It’s summer! After our disastrous, watery January and the chill that seemed to hang on forever, we see that we’ve made it. Santa Cruz County, at least weather-wise, seems back to normal. We’ve been preparing you for sunnier days with a series of guides. Find them all here, and especially browse the recently published ones, like Ashley Spencer’s A Day Away in Pescadero and A Day Away in Monterey and Laura Sutherland’s West Cliff Food and Drinkand Corralitos Wine Trail. Both writers have become great contributors to Lookout this year, as we’ve expanded our food and drink coverage. And now, with the big news around our office – Lily’s back! – that coverage will take another upturn.
We all welcome Lily Belli back Monday from parental leave. I’ll let her tell you about her growing family, but let me tell you that she’s got an overflowing picnic basket of stories that she is now itching to write. And we’ve reframed what Lily will offer each week. In addition to her timely stories, she’ll now send out to you two weekly newsletters. The Tuesday newsletter Lily Belli on Food is the must-read for all the movings and shakings in the wide and widening local food scene. Lily resumes writing the newsletter the week of July 4, taking over from Jessica M. Pasko. Now, on Fridays (starting June 30), Lily will also send out Eaters Digest, a newsletter that highlights both a single food experience she wants us to share – and a highly useful gathering of weekend food events. If you’re not signed up for Lily Belli on Food, do it here. If you’d like to be in even more direct touch with Lily through text alerts she sends to her readers, sign up here.
And look out, or as we like to say around here Be On the Lookout (for BOLO, our always-on entertainment calendar), for more announcements about even more food and drink coverage.
Santa Cruz County and Big Pharma
As correspondent Christopher Neely recently captured in his newsletter, In The Public Interest, Big Pharma is in the midst of redeeming itself from its opioid sins and Santa Cruz County is on the receiving end of that redemption.
As he put it, “In 2016, at the height of the prescription opioid epidemic, Santa Cruz County tallied 35 opioid overdose deaths and 188,000 prescriptions, which, according to the county, was ‘enough to medicate every man, woman and child for six weeks continuously.’”
Those are numbers that are almost impossible to get our heads around. As Chris reported, key talks are now under way about how to use the $26 million that the county expects to receive from the pharmaceutical companies over the next 18 years.
There are big decisions ahead for our community on that money, and much else around the gnarly issues of addiction, stigma, treatment and public awareness. Ahead of her retirement Friday, Santa Cruz County Health Officer Gail Newel told our correspondent Max Chun that opioids (along with the housing crisis) are the two major issue we face. Max also recently brought us into the real-life issues of overdose meds, as the county faces its highest rate of overdose in more than a year.
We’ve stayed on top of the local opioid crisis for a couple of years now, and you can find all of our coverage of it (22 stories so far) here.
Save the local press!
That’s a cry that’s making itself heard, again, in both Congress and the California Legislature. Two bills - both backed by media industry lobby groups - would essentially compel social media giants Google and Facebook to pay news publishers for the use of their content. As Facebook itself has gone from being characterized as a wunderkind to a noxious influence on America’s psyche and as Google’s sheer size and revenue has grown its detractors, it’s not hard to see how taxing those two for the benefit of society is an idea that is winning that oh-so-rare thing: bipartisan, yes Democrat and Republican, support.
Both bills claim to help out us and you – local news publishers and local news readers. And their titles are triumphant: the federal Journalism Competition and Preservation Act and the state California Journalism Preservation Act. Unfortunately, they are also triumphantly misleading. Along with other smaller publishers in California and nationally, Lookout opposes both pieces of legislation.
Why? In short, national news lobby groups – now controlled by the hedge fund and private equity owners of the ever-cutting newspaper chains and broadcast chain owners – have written this legislation to disproportionately benefit themselves. While all local news publishers, especially smaller independent ones like Lookout, Berkeleyside, The Oaklandside, the Long Beach Post and CalMatters would like to get a new revenue stream to grow what we can do for you, it’s unclear how much this legislation would do that. What is clear is that the big financial players (like Alden Global Capital, owner of both the Santa Cruz Sentinel and the Monterey Herald and many other financially eviscerated titles throughout the state and country, and Gannett, the largest newspaper chain whose epic cutting has recently made headlines) would take in millions. And given how weak the legislation is in mandating that any money earned be used to pay local journalists to report local news, much of the money would only further their (still very profitable) bottom lines.
I won’t go into a lot of detail here for Lookout readers – who we know care about local news – but have a couple of things for you to read if you consider yourself a news nerd, or, even a democracy nerd; here’s my letter to California legislators on CJPA and a national letter signed on to by more than two dozen publishers and organizations opposing JCPA.
Membership has privileges
A group of Lookout members and friends enjoyed our most recent member event, the Terrarium Workshop with Little Shop of Horticulture last week.
We all can probably name someone in town who took their passion and turned it into a small business. Little Shop of Horticulture founder Kristin Michal took her love of plants and turned it into team-building workshops for Silicon Valley tech teams, wedding floral design and a hands-on crafting event studio. As always, we like to celebrate the entrepreneurial nature of Santa Cruz County and invited a limited number of our members to join us for a behind-the-scenes tour and hands-on workshop with the Little Shop of Horticulture. Members crafted a custom terrarium using colorful sands, rocks and air plants.
Stay tuned for more “Inside Santa Cruz” member events, which work to bring people together to explore the unique, noteworthy, or under-the-radar happenings and offerings of Santa Cruz. All members are invited; if you want to become a member, here’s a handy way (below) to get signed up.
And what is summer without Wallace’s Trivia?
Summer Trivia with Wallace is back
June 27 from 6:30 p.m.- 8 p.m.
Searching for summer fun? Come to Abbott Square in downtown Santa Cruz on the last Tuesday of each month this summer for Lookout Santa Cruz’s Trivia Nights, hosted by Wallace Baine. This is not your average trivia night! Come solo or bring a team. This event is free and open to the public, but seats will be reserved for those who register. This event will continue on the fourth Tuesday of each month June - September. Register here!
We said goodbye to our spring interns. Business interns, Gabe Castilla, Dylan Reisig and Ameen Taheri came to us through UC Santa Cruz’s Economics Field Study program. They graduated this month and are setting out into the world after completing a variety of data analytics, marketing, and student outreach projects with our Community & Commerce team. Newsroom intern Kaya Henkes-Power Joined Lookout earlier this year through Cabrillo College’s journalism program. While her internship finished in May, she is continuing to write profiles for our How I Got My Job series, which she helped to launch in March.
And we now welcome a group of interns this summer:
Newsrooms interns: Jean Yi, Beki San Martin and Gabrielle Gillette. Jean comes to Lookout as a recent graduate of Stanford University, working on data-driven stories and visualizations. Beki is a student with UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She is a general assignment reporter focusing on covering South County. Santa Cruz County native Gabrielle is a recent graduate of Cabrillo College’s journalism program who is working as a general assignment reporter before heading to UCLA this fall.
Business interns: We welcome incoming UCSC senior Anna Hamai, who’s studying business management economics, and incoming Pacific Collegiate School senior Henry Bellevin. They will be working on a variety of marketing projects and campaigns and learning the behind-the-scenes work of a local startup.
Enjoy the season ahead.
Ken Doctor, CEO & Founder
Lookout Local | Lookout Santa Cruz