Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced on 11/5 that he has appointed Jean Dandona and Kay Kuns to judgeships in the Santa Barbara County Superior Court. Dandona, a Democrat and a 60-year-old Carpinteria resident, will fill the vacancy caused by the death of Judge Joseph Lodge earlier this year. And 57-year-old Solvang resident Kuns, who declined to state her political affiliation, will fill the spot formerly occupied by Judge Rodney Melville, who retired in 2007.

In response to the apparent passage of Proposition 8-which will amend the state’s Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman and which seems likely to retain its lead, despite yet-to-be-counted absentee and provisional ballots-the Pacific Pride Foundation organized a candlelight vigil on 11/7 at De la Guerra Plaza. Around 350 attendees-including ordinary citizens and area politicos-stood in protest of what they perceive as a loss of civil rights. (/prop81113)

Rick Caruso, owner of Montecito’s Miramar Hotel property in Montecito, will not run for the mayor’s seat in Los Angeles-at least not this year. Some considered Caruso well-heeled enough to give current mayor Antonio Villaraigosa serious competition, but the developer said last week that he’d rather run for office when his children were older. An appeal of the Miramar project by the Citizens Planning Association goes before the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on 12/9.

Major Allan Dollison-spokesperson for the U.S. Army’s 425th Civil Affairs Battalion, whose headquarters is located at the corner of State Street and Las Positas Road-refuted claims that soldiers abroad were prohibited or in some way impeded from voting in the 11/4 election. Moreover, he said, soldiers in his battalion were now focused on prepping for elections in Iraq, scheduled for 1/31. (/armyvote)

Caltrans and Amtrak jointly announced this week that a record 5.5 million passengers rode California’s state-funded intercity passenger trains in federal fiscal year 2008. Amtrak operates three routes for the state, including the Pacific Surfliner Route that passes through Goleta and downtown Santa Barbara, all supported by Caltran’s annual $80 million contribution. This marks the sixth consecutive year Amtrak has experienced an increase in passengers.

The Coalition for Sustainable Transportation honored Sherrie Fisher, general manager of the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District, during its fourth annual gathering at the downtown Amtrak Station on 10/23. Hired as the county’s first female bus driver in 1974, Fisher received the Barry Siegel Award for her success in working with area government and community organizations since becoming general manager in 2003.

Citing an increase in the amount of cigarette butts found in its parks, the City of Santa Maria is considering a ban on tobacco use in its parks, according to a statement from the County Department of Public Health. Overall, the number of butts collected increased from 222 in November 2007 to 1,713 in September 2008. Department spokesperson Michele Mickiewicz noted that aside from requiring time to clean up, the butts pose health hazards.


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