Judge Denise de Bellefeuille (pictured above right) brought the gavel down on Carpinteria City Councilmember Greg Gandrud, who challenged the ballot language describing and supporting Measure D 2006 – the $1.6 billion congestion relief and road repair sales-tax increase – as false and misleading. After hearing six hours of hair-splitting arguments, de Bellefeuille ruled that Gandrud – an ardent opponent of Measure D – raised legitimate concerns, but failed to meet the burden of proof. Measure D proponents were gratified by the judge’s ruling, but still face an uphill climb in persuading two-thirds of voters to support the quarter-cent sales-tax increase included in the measure.

A longstanding danger zone among Santa Barbara County roadways received a much needed fix this week as CalTrans workers installed a three-way stop sign at the intersection of Highway 192 and Cold Springs Road. According to officials, the addition is a direct result of repeated accidents and delays at the intersection.

Santa Barbara’s fourth train fatality of the year occurred last week on lower State Street. According to eyewitness accounts, 51-year-old Vincent Bracco walked onto the tracks shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, and – despite the flashing of warning lights and sounding of horns – centered himself between the rails, his arms spread wide as if to embrace the fast- approaching 18-million-pound Union Pacific freight train. According to authorities, Bracco had a history of mental illness and had been involuntarily admitted to local mental-health clinics at least 50 times.

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