Axios Atlanta

Picture of the Atlanta skyline.

Hey, Wednesday. We're ready for you!

🧥 Today's weather: Sunny with a need for layers. Temperatures ranging from 51 to 32.

😤 Situational awareness: Have you ever picked up $915 worth of pennies from your driveway?

  • Congrats to Carrie B., who won the random drawing for their choice of Axios swag!

Today's newsletter is 897 words — a 3.5-minute read

1 big thing: Biden's full-court press

Biden speaking at a podium
Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images

Another day, another political spotlight on Georgia.

Driving the news: President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris chose Atlanta as the backdrop for their full-court press on the U.S. Senate to pass Democratic voting bills, even if it means changing the chamber’s rules to do it.

The big picture: As expected, it is federal voting legislation that has forced the question of whether to find a way around the Senate’s filibuster rule, which has been used by Republicans to stall the voting bills.

Why Georgia: Biden and Harris cited the state’s storied civil rights icons in their speeches and laid a wreath at the tombs of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King earlier in the afternoon.

  • But more recently it’s Georgia’s Republican-led election law that Biden called an example of “the undemocratic way” he hopes to supersede with federal action.

What he said: “I believe the threat to our democracy is so grave that we must find a way to pass these bills,” Biden said. “We have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this.”

Reality check: Democrats don't appear to have the votes for any kind of change to the rule. In a 50/50 Senate, every vote matters.

  • Several Georgia activists boycotted Biden’s visit, to protest “another speech” instead demanding actual legislative progress, as Axios’ Alexi McCammond reported.

Meanwhile: Republicans held their own counter-programming yesterday. Gov. Brian Kemp vowed to continue defending the state’s new voting law in court. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger proposed his own federal voting changes, including national voter ID laws.

Read the full story.

2. Demolition delayed

The historic Lakewood Heights School in Atlanta.
Atlanta Public Schools has delayed plans to demolish the historic Lakewood Heights School. Photo courtesy of Atlanta Preservation Cemter

Atlanta Public Schools will hold off on a plan to demolish a historic school in the Lakewood Heights neighborhood.

Why it matters: A proposal to tear down the old Lakewood Elementary School would remove a structure with a more than 100-year history in a district recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.

What they’re saying: Atlanta Board of Education Chair Eshe Collins told Axios that the district will hold a facilities master plan retreat on Jan. 20 to get a better idea of its student enrollment projections and growth in Atlanta to determine which properties it will need for the future.

  • Catch up quick: The original building opened in 1915 as Lakewood Heights School and was renovated in 1932. The renamed Lakewood Elementary School closed in 2004, and since it “became a blighted site due the area’s decline, the school has become unsafe,” a Department of City Planning report states.
  • David Mitchell, executive director of the Atlanta Preservation Center, told Axios that it was troubling to see APS consider demolishing the school and that the organization wants to see alternative options explored.

Read the full story.

3. 🥛 Come get your Georgia-grown nut milk

Jar of pecan milk
The instructions on the back: "Shake It like A Polaroid Picture." Photo: Emma Hurt/Axios

👋🏻 Hi there, Emma here!

When I saw bottles from Pecan Milk Co-op in the fridge at the Candler Park Market, I didn’t think twice about snagging one.

What’s the deal: Founded in 2014 by Nijil Jones, the co-op makes pecan and oat milks, all right in Decatur.

  • After a pandemic hiatus the pecan and oat milks just hit Candler Park Market shelves this week. They're also selling online and via Fresh Harvest with plans to grow to other in-person locations this year.

The big picture: Georgia is the country’s largest pecan producer, and homegrown companies like Pecan Milk Co-op and Treehouse Milk have been making use of them in drinkable ways for years.

Jones’ vision has been about more than just nut milk. It’s also been about building a Black and trans-owned model for a democratic workplace: a worker-owned cooperative that’s also a safe space for marginalized communities.

Emma’s thought bubble: This milk is velvety and has a wonderful flavor. Loved it with cereal and in a smoothie. It did separate a bit in my coffee, but Jones tells me that’s because it doesn’t include any emulsifying additives … which sounds like it’s better for me.

Read the full story.

4. 🤔 To rent or to buy? That is the question.

Data: ATTOM; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

Owning a median-priced home is more affordable than the average rent on a three-bedroom property in 58% of the U.S., a new report says.

Why it matters: Even with home prices continuing to climb, the affordability gap is narrowing, which may signal the imminent end to what's been a steady run-up in home prices.

  • In nearly 90% of the nation, home prices are rising faster than wages.

Zoom in: Among metro Atlanta counties, it's cheaper to rent in Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Forsyth, Cherokee and Fayette.

The big picture: Nationally, the report shows it’s cheaper to buy in rural areas and rent in cities and suburbs.

Yes, but: Exceptions in Georgia include some parts of Northeast Georgia, like Fannin and Rabun counties, popular sites for retirees and mountain homes.

A local POV: Atlanta real estate broker Jon Effron tells Axios the market remains “crazy” across the region as inventory lags behind demand, and more people working from home seek out larger spaces.

Go deeper: The national version.

Five-ish Points: 🏆 The championship edition

Illustration of hand holding up football
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

🎉 This is the only round-up you need from the Bulldog’s national championship win. (Axios Sports)

🧢 Georgia players wearing the wrong victory hats, UGA coaches going wild, Vince and Kirby and more viral moments. (Dawg Nation)

🏈 Quarterback Stetson Bennett has plenty of options after helping bring home Georgia’s first championship in 41 years. (SI, AJC)

🔔 What’s the story behind people ringing that bell on UGA’s North Campus? (Red & Black)

🎫 Students and season-ticket holders can register for complimentary tickets to UGA’s formal celebration program. (AJC)

🤔 Is it too early to start talking about 2022 college football? (ESPN)

📘 Kristal is looking forward to reading this book.

😬 Thomas is wondering what happens when you combine snow, a supply chain crisis and metro Atlantans who panic buy eggs and milk.

🎂 Emma wishes her husband a very happy COVID-quarantine birthday from the other side of the wall. This means fewer people to share your cake with!

Our editor Kayla is butting in to say that Disney's "Encanto" is a wonderful movie and that you all should watch it.