Axios Philadelphia

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Welcome to Tuesday, Philly!

  • Cloudy with a chance of showers today. Temps in the high 60s, per NWS.

Today's newsletter is 935 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Former Penn curator sues numerous news outlets

An aerial photo of the aftermath of the 1985 MOVE bombing in Philadelphia.
The 1985 MOVE bombing in West Philadelphia. Photo: Bettman/Getty Images

Former Penn Museum curator Janet Monge is suing the University of Pennsylvania and various media outlets over "false" and "defamatory" reports of her alleged mishandling of a 1985 MOVE bombing victim's remains.

Driving the news: Monge, an anthropologist, filed the lawsuit Friday against more than 30 defendants, including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Billy Penn, as well as the Association of Black Anthropologists and the Society of Black Archaeologists.

  • Monge says she suffered harm to her reputation and was demoted from her position after Billy Penn and other outlets published articles last year claiming that she and her colleague Alan Mann had kept the remains of a MOVE bombing victim and that she used them in an online course.

Catch up fast: The city of Philadelphia dropped a bomb on a West Philadelphia home on Osage Avenue, where members of a Black liberation group known as MOVE lived, in 1985. Six adults and five children were killed.

  • The city medical examiner gave Mann children's bones after the bombing to identify them. He wasn't able to, but the remains weren't returned to the city.

What she's saying: In the complaint, Monge alleges she spent 36 years trying to identify the bone fragments of the remains.

  • Monge alleges her former colleague, Penn doctoral candidate Paul Mitchell, falsified information to his "then-girlfriend" Maya Kassutto, who wrote one of the initial reports for Billy Penn before the story was picked up by multiple news outlets.

The response: Mitchell said in a statement to Axios that "claims, including those about me, which form the basis of Dr. Monge's complaint are substantially and demonstrably false."

  • Kassutto, the Philadelphia Inquirer, WHYY (the entity that owns Billy Penn) and Penn Museum declined to comment.

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2. A push to save our community gardens

Philadelphia CIty Councilmember Kendra Brooks
City Councilmember Kendra Brooks. Photo: Nigel Thomson/Getty Images

Community gardens across the city are at risk of going away.

Why it matters: These lots are primarily located in low-income, Black and Latino neighborhoods in North and West Philadelphia.

  • Community gardens can improve food access, beautify and revitalize public spaces and even decrease violence, per the CDC.

Catch up fast: In 1997, the city bundled together roughly 30,000 tax liens and sold them to U.S. Bank to raise money for school funding. But investors weren't able to collect on many of the liens, eventually leading to thousands of vacant and abandoned properties scattered across Philly.

  • In the years since, residents have maintained several properties and turned hundreds of areas into community gardens and green spaces.
  • U.S. Bank, meanwhile, has been sending the abandoned properties to sheriff's sales in an attempt to sell them all by October 2023.

State of play: City Councilmember Kendra Brooks is spearheading a campaign to keep roughly 500 sites her office identified as gardens, side yards or potential affordable housing locations that haven't been sold yet.

  • Brooks wants Philly to buy back the liens through a $10 million budget line item. The city can acquire the land and then prioritize selling to community groups.

Yes, but: There's not a clear path to make that a reality yet.

  • One of the options includes tapping the city's unused American Rescue Plan money.

What to watch: Council President Darrell Clarke said the proposal would be considered during the city's upcoming budget process.

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3. Philly awaits decision on World Cup bid

Illustration of a soccer ball on a soccer pitch with a dollar sign lines
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We'll soon know whether the World Cup is in Philly's near future.

Driving the news: FIFA recently announced plans to reveal the 2026 World Cup match sites that will stretch across U.S., Mexico and Canada, on June 16.

  • Philly is one of 22 cities across the three countries — 17 in the U.S. — vying to host matches for the 48-team tournament.

The big picture: 2026 will mark the first time the World Cup has three co-hosts and 80 matches, up from 64.

  • Of the matches, 60 will be played in the U.S., while Canada and Mexico will host 10 games each.
Data: ESPN; Map: Simran Parwani/Axios

Between the lines: FIFA is weighing several factors in the selection process, including the host cities' stadiums, sustainability, human rights and general infrastructure, according to the organization.

What they're saying: "Should Philadelphia be selected, we will be ready to celebrate," Meg Kane, bid coordinator for Philadelphia Soccer 2026, told Axios.

Looking for more sports coverage? Sign up for Axios Sports.

4. News Market: mini-golf in the mall

Illustration of a neon sign that reads News Market.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

⚖️ A Montgomery County court judge ordered former state Attorney General Kathleen Kane to enroll in an inpatient alcohol treatment facility following her drunk driving arrest in March. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

🏈 Eagles Super Bowl hero Nick Foles signed a two-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts. The Eagles were reportedly involved in talks to bring Foles back to Philly. (ESPN's Jeremy Fowler)

⛳ Puttshack will open a 26,000-square-foot mini-golf venue inside the Shops at Liberty Place in Center City in the summer of 2023. (Philly Voice)

5. Time's 100 sparks Philly pride

Quinta Brunson and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson
Quinta Brunson and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson. Photos by: Arturo Holmes/Getty; Christopher Willard/Getty

Philly's own Quinta Brunson and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson were named among Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2022.

Driving the news: The annual Time 100 list, released on Monday, spotlights top leaders, artists, innovators, pioneers, titans of industry and icons of the year.

Zoom in: Brunson is the creator and star of ABC's breakout show "Abbott Elementary," a comedy about teachers in a Philly public school.

  • She "uses comedy to shine a light on big issues in public education in a very real, relatable way — not to put down but to give hope that we can do better," NBA star LeBron James wrote of Brunson.

Questlove is the drummer of The Roots, bandleader for "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," an author and a recent Oscar winner.

  • "Not only is he a musical encyclopedia but also a comedy nerd and one of the most creative people I've ever met," Fallon wrote of Questlove.

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