Axios Philadelphia

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🐪 Hi, Wednesday!

  • Mostly cloudy then sunny with high temp around 79.

🏀 Situational awareness: The Sixers overcame the New York Knicks in overtime 112-106 yesterday. Game 6 in the playoff series is tomorrow.

Today's newsletter is 974 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: New school board takes office amid controversy

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: BasSlabbers/Getty Images

Philadelphia's new Board of Education takes over today amid a power struggle between Mayor Cherelle Parker and City Council over one of her appointments.

Why it matters: The conflict raises questions about how well legislators will work with the new school board and mayor.

State of play: Joyce Wilkerson is expected to be sworn in along with the eight other board members at 10am at City Hall despite failing to receive approval for her nomination from the council.

Between the lines: School board members are appointed by the mayor but must receive a vote of consent from city legislators before their terms begin.

Catch up quick: City Council approved Parker's school board nominees last week, except for Wilkerson, the longest-serving board member.

But Parker appointed Wilkerson anyway, saying in a released statement that she asked Wilkerson to remain on the board "until such time when I appoint a new member" because no one had been confirmed to replace her.

  • Parker spokesperson Joe Grace maintained Wilkerson's appointment wasn't new because she was a member of the outgoing board.

Behind the scenes: A campaign against Wilkerson's nomination was mostly led by charter school supporters, per the Inquirer.

  • Dawn Chavous, a spokesperson for a charter school coalition and the wife of Council President Kenyatta Johnson, was reportedly involved in the effort to derail Wilkerson's nomination, which Chavous has denied, per the Inquirer.

The intrigue: It remains to be seen whether Wilkerson can stay on the board indefinitely without legislators' approval.

  • Grace declined to say when the mayor would make a new board appointment.

Details: The other school board members are Reginald Streater, ChauWing Lam, Sarah-Ashley Andrews, Crystal Cubbage, Cheryl Harper, Whitney Jones, Joan Stern and Wanda Novales.

What they're saying: Johnson would not say whether legislators will take additional action over Wilkerson's appointment.

Councilmember Isaiah Thomas released a statement, saying Philly schools have been "inadequate under [Wilkerson's] leadership."

  • "I am ready to work with the 8 nominees who City Council confirmed to serve Philadelphians in a transparent and accessible manner."

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2. Jim’s Steaks reopens on South Street

South Street hasn't been the same without you, Jim's. Photo: Mike D'Onofrio/Axios

Jim's Steaks reopens at 4pm today in South Philly after a devastating fire nearly two years ago.

Why it matters: The cheesesteak mecca had attracted about a million visitors annually and fueled economic activity on South Street before it was forced to close for repairs.

Driving the news: Jim's has expanded, adding more seating and featuring several large mosaics from local famed folk artist Isaiah Zagar, creator of Philadelphia's Magic Gardens.

  • Yes, but: Much is the same, including the cash-only menu and no fried food.
  • A plain steak sandwich will cost you $11.99 and a cheesesteak $13.49.

Between the lines: The cheesesteak spot now stretches into its adjoining building partly adorned with a Zagar mosaic, which previously housed Eyes Gallery and also suffered damage in the 2022 electrical fire.

Details: The new Jim's, officially known as Jim's South St., includes first- and second-floor dining areas, and also outdoor tables.

  • The open kitchen features a custom-made 12-foot griddle.
  • A new retail counter sells merch.

1 cool thing: You can chow down on a cheesesteak while surrounded by Zagar's tile-and-glass mosaics, which adorn every inch of a new room at Jim's.

  • Some of the mosaics, among Zagar's earliest creations, were discovered during construction and restored.
A new room in Jim's Steaks is completely covered with tile-and-glass mosaics from folk-artist Isaiah Zagar.
A new room in Jim's Steaks is covered with tile-and-glass mosaics from folk artist Isaiah Zagar. Photo: Mike D'Onofrio/Axios

What they're saying: Ken Silver, president of Jim's Steaks, tells Axios it was important to preserve the original essence of the business and not make major changes.

  • "People know us for a few things: Best cheesesteaks in Philly — or at least we think so — excellent hoagies, and drinks," he said.

Plus: Eleanor Ingersoll, executive director of the South Street Headhouse District, tells Axios that Jim's is a legacy anchor for the area and she expects the reopening to be a "shot of adrenaline for the business district."

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3. News Market: A.J. Brown's blessing

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🏠 Mayor Cherelle Parker has softened a campaign pledge to build more than 30,000 new units of affordable housing in the city. She shifted her goal to repairing 30,000 homes of any kind.

  • The administration will count every newly built or repaired home toward that benchmark. (Inquirer 🔒)

🚨 Police are searching for someone seen on camera assaulting a man with autism on SEPTA's Broad Street line last month. (NBC10)

🗣️ Quote du jour:

"When I hang my cleats up it's going to be in that uniform right here, man. I'm so blessed and I'm so thankful. I'm ready for the upcoming season. Go birds."
— Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown on his commitment to Philly after rumors swirled that he wanted to be traded.

4. Rocky statue gets polished

Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images via Getty

As if Rocky Balboa wasn't stout enough, he's getting a buff.

Why it matters: The Rocky statue must look its best for the millions of pilgrims who visit the sculpture every year at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Driving the news: Art conservators from the Conservation Center will clean the iconic bronze statue May 7-8 as part of routine maintenance, per a city news release.

  • The city will put up temporary barriers and signs directing foot traffic while the statue is polished daily from 8am-4 pm.
  • The barriers will be removed both days to allow people to continue paying homage to the Rocky statue, which is so popular with tourists that it helped inspire a forthcoming "Rocky-con" festival and a book by Michael Vitez, a former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter.

How it got here: Sculptor A. Thomas Schomberg created the statue in 1980, and Sylvester Stallone gifted it to the city. It is one of more than 1,800 pieces in the city's permanent art collection.

What they're saying: Marguerite Anglin, the city's public art director, says the maintenance helps protect the statue from weather damage and will "preserve it for generations to come."

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👋 Have a good day!

Today's newsletter was edited by Delano Massey and copy edited by Steven Patrick.