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Morning Lookout: Honoring George Floyd a year after his death, fresh salmon galore

Good Morning! It’s Tuesday, May 25 and it’ll be mostly cloudy with a high of 72.

We’re waking up to some breaking national news: CNN reports that Moderna announced that after Phase 2/3 of vaccine trials, the company concludes the shot is safe and effective to use on children as young as 12 and they will seek FDA approval to begin rollout to teens.

Today marks a somber anniversary: one year since George Floyd was murdered. Local organizers have a host of events today and tomorrow seeking to honor Floyd and reflect on the divisions that are yet to be healed. Tomorrow night, I will be sitting down with community members to talk about a key question: Has anything changed in the past year and how do we address the problem of racism in our community. Sign up to join us for this free event here.

Here’s a look at the news of the day:

Reflecting after tragedy: Memorial events around Santa Cruz County seek to honor and remember George Floyd

Last year, George Floyd was killed at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. His brutal death caused an eruption of protests across the country and locally. To honor and remember Floyd one year later, local organizers are hosting several events around Santa Cruz County to give people a chance to reflect and remember and come together. Our Cypress Hansen put together a roundup of events happening around town today and tomorrow that you can attend.

JOIN US TOMORROW NIGHT: A year later, has anything really changed? That is the question I will pose to our panelists tomorrow night as we discuss the important question of moving beyond and healing the deep divisions created by racism in this country. Read about our panelists here and sign up to join us at 6 p.m. tomorrow for our free virtual event here.

On anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, Biden struggles to make progress on racial issues: Soon after the police officer who killed Floyd was convicted of murder, President Joe Biden called his relatives with a promise: Once he could sign legislation named for Floyd to change policing nationwide, he would fly them to Washington for the occasion. Floyd’s family arrives at the White House today but there will be no bill-signing ceremony. Read more from the LA Times here.

ANOTHER READ: The Supreme Court created qualified immunity. Why is it so tough for Congress to get rid of it? (LA Times)

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‘We’re 60 years behind the curve’: Pajaro River levee project on its way to righting environmental ‘injustice’

A photo from an Army Corps report shows flooding caused by a 1995 breach of the Pajaro River.
A photo from an Army Corps report shows flooding caused by a 1995 breach of the Pajaro River. The orange circle encompasses the town of Pajaro. The mouth of the Pajaro River is in the foreground.
(Via U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

For decades, the fear of the next big flood has haunted the mostly low-income communities of Watsonville and Pajaro, their neighborhoods at the mercy of a federal levee system that numerous times has failed to protect them from devastating torrents. But with the stroke of a pen yesterday, federal, state and local officials ensured that engineers can start designing long-needed improvements to the deficient levees along the Pajaro River and Salsipuedes Creek. Read more from our Patrick Riley here.

EXPLAINER: Why the county is looking to ride low interest rates to big savings on refinancing pension debt

Stacks of money
(via Pixabay)

Faced with a mountain of debt totaling nearly $700 million owed to California’s underfunded pension system for public employees, Santa Cruz County is considering an option similar to refinancing a mortgage — taking out tens of millions in low-interest loans officials say could help save close to $70 million in the long run. Our Patrick Riley has more here.

PHOTOS: Important shovels in the ground: Sights of groundbreaking at Live Oak health care, affordable housing campus (Lookout Santa Cruz)

Coast life

Workers unload fresh salmon at the Santa Cruz Harbor.
Hans Haveman of H&H Fresh Fish helps unload salmon with H&H employees Logan Mankins and Vince Golder at the Santa Cruz Harbor in April 2022.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Craving fresh salmon? They’re coming in by the boatload at Santa Cruz harbor: Cargos are coming in by the boatload in Santa Cruz harbor laden with a precious and fleeting catch: wild-caught, chinook (King) salmon, only available in the Monterey Bay for a brief period of time in the summer. The salmon fishery is very carefully managed and is only open in certain areas for certain weeks. Read more from our Mallory Pickett here.

Three gray whales have washed ashore in the San Francisco Bay Area, adding to the four that washed up in April of this year.

A dozen dead whales have washed ashore in the Bay Area signaling another grim year: The number of dead whales washing ashore in the Bay Area this spring continues to climb, with another massive gray whale seen rolling in the surf at Pacifica State Beach on Friday afternoon. Although the number of grays to die this year has been high, experts say that the last few years have also been unusual. Read more from the LA Times here.

Back comes the California Honky Tonk: Hank & Ella with the Fine Country Band return from pandemic break

Hank & Ella with The Fine Country Band, from right: Hank Warde, Ella Warde, Meghan Leslie and Poncho Lefty.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The pandemic took Hank & Ella with the Fine Country Band off the road and gave the group time to make a new album. Now they’re ready to reengage audiences with their brand of “California Honky Tonk,” starting Saturday with a headlining show at Michael’s on Main in Soquel to celebrate the release of their new album, “Good at Being Lonely.” Read more from our Wallace Baine here.

Around the county...

Aptos woman convicted in husband’s 2019 slaying (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Handful of anti-vaccine protesters crash Watsonville school clinic (The Pajaronian)

300 people in Santa Cruz Mountains face internet shutoff (Good Times)

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