heightened awareness

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This post has nothing to do with Chester County, per se.  It is just one of those things that makes me think. It made me think of a girl who once lived in Bryn Mawr. A girl who was raped and murdered in her dorm room at prestigious Lehigh University in 1986.  Jeanne Clery.

At the time, it shocked everyone who heard about this even if you had never met the girl. She was the same age give or take a year as my own sister who attended another not so far away prestigious Pennsylvania college. This girl was also but a few years younger than I was and was from the same area I grew up in: the Main Line. You just don’t think about nice Main Line girls from Main Line prep schools going away to college and getting raped and murdered do you? Especially at schools like Lehigh, right?

The story of Jeanne Clery galvanized the greater Philadelphia area and the country.  Eventually, on July 22, 1988, the murderer of Jeanne Clery was sentenced to death after being convicted of her murder.

In the years which have followed, Jeanne Clery’s parents Howard and Constance Clery have devoted their lives to campus safety. As People Magazine wrote at the time:

During the trial, he and his wife learned about the lapses in security at Lehigh, and shortly after the verdict was announced, they filed a $25 million suit against the college for negligence. It was to be the first round in a campaign that would touch state legislatures, colleges and concerned parents across the country. The Clerys had lost a daughter, but the loss ignited a cause.

The suit was settled out of court (the family is prohibited from disclosing the amount), but the Clerys were not ready to close the book. They used the cash, as well as their own money, to launch Security on Campus, Inc., a nonprofit clearing house for information and advice. They began lobbying state lawmakers for statutes requiring colleges to publicize their crime statistics—not a detail generally found in cheery recruitment brochures—and in May 1988, Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey signed the first such bill mandating that all state colleges and universities publish three-year campus-crime reports. In addition, schools are required to have clear policies regarding alcohol and drug consumption on campus. Three more states have followed Pennsylvania’s lead, 21 others have statutes in the works, and the Clerys have already begun campaigning for a federal bill as well.

 

It is because of the perseverance of the Clery family that the Jeanne Clery Act came to be. As per The Clery Center for Security on Campus: 

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (20 USC § 1092(f)) is the landmark federal law, originally known as the Campus Security Act, that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. The law is tied to an institution’s participation in federal student financial aid programs and it applies to most institutions of higher education both public and private. The Act is enforced by the United States Department of Education.

The law was amended in 1992 to add a requirement that schools afford the victims of campus sexual assault certain basic rights, and was amended again in 1998 to expand the reporting requirements. The 1998 amendments also formally named the law in memory of Jeanne Clery. Subsequent amendments in 2000 and 2008 added provisions dealing with registered sex offender notification and campus emergency response. The 2008 amendments also added a provision to protect crime victims, “whistleblowers”, and others from retaliation.

 

 

What made me think of Jeanne Clery and all her family has accomplished after all of these years? Two disturbing stories of sexual assault on college campuses.  One from May 2014 in Philadelphia Magazine about Swarthmore College and a recent front page story in The New York Times on Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Excerpts:

Rape Happens Here PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE

For 150 years, leafy, progressive Swarthmore College tried to resolve student conflicts in the best Quaker tradition — peacefully and constructively. Then came 91 complaints of sexual misconduct. In a single year.

BY SIMON VAN ZUYLEN-WOOD | APRIL 24, 2014

In the early 1980s, staff members in one of Swarthmore’s libraries began hanging reams of white computer paper in the bathroom stalls, which students would use to gossip about cute boys or gripe about homework. A few years ago, pieces of white paper of a different sort began appearing in campus bathrooms. They’re printed up by the administration and emblazoned with the words SEXUAL ASSAULT RESOURCES…

As the issue of campus assault gains national media traction, stories about incompetent or callous administrators have become bleakly — almost numbingly — familiar. ….The unrest that’s roiled the little U.S. News & World Report juggernaut 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia over the past year — including dozens of allegations of student-on-student sexual assault, two federal investigations, two student-filed federal lawsuits, and four (unprecedented) expulsions for sexual misconduct — nominally revolves around a campus rape problem and an administration accused of abetting it. But the conflict in fact runs deeper: Swarthmore’s 150-year-old Quaker-inspired governing philosophy has collided with the far less forgiving demands of contemporary campus life.

….ON APRIL 25, 2013, Swarthmore sophomores Hope Brinn and Mia Ferguson stood on Independence Mall in Philadelphia and told assembled media that the college had badly mishandled claims of sexual assault; in response, they were bringing a Title IX complaint to the federal government. This was just days after the duo filed a separate Clery Act complaint alleging that Swarthmore had systematically underreported such incidents. The complaints were part of a larger strategy — they later met with high-profile attorney Gloria Allred — in which Brinn, Ferguson and a couple dozen co-complainants aimed to use their personal stories to shame and ultimately reform their college.

Ferguson, from Brookline, Massachusetts, wrote an op-ed, “Raped and Betrayed,” for a student newspaper. Brinn, from Wilmington, Delaware, stood before the school’s board and told how she was sexually assaulted, stalked, and then met with “grave indifference” by the administration. Within a couple months, the Department of Education began investigating the school for Clery and Title IX violations. The controversy only increased when the New York Times ran a story in which Ferguson suggested that she had been denied a campus job in retaliation for her activism. By the end of the year, it seemed everyone was lobbing one accusation or another at Swarthmore. In 2012, 11 incidents of sexual assault were reported to the school’s public safety department. In 2013, that number — covering everything from harassment to rape — spiked to 91. (One-third of them concerned incidents from previous years.)….“Sally,” a 2012 graduate, said she was at a party in the fall of her freshman year when a fellow student cornered her, pushed her against a wall, and began to kiss her…Later that night, Sally awoke to find the same student had entered her room and climbed on top of her. She managed to push him off. When she told associate dean Myrt Westphal she wanted to pursue charges through the College Judiciary Committee (CJC), she says, Westphal asked her to say “harassment” rather than “assault,” and questioned whether she really wanted to “pit her two friends against each other.” Discouraged, Sally declined to pursue judiciary action. (Westphal, who retired last spring, declined to comment.)

Similar stories are legion. Jean Strout, a 2010 graduate now studying at Harvard Law School, says that after she was pinned to the ground by a naked, drunk rugby player, she spoke to a male administrator by phone, who told her it sounded like a “misunderstanding” and that she should ask the offender for an apology.

A recent graduate who now practices law in New York City says that when she told an administrator she had been raped, the administrator said, “You don’t sound as if you were raped,” and, noticing the cross hanging around her neck, asked if she wanted to see a priest…..However, after months of conversations she calls “frustrating” and “invalidating,” she ultimately declined to pursue it: “I was tired of fighting, and wanted to focus on healing.”

Another student, according to the Title IX complaint, was raped in her dorm room by a friend of a friend with alcohol on his breath. Before he left the room, he looked at her, smiled, and told her, “It’s your word against mine.” After she recounted the incident in a long email to a member of the administration, her complaint says, school officials never got in touch with her or did any investigation.

 

 

(in both publications, these are HUGE articles, click on the hyperlinks above each excerpt to read then in their entirety.)

 

The New York Times:

Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t
How One College Handled a Sexual Assault Complaint
By WALT BOGDANICHJULY 12, 2014

GENEVA, N.Y. — She was 18 years old, a freshman, and had been on campus for just two weeks when one Saturday night last September her friends grew worried because she had been drinking and suddenly disappeared.

Around midnight, the missing girl texted a friend, saying she was frightened by a student she had met that evening. “Idk what to do,” she wrote. “I’m scared.” When she did not answer a call, the friend began searching for her.

In the early-morning hours on the campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in central New York, the friend said, he found her — bent over a pool table as a football player appeared to be sexually assaulting her from behind in a darkened dance hall with six or seven people watching and laughing. Some had their cellphones out, apparently taking pictures, he said.

Later, records show, a sexual-assault nurse offered this preliminary assessment: blunt force trauma within the last 24 hours indicating “intercourse with either multiple partners, multiple times or that the intercourse was very forceful.”…It took the college just 12 days to investigate the rape report, hold a hearing and clear the football players. The football team went on to finish undefeated in its conference, while the woman was left, she said, to face the consequences — threats and harassment for accusing members of the most popular sports team on campus….

At a time of great emotional turmoil, students who say they were assaulted must make a choice: Seek help from their school, turn to the criminal justice system or simply remain silent. The great majority — including the student in this case — choose their school, because of the expectation of anonymity and the belief that administrators will offer the sort of support that the police will not.

Yet many students come to regret that decision, wishing they had never reported the assault in the first place.

 

For women to report sexual assault at any age is traumatizing.  Read articles about the topic and you learn the common denominator: victims are often victimized again through any judicial process. But what we are talking about here is on college and university campuses. Which in my mind is always geared first to protect the school and administration.

So as far as we have come in this country with things like the Clery Act and heightened awareness on the topic, it seems like many colleges and universities are still treating issues like this poorly if not sweeping them under the carpet? Remember the 2007 front page stories of the Villanova football players accused of raping a girl in her dorm room? Remember but a few days later the victim halted the rape case?

The Philadelphia Inquirer at the time reported on it and said in a July 27, 2007 article: 

A Villanova University student who told the school that she had been raped by three incoming freshman football players, who have since been kicked out of school, does not want to press charges, Radnor police said yesterday…..Villanova’s department of public safety does not have arrest powers, he said. Radnor police are working with the District Attorney’s Office to clarify Villanova’s obligation to report allegations of serious crimes, he said.

……For colleges, whose capital lies in their reputations, the only thing worse than a scandal is getting caught trying to hush one up.

At Eastern Michigan University, president John Fallon and two other senior officials were fired last week for covering up the rape and murder of a 22-year-old woman in her dorm room in December. The university denied knowledge of foul play for 10 weeks to protect the school’s image, according to a federal investigation.

Schools typically “keep as quiet as they can” about crime on campus, said Kathryn Reardon, senior lawyer at the Victim Rights Law Center in Boston, which provides legal aid to alleged sexual-assault victims.

Villanova’s handling of the matter “seems pretty speedy,” she said.

 

The Swarthmore College article by Philadelphia Magazine and the New York Times article on Hobart William Smith has ignited this topic once again.

In 1986 I was much younger and what happened to Jeanne Clery was seen from the scary perspective of that girl was my sister’s age and only a few years younger than me.  The recent Philadelphia Magazine article and New York Times article hits me as an adult who not only had friends that attended both of those schools but have friends who have kids of their own or nieces and nephews and even grand children at these schools today.

The Hobart and William Smith article in the New York Times was very hard for me to read. I remember going there back in the day to visit friends from high school and I remember how much my friends loved the school.  I remember how terrific I thought the school was and how pretty the campus was.  And now, decades later, these same friends, male and female are horrified by the New York Times article.

So is this a case of everything that is old is new again? Even as far as we have come with raising awareness on college campuses and laws on the books about how and what campuses must report and so on, are we still dealing in the murky waters of reality versus the veritable machines that are colleges and universities?  After all, negative little things like crime can really hurt the old ratings, rankings, grants, and donations right?

But as a newish parent person  now I have to ask, would you rather deal with a school that tells the truth and acknowledges issues or covers it up and makes everything seem all ivy walled and bucolic with Skip and Sissy walking down a brick lined path to class holding hands?

As someone who was a young adult when Jeanne Clery was murdered I think I would rather have the truth, please.  After all, for what parents fork over in tuition, don’t they deserve the truth? And our kids, don’t they deserve the truth and don’t you want them to feel and be safe, especially if they have to report something heinous like an assault?

Anyway, this made me think about this topic again, and I guess I just don’t get these schools.  I get they want to protect their hallowed halls but the truth shall set them free, right? It makes me wonder how honest schools around this country are with their Clery Act reporting.

Also worth reading? A great piece on the topic in Slate.

Excerpt:

Slate: New York Times Reports Another Campus Sexual Assault Horror Story. Now We Need the Data.
By Emily Bazelon

Can universities handle their role as independent investigators and adjudicators of sexual assault? You may conclude that the answer is no after you read Walt Bogdanich’s big story in the New York Times about the aftermath of an alleged assault at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York. It’s called “Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t” because from the point of view of Anna, the student who says she was victimized, her school did almost everything wrong….What a disappointing, dismaying mess. And yet, I’m not ready to give up on the whole university adjudication system. People ask me all the time why universities have any responsibility for dealing with rape accusations in the first place. These are serious allegations. Shouldn’t they be in the hands of police, prosecutors, and judges? The answer is that there are supposed to be two parallel tracks. It’s not either/or. In passing and enforcing Title IX, the federal law that’s a shield against sex discrimination in an educational setting, Congress gave schools an independent obligation to investigate allegations of sexual assault and harassment. That doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t also be a police investigation.

 

Stories like Anna’s make the schools look at best bumbling and insensitive, and at worst like craven slaves to their own images and, too often, their athletic departments. I should also say that male students have complained of being falsely accused, railroaded by school judicial procedures, and unjustly expelled. Still, before we give up on colleges, Congress and the Department of Education, which oversees Title IX, should demand transparency. We hear horror stories about individual cases but we don’t have the data to know what’s happening across the board.

 

Then of course there is the rather predictable I-really-didn’t- beat-my-spouse response in the New York Times from Hobart and William Smith’s Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees:

Re “Reporting Rape, and Wishing She Hadn’t” (front page, July 13):

The Hobart and William Smith Colleges community is heartbroken by our student’s experience, and we deeply regret the pain she has suffered. Her experience does not reflect the environment, values and traditions we have built and maintained for nearly two centuries at Hobart and William Smith. As an alumna, a proud mother of a daughter who graduated from HWS, and chairwoman of the board of trustees, I write with a heavy heart.

Like all colleges and universities, HWS is challenged to ensure that we are meeting the demands of a shifting legal landscape — especially in the area of sexual assault — as we also work to meet the needs of students while fostering a safer and more collegial learning environment.

We welcome the conversation about whether higher education should even have a role in adjudicating cases like this one. However, until federal law changes, we are required to carry out internal investigations and adjudicate cases based on the preponderance of evidence standard, as we did in this case.

 

….MAUREEN COLLINS ZUPAN
Chairwoman, Board of Trustees
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva, N.Y., July 15, 2014

There are more letters underneath that one, but that was enough to share. I hate to say it but it seems that Maureen Collins Zupan has more empathy for a Somalian refugee that was cleaning her office ladies room in September 2011, than she does for women on the college campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges?

She wrote about that Somalian woman:

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In all fairness I wouldn’t want to be president of the board of trustees of this school right now for all the tea in China, and perhaps her response was in part crafted by the college’s spin doctors and image consultants?  It’s not as if all she was saying is wrong, to me it was kind of sort of HOW she said it. She calls herself a feminist, mother, daughter, and so on.  I have never met a true feminist yet who would sit still for something like this do you?

Also worth reading? A June 10th essay in The Atlantic.

All She Said Was No
A dangerous misunderstanding of sexual assault
JAMES HAMBLINJUN 10 2014, 1:35 PM

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George Will wrote in The Washington Post on Sunday that being sexually assaulted has become “a coveted status that confers privileges” such that “victims proliferate.” His remarks hit at the core of the misunderstanding and denial that condone sexual assault in its most common form:

Consider the supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. “sexual assault.” Herewith, a Philadelphia magazine report about Swarthmore College, where in 2013 a student “was in her room with a guy with whom she’d been hooking up for three months”…Six weeks later, the woman reported that she had been raped.Now the Obama administration is riding to the rescue of “sexual assault” victims. It vows to excavate equities from the ambiguities of the hookup culture, this cocktail of hormones, alcohol, and the faux sophistication of today’s prolonged adolescence of especially privileged young adults.

That Swarthmore vignette is sexual assault—not “sexual assault.” Most sexual assault is perpetrated by an acquaintance, not a masked man in the bushes with a knife, and its definition hinges not on physical force but absence of consent. This is a quintessential example of the shape sexual assault takes when it goes unreported and unpunished. Apart from editorial missteps like using skeptical quotes around sexual assault, and accusing an entire generation of faux sophistication while using “herewith” in a thoughtless take on a critical public-health issue, citing the Philadelphia rape story is fraught in that its resonating importance comes in the paragraphs just after Will stops quoting it.

….According to a report today from the U.S. Department of Education, the number of sexual assaults reported on college campuses increased by 50 percent between 2001 and 2011—from 2,200 to 3,300 cases. That’s actually more heartening than disconcerting, in that it’s unlikely that sexual assault increased by that much; rather, more victims are coming forward. They come forward when they don’t feel they’ll be blamed for being raped, dismissed as drunken sluts, and when there are appropriate outlets for reporting and justice. But it’s still underreported and underpunished, thus condoned.

 

 

James Hamblin makes a whole lot of sense.  The US Department of Education and US Department of Justice report can be found by clicking on this link here.

We can’t and shouldn’t helicopter parent  and can’t wrap them away from the world in cotton wool, but kids should not only learn quite clearly that no isn’t necessarily a negotiation and should mean NO, but they should be as safe as humanly possibly on college campuses.

Remember Jeanne Clery.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

so sunoco isn’t sleazy and sunoco isn’t sunoco?

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We just celebrated the 4th of July which celebrates our freedoms in this country and apparently Sunoco officials don’t care for free speech and freedom of opinion? And maybe they don’t like that eminent domain word but what did they expect when they went to the Public Utility Commission to try to get around local zoning? Seriously?

There is this new article in the Inquirer about SuNOco, and apparently SuNOco isn’t SuNOco and isn’t sleazy? So is this pipeline is a mirage then? Are we imagining all the road disruptions and closures and all the public meetings are really the meeting of the quilting society or something?

I am very confused.

A rose by any other name and all that?
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Apparently SuNOco’s public image is taking a beating? Does that mean their retail business is feeling a pipeline pinch?

It is up to personal choice if Chester County and other Pennsylvania residents choose to patronize other gas stations, right? We don’t live in a communist or otherwise single state run country where we have no choice as to where we buy gas, do we? Did they ever consider in addition to image issues that a good percentage of the time their gas is also just more expensive than other gas retailers?

So now will SuNOco that isn’t really SuNOco be buzzing around changing the corporate branding on their pipeline property sites like the sign seen every day at a crossroads in Upper Uwchlan? And what of the Sunoco Logistics website with the teeny tiny Sunoco logo we all know so well?

And while they are answering questions, what is it precisely they do with endangered wildlife when they find it (or more appropriately it is pointed out to them) ? Someone told me they were told the wildlife (like bog turtles and such) is moved someplace and then brought back to the habitat in which they were discovered? Is this true and how do they know which wildlife goes where down to the individual creature?

This Philadelphia Inquirer article today gives many the vision of a corporate shell game doesn’t it? And is the talking head of the split personality oil company the same guy who used to be an amazing reporter for the paper now making him the news?

So who is SuNOco? And if they want a better corporate image maybe they shouldn’t be trying to force feed Pennsylvania residents a pipeline? Could it be a lot of this petroleum posturing is that this just isn’t residents saying no? Could it be SuNOco is a little nervous that politicians from all over on both sides of the political aisle are starting to speak out too? Could they be nervous that the residents objecting are growing daily in numbers and esteemed environmentalists are taking their side?

Sorry SuNOco, sorry SuNOco PR team, people are unified about not wanting you in Chester County no matter what you call yourselves aren’t they? Welcome to a public relations hell of your own creation and seriously what did you think was going to happen? That everyone was just going to be o.k. with your taking people’s land and adding flare stacks in densely populated areas? Did you think a county that has a large percentage of residents on wells wouldn’t be concerned about pipelines and so on? Maybe you have a friend in Governor Corbett but not everyone else is feeling so chummy?

Great article Philadelphia Inquirer!

Philadelphia Inquirer: Sunoco fights connection to pipeline firm
By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
POSTED: July 06, 2014

Sunoco’s good corporate name is taking a beating these days, as community activists and bloggers post snarky statements under headlines like “Sleazy Sunoco,” linking the company to fracking and eminent domain …..in the hands of careless journalists and picket-sign painters, the companies all just become “Sunoco.”

According to brand consultants and public-image experts, Sunoco the fuel retailer faces a big challenge disassociating itself from the actions of its corporate doppelgänger…..Sunoco Pipeline, a Sunoco Logistics subsidiary, has asked the PUC to declare it a public utility to bypass local zoning restrictions. ….”Sunoco, Sunoco Logistics, Sunoco Pipeline?” said Tom Casey, a leader of the community opposition. “There’s a lot of confusion about who’s doing this. Who are these people?”

Casey had heard company officials explain that Sunoco Inc. and Sunoco Logistics are two separate companies, with different missions. Then a public-affairs officer handed him a business card that identified him as a Sunoco Logistics employee. The other side of the card identified him with Sunoco Inc.

“He has the same job with both companies at two different addresses,” Casey said. “That’s confusing.”……..If this bothers Sunoco, its spokesman, Jeff Shields, is not letting on too much.

Nor is the spokesman for Sunoco Logistics, the selfsame Jeff Shields, who said in an e-mail that the pipeline company “is proud of its roots with a company and a name that has represented good corporate citizenship and American prosperity for more than a century.”…Sunoco Logistics, which was spun off as a separate company, is still contractually obligated to support Sunoco’s retail operations. But its new ventures, such as the Mariner East project, are unrelated to its former parent company.

Both are now units of Energy Transfer Partners L.P., a Dallas company that bought Sunoco Inc. in 2012 and acquired the controlling interest in Sunoco Logistics……Sunoco Logistics could rename itself something else – say, SXL – to provide some cover for Sunoco. But image experts say crusader activists would see right through such a strategy.

“That would backfire on the company double time, because now the public’s suspicion of evil would be confirmed by the company’s efforts at deception,” said Rob Frankel, a Los Angeles branding expert…..Sunoco Inc. already has a long history of oil extraction, and so an association with a pipeline transporting hydraulically fractured Marcellus Shale gas liquids is not an image-altering event, said Oscar Yuan, a partner at New York brand consultant Millward Brown Vermeer.

20140707-110547-39947204.jpgSelect photos in this collage are courtesy of public photos of Just The Facts Please on Facebook of which this blog is not a spokesperson or representative, just a fan.

rose smoothie

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Bet the title got your attention, huh? Well this smoothie isn’t for people…it’s for rose bushes.

Yes, as in plants.

I have mentioned that banana peels are awesome junk food for roses. I told you I save my peels and just stash them in a plastic bag in the freezer until I need to feed the roses. Well, since my bushes have had their first blooms and one bush got beaten up by the roofers I decided today was the day.

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I used to dig the peels in around the base of each bush, but given the critter population living with woods and farmers’ fields I have developed a rose smoothie which I dig in around the base with a small spade I use to transplant seedlings.

The formula for the smoothie is I rough chop the peels and toss into the blender with whatever spent coffee grounds I have on hand and a couple of cups or so of very warm tap water. (I never drink flavored coffee and I would never recommend using artificially flavored coffee grounds. I don’t know how the artificial flavor chemicals would affect the plants.)

20140619-141544-51344382.jpgThe consistency of this smoothie for rose bushes should be on the thick side , but pourable. I don’t take my blended outside I pour the goop into a plastic pitcher. I then go around to each bush and dig a few ounces in around the base of each bush. I have a standard sized blender and only a few rose bushes right now, so one batch of rose smoothie is all I need every time I do this.

I will feed my roses this concoction every two weeks until Labor Day.

Now, I know people have this banana peel magic out on the Internet, but I want to tell you specifically how I first learned about this, which is easily twenty plus years ago thanks to a gardening article I read in the Wall Street Journal. Yes, the Wall Street Journal. Some of the best gardening articles I have ever read have been in the Wall Street Journal over the years.

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So in this article the writer was talking about caring for roses and mentioned banana peels. The writer cited as a source a book called Old Wives’ Lore for Gardeners by Maureen and Bridget Boland. The book was originally published in the 1970s in the United Kingdom but you can still find gently used copies on Amazon.com today. . I have the book and the companion book Gardeners’ Magic and Other Old Wives Lore by Bridget Boland.

Banana peels add calcium, magnesium, phosphates, silica, sulphur, and potassium. Spent (or used) coffee grounds are rich in similar nutrients (nitrogen, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium).

Anyway, if you grow roses, try this. And if you like fun vintage gardening books, find yourself a copy of Old Wives’ Lore for Gardeners.

Food for thought as I leave you for the day: do you miss the real gardening shows that used to be on television ? There used to be real gardening shows where hosts including Martha Stewart used to get out and dig flower beds, discuss plants, and so on. They would share tips. Today all it is all hardscaping , fake pre-cast pavers, and outdoor kitchens as far as the shows. No real horticulture. I miss the real gardening shows.

Thanks for stopping by!

they don’t make women like that anymore

20140415-153600.jpgSouth Philadelphia, July, 1935. My father is the little baby in everyone’s arms, and at that point less than a month old

Chester County is home to many cool artists, writers, filmmakers, and so on. One of my favorite contemporary authors is Lisa Scottoline. She calls Malvern home base.

I was drawn to Lisa’s books initially for the Philadelphia-area settings. But my affinity grew with the characters in her books who lived in the little neighborhoods in South Philadelphia like the one where my great aunts, Millie and Josie lived once upon a time. A lot of Lisa’s books had characters based in a way on her life experience and once she became a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, some of what she wrote was also based on her mother, Mary Scottoline.

I do not know Lisa Scottoline. I have met her at book signings over the years, including ones set up by my mother way back when she started to write. But her little nuggets of what can only be described as “growing-up Italian” have made me laugh, made me smile, and sometimes just shake my head over the years. Probably because I am half-Italian.

Lisa Scottoline fans learned via her author Facebook page that her mother, (known to readers as “Mother Mary”) passed away on April 13th, or Palm Sunday. I hate to say that is so Italian, but it’s so Italian. And I don’t mean that disrespectfully, it just to me, IS.

Here is an excerpt of Lisa Scottoline’s recent column:

Chick Wit: Mother Mary, down but never out By Lisa Scottoline, Inquirer Columnist POSTED: April 14, 2014

I am very sorry to have to tell you that Mother Mary’s health has taken a dramatic and unexpected turn for the worse, so this won’t be a funny column.

Except for the fact that she is at her funniest when times are darkest.

She’s been newly diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, has moved up north with me, and has entered hospice care at my house. Mercifully, Brother Frank, Daughter Francesca, and family and friends are all around her, and she is resting comfortably. So comfortably, in fact, that the hospice nurses, who are saints on wheels, cannot believe it. One nurse asked Mother Mary if she was having any pain – and she pointed to me……Please don’t think my tone herein is inappropriate. This has always been a column about family, the ups and downs, the laughter and the tears, and I think it’s appropriate to have both here, maybe even in the same sentence.

I would guess if you’re a fan of this column, and especially of Mother Mary, that you have a great sense of humor, and the Flying Scottolines have always handled disaster with humor. In fact, catastrophe is our middle name.

That’s why you pronounce the final E, to make it Italian.

I also know that many of you have gone through this heartbreaking journey yourselves. If you have, you already know that hospice plunges you into a world different from any other, filled with irony and incongruities.

I laughed and I cried when I read this column. It made me think once again of my great aunts who lived at 11th and Ritner. It also made me think of my father whom we saw through hospice at home too. It is a very intense time when a family member goes on hospice, but it isn’t all sad. It gives you some final and very lucky times with those you love.

Please read the entire column….especially if you come from peasant stock like me.

Today my friend Bonnie Cook wrote the obituary article on Mary Scottoline and here is an excerpt:

Mary Scottoline, 90, ‘Mother Mary’ to author Lisa Scottoline BONNIE L. COOK, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER POSTED: Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 1:08 AM

Mary Scottoline, 90, formerly of Bala Cynwyd, the hilarious, sometimes profane, larger-than-life maternal figure known to readers as “Mother Mary,” died Sunday, April 13, of lung cancer at the home of her daughter, Lisa, the author and Inquirer columnist.

“We are heartbroken to report that Mother Mary passed away at home this morning, though she was at peace and in the embrace of our love. We choose to remember her as here, making us laugh,” Lisa Scottoline said Monday on her Facebook page.

Mrs. Scottoline dealt with her final two weeks the way she did everything; she was cheerful, unfazed and funny.

Near the end, when she couldn’t speak, she communicated with family and caregivers by means of a whiteboard. How are you, they wanted to know.

“Aside from this crap, I’m doing fine,” her son Frank said she wrote.

The youngest of 19 children, Mrs. Scottoline grew up in a strict family in South Philadelphia. More or less ignored, she had to fight for attention….When daughter Lisa and Serritella wrote about the rough air between mothers and daughters in their Inquirer column, “Chick Wit,” and books including Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim, they found that Mrs. Scottoline’s persona flowed seamlessly onto the pages.

“She loved being in the book,” said Lisa Scottoline. “Her personality and spirit was big enough for any room twice over. She stood for a good, strong, funny woman.”

The stories resonated with readers, who found elements of Mrs. Scottoline in their own mothers.

Fifteen years ago, Mrs. Scottoline (pronounced Scott-a-LEE-nee) went south to Miami Beach to live with her son, Frank. She was very well-liked, he said. She enjoyed cooking Italian meals and pampering her pets.

She always said exactly what she felt. “Thank you for today,” she once told her son.

I took a large excerpt, I know, but this is a very cool piece about a woman I wish I had known, but at the same time over the years I felt I knew on some level because I had a couple of these no nonsense yet completely amazing little old Italian ladies in my life, my great aunts.

Mary Scottoline, like my great aunts was a force of nature. She leapt off the pages written by her daughter and granddaughter. And every single time I smiled and thought of my great aunts.

My great aunts were also very opinionated and matter of fact. My Aunt Josie had been the working girl while her sister, my Aunt Millie kept house. Josie was the most direct of the two. She was the strong one, and my Aunt Millie was the softer of the two, more ladylike. Aunt Millie always had one small bottle of Coca Cola at 4p.m. every day unless she was watching her figure, and at those times she would skip it.

The aunts never married and as was the tradition, the unmarried siblings lived in the house they were born in. The other character in their life play on Ritner Street (who also never married but had a girlfriend) was PJ, my Uncle Pat (Pasquale). PJ was a gruff and lovable guy who sometimes terrified me as a little kid. He did not have a mean bone in his body, but he liked to tease his little great nieces in his big gruff voice. He also did cool stuff like make wine in the basement. PJ died when I was pretty little. I think it would have been neat to know him as I got older.

The great aunts would say things like “you kids”. As I got older I realized that meant everyone under about 60 years old.

When we stayed with them as little girls we went to early mass. As in it was still dark outside. Hence the famous family joke “it’s holier when it’s earlier.”

Millie and Josie taught me to make pasta. By feel, basically. A little of this, a little of that, and rolled out by hand on the huge ceramic topped kitchen table. (I often wonder if that table is still in my father’s sister’s garage. It was such a big table that no one has had a kitchen big enough to hold it as far as I know.) Millie and Josie’s kitchen always smelled of a combination of tomato sauce and coffee. I loved that table and all it’s drawers.

Oh and speaking of that kitchen table? Did any of you out there love the movie “Moonstruck“? Remember the scenes when they hustled everyone into the kitchen to talk at the kitchen table over coffee? I am sorry but those kitchen table scenes to me are hysterical because as a kid I remember all the grown-ups sitting around the kitchen table solving weighty world issues….over coffee. You could never have enough coffee no matter what time of day or night. And Lordy, it was all high octane strong coffee. No decaf there.

They also had a canning kitchen in the basement and I remember my aunts putting up tomatoes and pickling hot peppers and cucumbers and things when I was little. The produce came from my Aunt Rose and Uncle Carl’s garden in Collegeville. Collegeville was referred to as “the country” in those days. No developments back then, and they originally backed up to a farm with horses. (Of course today Collegeville is like one big development, but it didn’t use to be.) Aunt Rose was one of their two sisters who married. The other sister was my grandmother, Beatrice.

When we were really little girls, my sister and I often spent New Year’s Eve with our great aunts and their other little old Italian lady friends. I remember one’s name was Tomasina. We got to stay up with them as they watched Dick Clark and whomever on the little black and white television in the kitchen. They would all be clustered around the kitchen table. I think they played cards sometimes. And they gave us watered down anisette at midnight to toast the New Year with them. And did I remember to say the kids weren’t allowed to touch the television sets? We weren’t.

In the summers, the great aunts would sit on the front stoop with folding lawn chairs, and all the other ladies and their families up and down the block would come out as well to escape the heat of the large, but not air-conditioned at the time South Philadelphia row houses. The street was alive with the music of voices in Italian and English, a cacophony of sound.

All of these Italian ladies were opinionated. They said it as they felt it, and it just was. But they were also the most compassionate, smart, and loving women.

They don’t make ladies like this anymore. I am very lucky I had a few in my life, even for a while.

So Mother Mary Scottoline, I did not know you in the traditional sense, but did know you in another sense through my own personal experiences with my great aunts and their friends. If I had any anisette in the house, I would raise a toast to you, as reading about you over the years has helped me keep my memories of my great aunts alive.

To my readers, thanks for stopping by on this rainy day. Always remember what you are from, it is a part of who you are.

sleazy sunoco

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So the photo above comes from a website called Protecting our Waters. It was taken after a Philadelphia protest in December, 2013. The protest was against Sunoco and the Mariner East pipeline, so I thought it was apropos.

Of course it makes me think if the pro-military and pro- peace folks can protest all the time unmolested in front of what I assume is the old courthouse in downtown West Chester, I don’t see why these folks rising up in East and West Goshen can’t do the same thing some day soon and invite the media.

Good old fashioned peaceful protests can accomplish a lot of attention grabbing.

My recent post on Sunoco and their little project has gotten me a lot of e-mail and even comments from folks fighting this in Dauphin County.

I have learned from Chester County residents who already have the older version of the pipeline a couple of interesting things: I thought (mistakenly and incorrectly) that if Sunoco used someone’s property that they paid rent annually to the property owner. I am told they don’t. I also wondered what happened when real estate changed hands. Apparently Sunoco doesn’t pay homeowners who inherit them in their backyards anything.

So basically, letting Sunoco in is like allowing cockroaches?

I wasn’t going to do anymore posting on this until I realized where some of the pipelines are actually supposedly going: right through the back yards of people in Marydell Farms in East Goshen who have properties that run to Boot Road. Those people don’t have backyards that are THAT deep.

Which brings me to something I didn’t want to point out: shame on East Goshen Township. All the environmental and safety issues aside, how can East Goshen officials just sit on their rear ends while residents have their property rights violated and property values potentially affected?

I go back to the thing about living out here and NOT being able to have natural gas lines for residential use leaving us with other energy choices like propane, pellet stoves, coal, oil, electric heat, but we can’t have natural gas to heat or cook with YET Sunoco can crisscross our county with pipelines that only THEY profit from? Residents HERE assume the risks to health, safety, and welfare. Residents here worry about environmental effects like will what Sunoco is doing affect those on wells and could it ever affect even public water supply? How does what they are doing affect our natural waterways like streams, creeks, rivers, ponds, lakes? How does what they do affect our wildlife?

And why is it Sunoco or other big oil companies doesn’t even seem to pay taxes on natural gas production in Pennsylvania? (Think of all the roads and schools that could get fixed as well as other things in Pennsylvania if stupid Harrisburg actually made these companies pay their way, right?)

Sunoco Pipeline plan draws political resistance Philadelphia Inquirer By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer April 5, 2014

An elaborate plan by Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. to transport Marcellus Shale natural gas liquids by pipeline across Pennsylvania to Marcus Hook is running into resistance.

The company’s subsidiary, Sunoco Pipeline L.P., last month filed an application with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to sidestep local zoning restrictions to build pump and valve control stations in 31 municipalities crossed by the pipeline.

Sunoco Pipeline argues that it is a “public utility corporation,” and that the PUC can exempt the construction of the above-ground structure from local zoning if it determines the buildings are “reasonably necessary for the convenience or welfare of the public.”….Two suburban Philadelphia state senators on Wednesday wrote to the PUC, contending that the exemptions would conflict with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in December upholding local zoning rights over oil and gas activity….Sunoco has asked the PUC for an expedited decision. Formal protests and petitions to intervene are due by April 21…..The Mariner project involves converting an existing eight-inch pipeline that carried fuel from Philadelphia refineries to Western Pennsylvania. The project requires about 45 miles of new pipeline in Western Pennsylvania. Sunoco’s efforts to acquire rights of way by eminent domain have run into resistance.

And the thing is this: this issue is way bigger than East Goshen, West Goshen, or just Chester County. This pipeline is coming from where? Ohio through to Marcus Hook? And what about the huge issue of those flare towers? Like the one they want to build in a residential neighborhood in West Goshen on Mary Jane Lane???

And then there are all those eminent domain whispers. Ugly, truly ugly.

I never thought I would say I am glad I no longer live in East Goshen, but given all the people who might be affected by this there (including friends) and in West Goshen, I am glad I no longer live in East Goshen.

The reality is those of us NOT in those municipalities are watching this, because this affects all of us potentially. And what do residents around here get as a benefit or upside? I am beginning to think not much.

I guess at the end of the day I am thinking Sunoco is just be sleazy at the expense of Chester County residents and residents all across Pennsylvania.

People should be able to say no.

West Goshen crowd boos Sunoco plan By Kendal Gapinski Daily Local Posted 4/04/2014

WEST GOSHEN – Sunoco Logistics Partners L.L.C. was granted a continuance Thursday night of its zoning hearing regarding a pump station it wants to put in at the corner of Boot Road and Route 202, much to the objection of hundreds of residents.

According to zoning board solicitor Mark Thompson, Sunoco originally appeared before the zoning hearing board three weeks ago and asked for the hearing to be continued to Thursday night. Between the last zoning hearing and Thursday, Sunoco submitted a request for continuance of the hearing. Thompson said he believed the reason for the request was to allow Sunoco time to find out answers to questions raised during the last hearing.

The project in the township, part of Sunoco’s Mariner East pipeline, includes the development of a pump enclosure, piping, valves and a vapor combustion system to be 34-feet high, according to the zoners….The pipelines would be repurposed to deliver natural gas liquids from Marcellus Shale areas in western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook refinery in Delaware County, Pennsylvania and New Castle County, Delaware….Resident Chris Pielli spoke out after the decision was made, saying the board should have rejected Sunoco’s request for a continuance, forcing Sunoco to start the zoning special exception process all over again.

“Let them reapply,” Pielli said.

The board granted Sunoco’s request for continuance, and the hearing will be continued on May 1 at 7 p.m. at the township building. The board said that Sunoco will be there to provide additional testimony and witnesses for the record, as well as give others who have been made party to the hearing a chance to present their case for the record.

Residents fighting this you need to write every elected official (and I would include all the gubernatorial candidates as there is a primary coming up) you can think of and also contact multiple media outlets. Give this issue the high profile it deserves. Check out the Castle Coalition.

Chester County deserves better than this, doesn’t it?

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mixed emotions

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I heard from Pat Biswanger. She has been elected the new President of the Board of the Chester County SPCA. I am very proud of my friend. Hope she doesn’t live to regret this, but I think she will do a good job.

However, and this is the mixed emotions of it all, Howard Nelson has been elected Board Vice President. I honestly feel and my opinion is this is a huge mistake. I don’t see him as a victory for homeless animals. I said before that Howard should have turned this down if he really wants people to believe the Howard from the PASPCA is not the Howard at the CCSPCA. I still feel that way and Howard, it is never too late to put ego aside and do the right thing.

This is Chester County’s shelter. I believe that the board leadership should have been split between Chester County and Delaware County as long as there is the contract, after that who knows?

And because it is Chester County’s shelter and they take donations from Chester County residents and the shelter is physically located in Chester County, I believe that Chester County should always be represented in board leadership. Now it is not, and I am sorry but I do NOT think that is right.

I have no problem with a general board composition that includes people who don’t necessarily live in Chester County who are animal advocates or professionals helpful to the shelter, but I do think because it is Chester County’s shelter that Chester County should always be part of board leadership.

Pat will do a good job. I simply have little faith in what’s his name given his past with the PASPCA.

But the horse is out of the barn.

I found this op-ed today and I would like to share it as it reminded me what was important (the animals, not the personalities):

Chester County needs to focus on animals by Joe Mason The Intellegencer

There is a huge issue going on at the Chester County SPCA.

From what I’ve read and from what I’ve been told, it’s the staff against the volunteers.

I don’t know who is going to win, but I can tell you now who is going to lose.

The animals.

The shelter staff has undergone a lot of changes over the past few months….Today, the SPCA is electing its new board president, and according to a letter I received that was mailed to the board, this vote goes a long way in deciding how many rescues will work with the shelter……I don’t care if the people who work at the SPCA hate the volunteers and rescues, and vice versa. That’s not important.

The entire reason for everyone being there is to make sure the animals get in, stay comfortable while they’re there, and get into a home or foster home as soon as possible.

It’s why the shelter is there.

It’s why the board is there.

It’s why the employees are there.

It’s why the volunteers are there.

And it’s why rescues are there.

So forget egos, forget agendas, forget rivalries and do whatever it takes to get everyone working together to place dogs and cats in situations where they can be loved and spoiled.

The last thing we need is animals not getting every chance at being saved because of a little bickering.

Good luck Pat. You are going to need it and a big bottle of ibuprofen for headaches as I am thinking chairing this board will be like herding cats. And speaking of cats, I might be a dogs rule kind of gal, but I think cats need more representation at CCSPCA.

 

UPDATE SUNDAY 3/30:

New SPCA board president says shelter can rebound

 

enough chester county spca, enough

ccspca pizap

Maybe I am post -surgical cranky, but I want to hear from State Senator Andy Dinniman and others on this.

I just had a WTF moment when a friend of mine texted me to let me know that the Chester County SPCA fired her (again) today. And oh yeah, they used the West Goshen Police Department to do it.

I am about to almost use a bad word: BULLSH*T

Once you get past the whole how-do-you-fire-volunteers of it all, I am stuck with how is it the Chester County SPCA continues to use a local police force like their own private security detail?????? (And yes my friend gave me one of the badge numbers but I am not disclosing this here as it is not the officer’s fault.)

Who is paying for this??? Are taxpayers/residents of West Goshen and Chester County on the hook for this misuse of municipal resources ???

I am completely and utterly disgusted. I hope the media eats the Chester County SPCA for breakfast. I hear some of the media is already working on stories.

I mean how can you get “people and animals together” when you keep using the local police as bouncers to fire volunteers?

And I thought it was bad when they used the police the last time…but two police cars to confront a woman????? REALLY????

hump day havoc: patch does mass layoffs

patchfiredCan you still call it AOL Patch?  I am not sure because they mostly sold out to an entity called Hale Global recently as per the Wall Street Journal.

USA Today said on January 15th:

AOL Inc. effectively abandoned its ambitious strategy of reinventing hyper-local news when it agreed Wednesday to sell a majority stake in the Patch website network to technology investment firm Hale Global.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed. The companies anticipate closing the deal in the first quarter.

The deal is touted as a joint venture between AOL and Hale Global, which says it specializes in turning around underperforming businesses…..

Hale Global and AOL say Patch will be relaunched as a place for contributors and businesses to create “locally-themed news and content.” ….”We are committed to bringing users, local businesses, writers and advertisers together into a Patch experience full of innovation and growth,” said Charles Hale, CEO of Hale Global, in a statement.

Well corporate raiders, acquirers, whatever you want to call them never seem to follow through on the warm and fuzzy moments do they?  With them and underperforming assets it is all about business. And the bottom line.

Well as of today all of our local Patch sites are kind of over.   The web pages are up but this morning AOL Patch did mass layoffs.  It is all over social media and the news is slowly trickling to traditional media.  It is “off with their heads” Wednesday.

Romenesko has covered it the best thus far.  He has a recording of “Hello You are Fired”

Part of what was said (courtesy of Romanesko):

Hi everyone, it’s  Leigh Zarelli Lewis. Patch is being restructured in connection with the creation of the joint venture with Hale Global…..Unfortunately, your role has been eliminated and you will no longer have a role at Patch and today will be your last day of employment with the company

Romanesko writes:

I’m told that hundreds — two tipsters claim two-thirds of the editorial staff — have been laid off by Patch’s new owner, Hale Global…

“The patch years were years of being aol’s tool and plaything. Killed myself, almost literally. Left with literally nothing. Better off dead.”

“I was a local editor for Patch for 3.5 years, up until about an hour ago. ….We knew it was coming, but the silence from New York over the few months was deafening. They left us in a state of suspended animation. For those of us who killed ourselves working for this company, it was a real slap in the face.”

I have many friends who worked with Patch since it’s inception.  Some were traditional journalists and writers by trade. People like Tom Walsh, who is now the Public Information Officer of Lower Merion Township. Or  former Managing Editor of Main Line Media News, Tom Murray and Sam Strike from the now defunct Suburban and Wayne Times, Tom Sunnergren, Anthony Leone. And more.

Heck, when Patch was in its embryo stage I was a freelancer for photos and occasional articles for mostly Ardmore Patch.

I have been critical of Patch in the past couple of years.  It had gone from being this wonderful hub of hyper-local news to a mish mosh of spelling and grammatical errors with very little emphasis on what was happening in the communities it was covering.  But yet, there were Patch sites that continued to stand out – locally Malvern Patch until Pete Kennedy left, Phoenixville Patch, Tredyffrin-Easttown PatchEast Hampton Patch and Radnor Patch.

If I had to pick my favorite it would have been Radnor Patch, where Sam Strike was editor.  She is a friend and I have always loved her writing and photography skills.

If I had to pick a golden time for a lot of the local Patch sites, it would have been when Tom Murray was a Regional Editor.  A real newspaper guy, he really taught me how to write when I used to contribute to then Main Line Life Newspaper.

But this morning for my remaining friends at Patch like Sam Strike it was “hello, you must be going, you are fired.”

Sam Strike wasn’t the only fine Patch person who got the axe today.  Bob Byrne of Tredyffrin Patch and it looks like West Chester Patch and Malvern Patch and the list goes on. Basically if you go to Patch, click on the editor’s hyper link. It goes to an “oops there is nothing here” page. That is how I am counting up who is gone from our region.

I have been in touch with some of the Patch people I knew today.  Tom Sunnergren who now writes  for places like ESPN.com and hibu (you know those Malvern Life and similar “Life” magazines we get in the mail now once in a while?) and I spoke this afternoon for a few minutes.

Tom said he left Patch  in August 2013 for a new position and when he thought he saw the final handwriting start to appear on the wall. He told me he believes all the Patch editors in our region is gone. He said enjoyed his experience at Patch, they gave it the “college try”.  He remarked towards the end of his tenure there was a period of mixed directives that was hard on editors.

We spoke about Patch being almost a social experiment after a fashion.  He remarked it would serve as a cautionary tale to the next group that tried this hyper-local formula.

Not to armchair quarterback but at first Patch had too many sites and tons of people working for them.  Then they kept cutting people but not consolidating Patch areas to keep up with the layoffs.  First they were right there with your hyper-local news reporting on local issues from local meetings.  Then they were not covering the news but telling you  that you could blog on Patch “for free”.

The Patch sites around here operated under a mushy soft news umbrella after Tom Murray left  the Regional Editor spot for another job.

Sam Strike now former editor of Radnor Patch sent a note out to her e-mail list this afternoon:

Date: Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Subject: It’s been a pleasure

Hi all,

I wanted to let you know that it has been a pleasure working with you all over the years (some many, some few). Today Patch laid off the majority of its staff, myself included.

I’ve been doing local news in Radnor for a decade. And I’ve enjoyed it. But I think it’s time for a new challenge.

I have been and will continue to be pursuing work in the public relations/communications sector. I would appreciate any leads that you may encounter.

My Patch email will be shut down at 5 p.m. today

I was also in touch with Anthony Leone today.  He used to be a Patch editor I worked with at the Haverford-Havertown Patch. Anthony always had an uphill battle while at that Patch and so did every subsequent editor because it wasn’t just the Havertown/Haverford Township Patch. They also tossed in the town I used to live in when I lived in Lower Merion: Haverford.

Haverford, Lower Merion Township should have been attached to Bryn Mawr or Ardmore Patch but only the local editors ever got that.  Anyway, I asked Anthony what he thought and this is what he shared with me:

While it is a shame that this happened to so many of my former Patch colleagues, some of whom I have worked with personally, it is not a surprise. I do wish them the best of luck. One of the wonderful things that I have discovered since I left Patch in July 2012 is the fact that so many former Patchers are still in contact with one another and offer support.

Since I left Patch, I’ve written a lot about it on my blog What Burns My Bacon, but I thought in the beginning that they were filling a true community need, something that the readers really wanted. But over time decisions were made and it started to have a negative impact on Patch and its readers. I just hope someone can take the best parts of Patch, fix the things that were wrong with it and make something that will employ journalists and give readers what they truly desire: Original, local news.

So now what?  What is the future of journalism? Regionally and locally our newspapers have had to keep cutting back while beefing up on things like new technology and an online presence.

Years ago I had the good fortune to become aware of a blogger named Karl Martino who was one of the folks who thought up this amazing blog, a blog community really, called PhillyFuture.org which is now defunct.  One of his topics there was the future of journalism.  I wish I still had those posts he and others wrote. (he still blogs at paradox1x.)

Journalism was so different when many of us were little kids.  Real newspaper people and hard-core editors chasing the story.

Then came the failures.

I remember the first time The Philadelphia Bulletin closed. 1982.  Then the name was bought and it was resurrected for a second life. Then it died again in June 2009. It became deficit omne quod nasciture or everything that is born passes away.

Patch was launched in our area on or about September 10, 2010.  One of their editors wrote at the time:

“Want the facts without bias? A team of trained journalists covering every government meeting, every school board hearing and keeping the community abreast of local events? A brand new online newspaper launching Sept. 10, 2010 in Ardmore.  Patch.com is owned and funded by AOL, supports community journalism on a “hyperlocal” level.  Patch will cover all of the goings on in its three namesake communities, and will be updated multiple times every day with breaking news and information. “

The initial Patch sites in the greater Philadelphia area went “live” at 10:55 a.m. on September 10, 2010.   The Patch editors were ironically all fired by that time today.

Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote an interesting article about the future of journalism on Attytood this past October 16th.

He said in the article titled Like it or not, this is the future of American journalism  :

I think we’re seeing that since actual civic-minded good-for-you news and investigative reporting  — propped up for more than a century by department store ads, classifieds and crossword puzzles — has zero economic value in the digital free market, there’s only one thing that will keep it alive. And it’s not really what those hundreds of journalism reform articles I read over all those years were about — things like reader engagement and crowdsourcing and using social media (although those things matter).

It’s really just about very rich people.

And not just any very rich people, but very rich people with an agenda.

Given the state of politics and craziness that has defined the rise and fall and rise and fall and rise again of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News I am almost surprised he was able to articulate much of this particular piece.

But is he wrong? Sadly, I think not.

Who will be our voices in Chester County now?   We get some coverage on TV if too many people in Philadelphia aren’t being murdered or politicians aren’t causing scandal.  But as far as local news, we don’t have much coverage by the Philadelphia Inquirer (they jettisoned their Chester County bureau a few years ago), and the Daily Local and Main Line Media News are stretched thin.

Will we be our own voices? We have all but run out of our traditional real-time story tellers A/K/A reporters and editors.

Not surprisingly most major media outlets like the New York Times are now starting to report on the Patch editorial massacre today.  They all are saying that neither AOL Patch nor new owner Hale Global would comment on the layoffs.

Interestingly enough according to Fox News a Patch that survived with editor intact apparently is Greenwich Patch.  As in Greenwich, CT. Why? Because Tim Armstrong (AOL) lives there basically. Fox reports that AOL still owns 40% of Patch.

To now former Radnor Patch Editor Sam Strike and Tredyffrin-Easttown and lately Phoenixville Patch Editor Bob Byrne I wanted to say thank you. They were among the last editors standing until today that I really respected.  They are true journalists and are people of integrity.

My friend and former editor  (as well as Patch Regional Editor) Tom Murray said to me today “Very sad day when journalist and friends lose their jobs.”

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

What is the future of media? Journalism?

tragedy

long roadToday’s post is perhaps in part a rambling stream of consciousness.  Truthfully, I am not sure where this post will go as I start to write. This post began writing itself in my head a few hours ago.

A tragedy in Wayne has made me think of someone I had not thought of in a few years.

What tragedy am I speaking of? The man in Wayne who shot his wife on Sunday afternoon with one of their children in the house.  Then the man took his own life.

Coward.

Main Line Media News: Update: Husband, wife identified in Wayne murder-suicide

Published: Monday, January 13, 2014

By Pete Bannan,
Pbannan@Mainlinemedianews.com

Radnor police are working with family members to help care for the children after an apparent murder suicide that took place on 300 block of South Wayne Avenue in Radnor shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday.

Radnor police were called to the home for the report of shots fired. Two people, Tim Rooney, 49, and Linda Rooney, 48, were found dead from gunshot wounds in a pool house at the rear of the property, according to police.

“It appears to be a domestic situation,” said Radnor Police Supt. William Colarulo.

An 8-year-old was in the main house at the time of the shooting. The couple had two other children, a 15-year-old who is in a boarding school out of state and a 17-year-old daughter.

Their names were Tim and Linda Rooney.  I did not know them.  From what I am reading she was some kind of high level executive with a pharmaceutical company.  

Linda was also a mother of three children, two teenagers, and one child who is considerably younger.  Now these poor kids are orphans and tainted by a tragedy not of their making which is so unfair.

From what Radnor Patch was reporting, Linda Rooney may have not only feared her husband, but apparently the marriage may have been in trouble.

Wayne Murder Victim May Have Feared Husband, Police Say

Posted by   Sam Strike  (Editor) , January 13, 2014 at 06:51 PM

rooneyAs the Radnor Township community grapples with a shocking murder-suicide that took place in a Wayne home on Sunday, Radnor Patch has received comments ranging from concern for the victim’s children to the shock of knowing that a firearm was within blocks of their own children and many at Radnor Middle School.

While Radnor Police have not yet revealed a motive in the killing, they have said that they believe that Timothy Rooney, 49, shot to death his 48-year-old wife, Linda, in the pool house of their home and then shot himself….based on documents that police found it appears the marriage “was in trouble” and that Linda “may have been fearful” of her husband.

I noticed that some people were hard on Radnor Patch Editor Sam Strike for in essence, doing her job and reporting this.  This shows up in comments underneath the story when the news broke, but victims had not yet been identified. It is horrible news, but she did not sensationalize it. She stated what the Radnor Police had reported to the media in general. I know Sam, so this bothers me.  She is not deserving of being castigated for doing her job.  It was also all over the media like lightening.

Murder-Suicide in Pa. Suburbs

By  Wire Reports and  NBC10.com Staff                                  
|  Monday, Jan 13, 2014  |  Updated 3:42 PM EST

tragedyA man shot and killed his wife then shot himself Sunday afternoon, according to Radnor Police.

The incident happened in the guest house of a property at 319 S. Wayne Ave. in Wayne. The victims are identified as 49-year-old Timothy Rooney and his 48-year-old wife Linda Rooney. One of the couple’s three children, an 8-year-old boy, was in a bedroom of the main home.

Police say there were signs of struggle and that a note was left at the scene….The couple’s 17 year-old daughter came home to be with her younger brother. Another sibling is away at boarding school. Police are seeking to make contact with her.

The family, who is originally from Texas, moved to Radnor about a year ago, according to authorities.

This is all so senseless and tragic.  It will undoubtedly get weighed down by another debate on gun control.  I hope not.  It is a weighty issue, but three children just became orphans. And like many other weighty issues in this country it is polarized by politics back and forth on both sides of the issue.

What is rattling around in my brain is a similar crime the spring of 2000.  A woman I knew (and went to Shipley with) was shot by her ex-husband.  And then he turned the gun on himself.

His name was Mark Biddle.  Hers was Melinda Clothier Biddle.  She was a neighbor of mine.  I came home one day for lunch to find my neighborhood in lockdown, with police and media all over the place; helicopters swarming. The press had a field day because of the old Philadelphia names involved…likened it to High Society run amok.

A Violent End For Two With Notable Names Mark Hampton Biddle Fatally Shot His Ex-wife, Melinda Clothier Biddle, At Her Main Line Home. Then He Killed Himself.

By Patrick Kerkstra, Erin Carroll and Chani Katzen, INQUIRER SUBURBAN STAFF

Posted: June 01, 2000

A divorced couple from the Main Line, members of two of the most prominent families in Philadelphia’s long history, died yesterday in an apparent murder-suicide at the woman’s home in Haverford.

Mark Hampton Biddle, 49, a lawyer whose ancestors include leading financiers and statesmen from the time of the American Revolution, shot his ex-wife, Melinda Clothier Biddle, shortly after 10:30 a.m. at their former family home in the 400 block of West Montgomery Avenue, police said. He then shot himself in the head.

Melinda Biddle, 41, a therapist, was a great-great-granddaughter of Isaac Clothier, one of the founders of Strawbridge & Clothier. The couple had three children.

The pair finalized their divorce in February, according to court records. Mark Biddle recently remarried and moved to St. Davids after selling a large property on Lancaster Avenue where he had lived for about a year.

Mark Biddle was an angry man that Melinda finally divorced.  And it took a long time for her to get to her divorce.  It was very difficult for her to do this. But before she died, she was finally happy. She was blooming. She loved her children, her garden, a career, her friends and neighbors. I remembered seeing her out with some of her female friends from the neighborhood and elsewhere and I was so happy to see how she how happy she was and excited about life again.

A Murder-suicide Leaves Family And Police At A Loss. Questions Abound In Shootings  

By Ralph Vigoda and Patrick Kerkstra, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS

Posted: June 04, 2000

As he did many mornings, Mark Hampton Biddle started Wednesday with a prayer for his new wife, Veruschka, in the bedroom of their Chester County home. The couple, married 31/2 months, then prayed together – another morning ritual – before getting themselves and the children ready for the day…..What Mark Biddle did less than two hours later, police say, was confront his ex-wife, Melinda Clothier Biddle, in the back of the Haverford house they had once shared. He shot her twice, then – seconds later – shot himself in the head, his body crumpling in the driveway.

And then, one Wednesday morning, Mark Biddle parked his car literally across the street from my then driveway and accessed his ex-wife’s home via the R-5 Septa train tracks. He used the train tracks as a path.  He shot his former wife and then himself.  That darn car sat there for days.  I remember I finally called his old law practice and begged them to get someone, anyone to remove that car from our neighborhood.

What is wrong with this country?  Clearly, Mark Biddle was never someone who should have had access to guns anymore than this Tim Rooney. Yet he did.

My one comment on this debate which wages over guns in our country is why there has to be more control over exactly who is allowed to literally bear arms.  No one wants to interfere with an American’s inalienable rights, but part of this process should be a clean bill of mental health. And that should be something that should be periodically revisited as long as an individual owns guns. People kill.  Guns can’t just do it on their own as inanimate objects.

So as I first heard the news reports of this tragedy in Wayne, I was instantly transported back 14 years to the sounds of helicopters swarming like we were on the set of M.A.S.H or something.  I remember the chaos well because this is where I lived, and Melinda was my neighbor.  I have not thought of her in a few years.  Until this happened in Wayne.

I can only imagine how everyone in Wayne feels, and these were people that everyone was undoubtedly just getting to know because the family had only moved into the area within the past couple of years.

Human beings can be so cruel to each other and crimes like this will always be selfish in my mind on the part of the perpetrator.  Ok, so it is human to be ungodly upset but to take another life? And then your own so you don’t have to deal with the consequences of your actions? And to leave the children you brought into this world orphaned? It’s hateful, wrong, tragic, and selfish.

I often think about Melinda’s kids and wonder where their lives have led them.  I remember her son in particular as a little boy with reddish hair at the bus stop.  Melinda’s kids were lucky because her parents were able to step in and take care of her children.  And they are amazing and lovely people.

I guess life’s big lesson here is once again we are reminded of how life can change in a blink of an eye. I wish for a day when senseless violence like this ebbs away from our existences.

Appreciate those who love you and hold you dear.  I know I do.