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Morning Lookout: 6-figure flaw costs taxpayers, anti-mask update and more

Good Morning! It’s Monday, March 1, the first day of meteorological Spring, which the National Weather Service explains here. The weather today will be sunny with a high of 65. However, dry conditions over the weekend and winds may have helped cause a small fire in Felton that CalFire officials said was contained in about an hour.

It’s also the first day of Women’s History Month, and the Library of Congress shared a cool online portal that commemorates the role of women in American history.

In local news, Santa Cruz Police Chief Andy Mills had warned city council members that anti-mask activists might be descending on the city over the weekend. We’ve got more on what ended up transpiring below.

We’re also taking deep dives this morning into water issues facing residents countywide, a big mistake that’s forcing the city of Capitola to write a big check and the latest on whether the local movie industry will ever return to normal in the wake of the closing of downtown Santa Cruz’s biggest movie house.

Statewide, Blue Shield is set to take the reins of the vaccine rollout in California today but the University of California Health System sounded the alarm on what could have been a breach of patient privacy after the company asked for expansive patient data. Meanwhile, as the “Recall Newsom” efforts ramp up, the governor is focusing on getting students back in schools at the same time that SNL is having some fun with him.

Let’s start the headlines with a story that we can all relate to:

Learning to breathe again: New book looks back at a painful year in Santa Cruz County

The "2020 Hindsight" book cover.
(Provided)

THE HERE & NOW: As we finally catch our breath after a traumatic year, photos by news photographers Shmuel Thaler of the Santa Cruz Sentinel and Lookout’s Kevin Painchaud are the main attractions of “2020 Hindsight,” which attempts to give some perspective to the terrible year through the lens of the people of Santa Cruz County. Our Wallace Baine also played a role in the book, writing the foreword and helping collect the essays contained in it. Read more from Wallace about the book, its mission and how to get a copy here.

Presented by Santa Cruz County Bank

The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County re-envisioned its programs and initiatives to meet the needs and challenges of...

Six-figure mistake: Flaw in Capitola Library plans sparked delays, cost taxpayers at least $580,000

The still-under-construction Capitola Library
The still-under-construction Capitola Library. Electrical wiring that ran along the library site had to be restructured so the facility wouldn’t enter “no-build buffers” set by regulators.
(Mark Conley / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The new Capitola Library, which should have been finished in February 2020, is now expected to open by the summer. And — despite the project appearing on track to come in slightly under budget — a crucial design flaw that led to the bulk of construction delays will cost taxpayers, Capitola leaders learned last week, with the City Council agreeing to pay $582,402 related to the fix. Read more from our Isabella Cueto here, including whether more bills might be on the way.

Water 101: With big changes afoot, everything you need to know about what’s coming out of your tap

As a warming climate sparks changes in rainfall patterns, local water supplies are under more stressors than ever. Anticipating this future, and dealing with expensive, aging and sometimes fire-damaged infrastructure, many local government water districts are making or planning big changes. Our Mallory Pickett explains how water is managed in the area, whether shortages may become prevalent, how much everyone is paying for the resource and more. Read her story here.

The long intermission: Film industry ponders how to get people back to the movies here, elsewhere, soon

The neighborhood movie theater has faced many challenges over the years, but as the movie industry digs out from a lost 2020, theaters and filmgoers alike are wondering what comes next. The Regal-owned Cinema 9 in Downtown told staff last month that it would not be reopening after the pandemic shuttered the theater in October. With the fate of the rest of the local movie theaters in the balance, our Wallace Baine sought answers. Read his story here.

Vaccine Watch

Covid 19 vaccine vocab_LA_thmb
A vial of COVID-19 vaccine. (File photo)

Doses administered to Santa Cruz County residents: 80,954

California’s new COVID-19 vaccine system, operated by Blue Shield, to start today: Blue Shield is taking over distribution of vaccines in the state, putting all the counties on a more level playing field during the frustrating and confusing vaccine rollout. All 58 counties are expected to transition by the end of March and Santa Cruz County will be part of the third wave. Read more from our partners at CalMatters here.

UC says Blue Shield sought ‘expansive’ patient data prompting alarm from patient privacy advocates: Blue Shield of California initially sought an “expansive” amount of medical data from the University of California Health system in exchange for vaccine doses under the state’s revamped allocation plan that awards extensive powers to the insurance giant, a move that has prompted objections from UC and alarm from patient privacy advocates. Read more from our content partners at the LA Times here.

Under the theme “Stories Matter,” the 9th annual Watsonville Film Festival will spotlight 20 award-winning indie and...

‘Recall Newsom’ roundup

Gov. Gavin Newsom

As recall threat grows, Newsom pushes reopenings: Gov. Gavin Newsom has often talked about his desire to reopen schools, but it wasn’t until the final days of 2020 that he introduced a plan to speed up a return to the classroom. Facing the possibility of a recall election in the fall, stemming growing frustration among parents has emerged as a top priority for Newsom. He flatly rejects the suggestion that politics have played a role in his pandemic decisions and has not publicly acknowledged the recall effort even as he shifts to campaign-style events in major media markets. But his aides are acknowledging the obvious. Read more from our partners at the LA Times here.

WATCH: SNL rips Newsom as national criticism mounts: Newsom, played by Alex Moffatt, was skewered in this weekend’s SNL cold open over the French Laundry dining incident and for the state’s chaotic vaccine rollout — adding to swelling national criticism amid his potential recall. Watch the sketch and read more from our partners at the LA Times here.

Around the county . . .

No arrests after anti-maskers take to downtown Santa Cruz: A group of about 20 anti-mask protesters took to the streets of Downtown Santa Cruz yesterday after they started off near Lighthouse Point, offering ‘free hugs.’ Santa Cruz Police Chief Andy Mills, who told Santa Cruz City Council last week that he was staffing up for potential anti-mask activity on Sunday, told Lookout there were no issues with the protesters near West Cliff. They then proceeded to the Trader Joe’s in Downtown — a place they infamously had frequented beforeexchanged words with employees but didn’t make it inside. Mills said his officers watched the protesters until they dispersed. No arrests were made.

Field of dreams realized: Pajaro Valley High athletic facility unveiled after years of student advocacy (Lookout Santa Cruz)

Shots fired in Watsonville injures one (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Bay Area author Tommy Orange on the mythmaking of history (Good Times)

Within broadcast range: KBCZ Boulder Creek community radio increases coverage (SLV Post)

That’s it for today. If you’re enjoying our coverage, please tell your family and friends about our Lookout Newsletter & Text Center, where they can sign up for all the newsletters and alerts we offer. You can also keep tabs on everything we’re publishing through the day by bookmarking our website and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Have a great day!

Tulsi Kamath
Managing Editor

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