpatrick race for the 8th should be close as well.

Not so close; Tim Briggs should coast to victory in the 149th over Pete Kohut as will Kate Harper over Mary Lou Readinger in the 61st. Mike Vereb should win handily in the 150th over Andrea Baptiste.

As for lanslides; I don't see John Rafferty being even remotely challenged by newcomer Matt Stehman in the 44th district senate race.

Those are just a few, folks, but it's enough to get the conversation started.

Post your predictions below.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Don't let voting scare you

I'm trying to decide which is more scary, some of the costumes I've seen for Halloween or the campaign attack ads I've seen on TV. You guys know what side of the aisle I sit on, but I want all of you to know that I have never once voted a straight ticket. In the interest of full disclosure, I have punched very few holes, now buttons, for Democrats, but never the less, I have on a few occasions. I happen to believe in smaller government at all levels. What do you believe in (politically speaking) and how will you vote on Tuesday?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Montco commissioner's chair gets a taste of his own medicine

There's not much more to say than what I said in my column this morning. It's getting such a great response that I thought I would post it here as well. Take a look and let me know what you think. Here's the link, By the way, the first sentence isn't exactly accurate. I do have a few more things to say, that is if I need to, but I'm willing to let it end here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Paging Common Sense. Has anyone seen common sense?

If you were driving in a rain storm and you came upon a road completely covered in water with no way of knowing how deep it was would you a.) turn around or b.) attempt to drive right through it?

If you were hiking in the woods and saw a bear a hundred yards in front of you would you a.) turn around or b.) keep walking because nothing is going to spoil your walk?

If you drop a knife while working in the kitchen do you a.) jump out of the way as if your life depended on it, or b.) try to catch it?

If you answered ‘a’ to all of the above,you may read the rest of my column at

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lower Providence Supervisors won't be criminally charged

Montgomery County's district attorney will not charge Colleen Eckman and Don Thomas in connection with the campaign battle waged against former township supervisor Craig Dininny and his running mate, James Dougherty. That doesn't mean J.P. Mascaro and Son's will drop its civil suit against Eckman and Thomas, though. The pair accused employees of the company of funding their opponent's campaign. While that is perfectly legal, it is a no no under the Pennsylvania election code for companies to fund political campaigns. So, if defamation is not a criminal offense, will it hold up in a civil court?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thomas Jefferson, the last true Republican

Since this column is getting so much reaction I thought I would post a link to it here and get some additional response. I know my readers always have an opinion or two, so chime in, please.

Monday, August 2, 2010

No need for Wikileaks in Norristown

I thought I would put this out for discussion this week. The press does their own digging on a routine basis, but without people willing to come forward some stories just wouldn't be told. Check out the link below and throw in your two cents.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Consulting for dollars

Montgomery County (PA) approves a new contract for a health care consulting firm, guaranteeing them somewhere around $365,000 to tell them what? That they should go with the health care firm they're already using? C'mon, this is getting more and more ridiculous by the day. The leadership in this county is failing us. There's a budget shortfall but we're paying a consultant to give us the lowdown on the health care company the county has been using for years.
I have half a mind to run for county commissioner myself. Will you back me? I mean seriously, half a mind is about all I'd need to do better than what we have now. I guarantee you this kind of stuff would come to a screeching halt.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Round up time

As we head into the weekend let's take a moment to catch up. When you get a minute leave a comment on one of the below questions.

Why is the Norristown Area School District taking 30 days to respond to a Right To Know request for the needed repairs for Roosevelt Field?

Why are we not hearing anything out of the county about the multiple accusations leveled at commissioner's Chairman Jim Matthews?

Why is Norristown taking forever to respond to the disaster that is 770 Sandy St.?

Why is West Norriton fighting putting a stadium in at the high school?

Take your pick, or ask your own question. I'm just trying to keep the conversation lively!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Today, we declare our independence

OK, that was a little dramatic, and a little early, but we are in a way declaring our independence at The Times Herald with the Ben Franklin Project. We're breaking the chains that bind us to the proprietary systems that have held newspapers back for the past decade and breaking out on our own to bring you your news your way. How about you telling us where you think the biggest traffic headaches are in your community? Send an e-mail to Who has the best cheese steak in your community? Send an e-mail to Who was the best athlete at your high school, and why? Send an e-mail to What does Independence Day mean to you? Send an e-mail to We will be declaring our independence on Independence Day and we want you to be an integral part of the project. This is just the beginning, folks. It's time you started receiving Your News Your Way.

Friday, June 4, 2010

My own version of the Tea Party movement

Here it is, plain and simple.

Increase the sales tax to 8 percent and include clothing.

All of you ‘regressive tax’ naysayers need to keep reading before you start e-mailing me.

I can’t believe I walk into the King of Prussia Mall, that is after I walk past all the Mercedes Benz,’ Hummers and Porches, and watch what must be literally hundreds of thousands of dollars a year walk out the door without a single tax dollar being collected.

Are you kidding me?

Where is the common sense, here, folks? And yes I meant to drop the reference to Thomas Paine’s eloquently written masterpiece.

Look folks, adding two cents on the dollar is not going to keep even the poorest of people from eating, so you can drop the ‘regressive tax’ argument right into the harbor.

I ordered an external hard drive for one of my sons a couple of weeks ago from Best Buy. It cost $79.99. When the bill came it was $79.99. Really? An eight percent tax would have brought the total to $86.39. How many millions of dollars would the state collect each year based on an 8 percent tax on electronics alone?

We the people have been sitting around the harbor for far too long, taking what’s been dished out as if we didn’t have any other option.

We do.

This is still our country, and we need to act like it.

Call it a tea party, call it a property party, call it whatever you like, (That’s where I need the help I was asking for earlier, you have to have a catchy name for your movement.) but we need to get our collective acts together and throw all the taxing bodies into the local harbor and not let them back onto dry land until they figure out that we’re actually in charge.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Teaching lessons

Teachers play a significant role in the formation of our children. Their jobs are tough, I know, I was a substitute for a while when I was at the University of North Texas. They work long hours, but they get a lot of time off in the summer. Most teachers are dedicated professionals, and I say most only because in any profession there are people who simply don't belong. Teachers are taxpayers, too, so they feel it every time the school district raises property taxes.
I wanted to put all of that on the table so someone doesn't read into this post that I don't like teachers. This post is really for teachers. This is a brief explanation of why you're feeling unappreciated. Every time you go to the well for pay increases all of our property taxes go up, and yes, I know that includes yours as well. Here's the real reason you're not feeling the love right now; you're asking for too much. No one wants to hear that you want to pay less for your health care. No one wants to hear that you want 4, 5 and 6 percent raises. Just be reasonable. That's all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

PA getting out of the liquor business?

Direct from the state legislature, courtesy, Bob Godshall.

Rep. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) unveiled legislation this week to privatize the wholesale and retail operations of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). The bill would auction off 100 wholesale distribution licenses and 750 retail store licenses to the highest responsible bidders. The auction of the licenses is expected to bring in a minimum of $2 billion in revenue. Tax changes under the bill are predicted to generate $500 million annually; the current system brings in approximately $375 million in tax revenue. Presently, the PLCB owns and operates 621 state stores throughout the Commonwealth and is responsible for the purchase and distribution of all wine and spirits within the state. The sale and distribution of beer would not be affected by the legislation.

I'm all for this; the state shouldn't be in the liquor business anyway. Open it up to competition and we all win.

What's your take?

Friday, April 16, 2010

How about a spot of tea?

Tea Party members from all across the country demonstrated on April 15. While there have been alleged members of the group spouting hate at some of the rallies, for the most part they have been pulled off without a hitch. I write about the Tea Party movement in my April 19 column in The Times Herald. So, here's my question. As we argue about the fringe element of the group are we missing the message? Is that by design? I'm not happy with the direction this country is headed in, are you? OK, that was three questions; take your pick of which one you want to answer.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sen. Specter's Visit

Sen. Arlen Specter will visit us today for an editorial board meeting. We want to open up a portion of the meeting to you, our readers. If you had the chance, what would you ask the Senator? Please post your question here and I'll try to fit it into the interview.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fringe benefits?

The benefit of the doubt is getting harder to give,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blurry Lines

So, where is the line, The way I see it I could run for office, build up a nice campaign war chest and use it to pay off my house, my car, whatever. Why would anyone (and by that I mean individuals, not corporations) give to any campaign?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Trash Talk

Good morning Lower Providence. Good morning East Norriton and good morning Philadelphia.
How about some open debate for a change?
What are the merits of having one trash hauler as opposed to having your choice of several?
Here's what I'm thinking.
I live in West Norriton. We have our pick of about a half dozen trash haulers. For us, that means we can drop anyone we don't like at anytime in an effort to get better service and a better price. You know what else that means? I don't think there's a day that goes by without a trash truck rumbling down my street before the crack of dawn.
Now, Lower Providence just renewed its contract with one trash hauler. If the township supervisors were doing their due diligence, which I have no reason to believe they weren't, and a quick Right To Know request would clear it up in a minute, then residents of Lower Providence are getting the best price, and possibly the best service for their buck. And if they're not happy with either they can re-bid the contract.
East Norriton, you're debating whether to go with a single trash hauler. So for residents I guess the question is whether you trust your elected officials to make the right decision.
Philadelphia is struggling so the mayor wants to start charging $300 a year for trash collection. My only response is that I'm pretty sure they're already being taxed to pay for collection so why is the city trying to double dip into residents pockets?
The lines are now open. Where do you stand?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Angus found on Schuylkill Expressway

Check out the power of social networking,, and a heartwarming story.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Citizen Journalism Redux

Here's where journalism is headed in a hurry, We, and by we I mean the newspaper industry, will not lose our core values as we catapult ourselves into the 21st Century.
Thomas Jefferson once said, "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not for a moment hesitate to prefer the latter." We will keep fighting the good fight, no matter the platform.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Remembering a friend

My tribute to Montgomery County Sheriff John Durante, Please feel free to share.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Snow job

So, how good of a job did your town do plowing your streets? I live in West Norriton and I'd have to give them at least a "B." I won't go to an "A" because, well, I hardly rank anything as the best, and we still have mountains of snow in our development. I thought they were sending in front-end loaders to haul some of it a way, but I guess not. Anyway, how about your town. I think a "B" is a pretty darn good grade, did your town do any better?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Citizen journalism

Have you ever thought you have what it takes to do what we do? Or maybe, you think you can do it better than we do it! We're kicking around the idea of bringing in a group of people to talk about citizen journalism, which basically is defined as journalism in the hands of every day citizens. While that is a scary concept for a hardcore journalist to accept, we're not talking about bringing in people to do investigative journalism, we're talking about having a troop of citizens looking out for news in their neighborhoods, kind of a rookie journalist who has more will power than training. I know there are at least a dozen or so residents in Lower Providence who fit the description. How about the rest of you? You don't seem to want to talk about Obama's state of the union address, so how about chiming in here?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Obama turning a corner?

I closed my eyes while listening to President Obama's speech and for a very short moment there I thought I was listening to a Republican. He was actually touting small business as the economic engine that will pull this country out of the recession. A capitalist if ever I heard one. Your thoughts on the speech?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Play nice, please

OK, kids. If you can't play nice I'm going to have to put you in time out. Seriously, watch the personal attacks. I don't like them and I will continue to remove them.

Speaking of playing nice, I'm not really sure who gave CBIZ the go ahead to play with the county's money. It looks like nobody right now, and it looks like there weren't any requests for proposals sent out to insurance companies.

If I'm wrong, I'd sure like to know. Perhaps someone from CBIZ could give me a call?