The Santa Cruz High School marching band in 2019.
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Morning Lookout: Tech layoff worries, Santa Cruz High band’s big trip and UCSC afoul of First Amendment?

Hello again, Lookout friends. It’s Thursday, Feb. 16, and we’re looking at mostly cloudy conditions around Santa Cruz County, with the mid-50s about as warm as it’s going to get.

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Tech layoffs have been rippling through the San Francisco Bay Area, fueling worries that they could hit on this side of the hill. That was the focus Wednesday of an economic forum, where Christopher Neely heard from experts on what might be ahead on the local front.

In the wake of Lookout’s efforts to report on layoffs at UC Santa Cruz’s Center for Agroecology and last year’s academic workers strike, among other stories, one legal expert says how the university deals with media inquiries raises “a very significant First Amendment problem.” A UCSC spokesman, meanwhile, tells Hillary Ojeda that directing journalists’ questions to a media relations department is “common practice.”

At Santa Cruz High School, band members are preparing for a trip to New York, where they’ll play next month at Carnegie Hall. It’s quite an honor, Isabel Swafford reports.

The Thursday headlines also include the latest from Lookout columnist Claudia Sternbach, who laments that we dedicate only one month to Black history and has some stern words for a pair of governors who want to control how history is taught — so onward.

Will tech layoffs rear their head in Santa Cruz?

Downtown Santa Cruz
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Layoffs in the tech industry have dominated headlines out of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. With Santa Cruz just over the hill, experts are eyeing whether the county will feel the ripple effects. Christopher Neely has details.

MORE: In the wake of massive layoffs, tech workers reconsider their future

Lawyer says UCSC media relations practices ‘raise very significant First Amendment problems’

READ THE STORY: Housing at the forefront: UC regents to consider plan for a 44% increase in UCSC enrollment by 2040
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

UC Santa Cruz telling employees that journalists’ inquiries — including recently about layoffs at the school’s agroecology center and about last year’s academic workers strike — should go through the university’s media relations office could be seen as “inherently coercive” and restricting employees’ free speech, the legal director of the First Amendment Coalition told Lookout. More from Hillary Ojeda.

PREVIOUSLY: More than 280 faculty, students, alumni denounce layoffs at UCSC’s agroecology center

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And with that, Thursday is off and running. There’s more coming from Lookout, to be sure, and a great way to keep tabs on everything going on around Santa Cruz County is to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Also great at keeping tabs on everything going on is Wallace Baine, whose recommendation-packed Weekender newsletter looking at our local arts and entertainment scene is headed for inboxes in just hours. Sign up right here for that and all of our other newsletters, not to mention breaking news alerts.

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Be safe out there, and have an excellent Thursday.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz