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Morning Lookout: Hundreds march in honor of George Floyd, Watsonville approves rate hikes

Good Morning! It’s Wednesday, May 26 and it will be mostly sunny with a high of 72. In the wee hours of the morning, we were graced with a pretty rare sight: a lunar eclipse of a Super Flower Blood Moon. Unfortunately, I slept through this celestial event but a lot of people on the West Coast got up early to watch. If you’ve got pictures, send ‘em along!

Some early developing news from over the hill: Police in San Jose are currently responding to an active shooter scene near the area of Younger Avenue and San Pedro Street. If you’re headed that way for work this morning, you’re asked to avoid the area.

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd, the tragedy that galvanized millions in the country into action, speaking out against racism. Yesterday, to honor Floyd and continue to push for change, hundreds of Santa Cruzans marched to the courthouse. To keep the conversation going, I will be speaking with five community members tonight about racial discrimination, injustice and life as a minority in Santa Cruz. Join us for this free, virtual and important conversation tonight at 6 p.m.

And before we get to the headlines: This week, we at Lookout are celebrating and want to say thank you! It’s been six months since we launched our digital news venture — a whirlwind journey that began with getting the website up and running in the heat of the pandemic. Some of you may have seen a note talking about some of our early wins from our CEO Ken Doctor yesterday. If you missed it, you can read it here (it also includes a discount code for a Lookout membership).

With that, here’s your news:

PHOTOS: Hundreds take to Santa Cruz streets to honor George Floyd a year after his death

Hundreds marched in Santa Cruz Tuesday to honor Geoge Floyd on the first anniversary of his death on May 25, 2021.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Hundreds gathered on the steps of Santa Cruz County Superior Court last night as county residents marked one year since the murder of George Floyd. The Santa Cruz branch of the NAACP and the Santa Cruz Black Coalition for Justice & Racial Equity hosted the event, which local activist Joy Flynn described as “a community gathering and a vigil to mark the one-year anniversary of that public lynching.” Read more about the march and see photos here.

Hundreds marched in Santa Cruz Tuesday to honor Geoge Floyd on the first anniversary of his death on May 25, 2021.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

JOIN US TONIGHT: One year since the racial reckoning. Has anything really changed? It has been one year since the most recent racial reckoning in the U.S. following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But in the twelve months since, has anything REALLY changed? That’s the question I will pose to five community members tonight in an important discussion about racism in Santa Cruz County that you should not miss.

When: 6 p.m. tonight
Where: Zoom
Cost: FREE
To register for this event, click here.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
(Anne Wernikoff / CalMatters)

California’s new attorney general turns focus from fighting Trump to policing, racial justice: A month after taking over as California attorney general, Rob Bonta has put the Department of Justice on a hard pivot, launching a series of initiatives to refocus the agency on problems inside the state after it spent four years fighting the Trump administration in court on national issues. Read more from our partners at the LA Times here.

Hula’s Island Grill has been a fixture in the community since 2006, but when the pandemic hit, they experienced...

COVID 2021 Updates

A map from the California Department of Public Health showing counties by Blueprint for a Safer Economy tier designation.
(California Department of Public Health)

Santa Cruz County remains among state’s best in COVID-19 case numbers: With just 1.3 confirmed COVID cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of 0.5%, Santa Cruz County is among the top 10 counties in California in those metrics, according to data released yesterday. Vaccination numbers are also continuing to improve with 55% of eligible Santa Cruz County residents fully vaccinated. Read more data insights from our Mallory Pickett here.

In late January, thousands of vaccine appointments were cancelled at an OptumServe clinic in Sonoma County

Santa Cruz among dozen counties reporting problems with OptumServe vaccine clinics, documents show: California agreed to pay OptumServe up to $221 million to coordinate and operate dozens of vaccination sites. But the company has fallen far short of the up to 100,000 daily vaccine doses it told the state in its contracts that it could deliver. The company’s work in at least a dozen counties, including ours, has been plagued by miscommunication and staffing shortages. Read more from our partners at CalMatters here.

Brion Sprinsock has led food and architecture tours in downtown Santa Cruz and Capitola Village since 2011.
(Courtesy Brion Sprinsock)

‘A great time for people to take a risk’: Tour guide sees hope for Santa Cruz food scene kneecapped by COVID: The pandemic sank many of the restaurants on Brion Sprinsock’s local tours — the popular Santa Cruz & Capitola Food Tours that combines learning about local architecture and history while noshing on goodies from local eateries. While Sprinsock says he won’t be resuming his tours until 2022, like after the Great Recession, he sees opportunities for those willing and able to seize them. Read more from our Wallace Baine in this week’s Here & Now column here.

#BOLO: What Watsonville’s newly-approved water and sewer rate hikes mean for your wallet

File image of water flowing from a kitchen sink
(via Pixabay)

Watsonville residents who use city water and sewer services will receive higher utility bills this year after the city council gave final approval to a five-year rate hike in a 6-1 vote last night. Be On the Lookout on our website later today for a story by our Isabella Cueto explaining what this means for your pocketbook.

‘It looked like a bomb went off’: Felton Feed set to reopen after BMW crashes into storefront

Felton Feed & Pet Supply, an institution in the town’s Highway 9 business district, was on course to reopen Wednesday after suffering a direct hit — but no serious injuries — from a driver over the weekend. “When you have your own business, there’s no way you can prepare for everything,” one owner said. Read more from our Neil Strebig here.

Recall Newsom updates

Illustration by CalMatters

Total Recall: An illustrated guide to the Newsom recall: While the date of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recall election is yet to be determined, campaigning is in full swing. However, the process to recall a state governor is long and complex. Our partners at CalMatters created a very cool illustrated guide to the Newsom recall to help explain what’s happened so far and what’s next. Check it out here.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM looks over the fire devastation in Brentwood with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Mike Bonin

Another summer of California power outages poses threat to Newsom as he faces recall: Each time the power goes out, frustrated Californians look for someone to blame. The state’s three largest investor-owned utilities expect to again de-energize hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses this year to prevent power lines from sparking wildfires during high-risk weather conditions. That could spell trouble for Newsom, who will appear on a recall ballot during another hot and dry season. Read more from our partners at the LA Times here.

Around the county...

Distemper continues spread through Santa Cruz County, animal shelter suggests vaccine (Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Driver under the influence crashes into SCPD Patrol SUV in Santa Cruz (KSBW-TV)

Researchers use virtual reality to show dangers of rising sea levels (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