Brown’s Tough Talk For Tough Times

JAN. 4, 2011


With many in the state worried that California is ungovernable, even more hope that the courage and sacrifice demonstrated by California’s residents enduring the state’s economic down turn, means a great deal to newly-elected Gov. Jerry Brown.

In a humor-laden inaugural ceremony on Monday, California ushered in the former-and-newly elected Governor Brown, forever making his unique mark on the state as the 34th and 39th governor.

Apt at making audiences laugh, Brown appeared at first to stumble as he was taking the oath of office as he repeated the words, “without mental reservations.” The audience laughed, and Brown emphasized again that he accepted the office with “NO mental reservations.”

While Brown elicited laughs several times during his short 16- minute speech, he spoke seriously about how state politics had denigrated into a “mere spectacle,” with the two political parties remaining “in their comfort zones, rehearsing and rehashing old political positions.” Appearing to be critical of both the Democratic and Republican parties, Brown said the two parties haven’t been able to come close to agreeing on what needs to happen to turn California around.

He suggested that the elected leaders in the Senate and Assembly “work together as Californians first, and political parties second.”

However, even with the tough talk about the need for change during his speech, Brown’s request of Californians to commit “a loyalty to community larger than individual needs,” elicited a substantial response from the audience. “The year ahead will demand courage and sacrifice,” Brown said.

As Brown insisted that there would be no new taxes without a vote of the people, some quiet murmurs were heard within the audience. Rumors are currently running rampant that Brown will be offering a ballot initiative in June to increase taxes in the state. “Choices have to be made and difficult decisions taken. At this stage in my life, I have not come here to embrace delay or denial,” said Brown, leading many in the audience to believe he was referring to tax increases.

Brown spoke warmly about his family, introducing his 99-year old aunt. He talked about his grandfather, a German immigrant who crossed the country by covered wagon, and his “pioneering spirit (and) their capacity to meet life’s challenges.”

Brown said that he will release his budget plan in one week. “The budget I present next week will be painful but it will be an honest budget.” He promised to spend only what is available in tax revenues while restructuring government services between state and local agencies. “The plan represents my best understanding of our real dilemmas and possibilities. It is a tough budget for tough times.”

The event was peppered with political celebrities, including outgoing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver, former Gov. Gray Davis, Lt. Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

But no one on the state payroll had a busier day than Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who performed most of the swearing-in duties, from morning through the evening.

The state’s executive office holders were sworn in as well on Monday; Attorney General Kamala Harris, Controller John Chiang, Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Treasurer Bill Lockyer and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. The lone hold out was Lieutenant Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, who it appears is comfortable waiting-out his swearing-in until a suitable replacement can be found for his old job as Mayor of San Francisco.

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