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Brown sworn in as new governor

Democrat Jerry Brown was sworn in just after 11 a.m. as California’s 39th governor in a low-key ceremony the Memorial Stadium in Sacramento and as we have come to expect (and fervently hope), he didn’t quite follow the script.

Click here to read my colleague Steve Harmon’s story.

When Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye administered the oath and asked him to state that he was taking office without “mental reservations,” the crowd laughed.

“No, really,” Brown added, to the huge amusement of the friendly audience, whose members included outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria; former Gov. Gray Davis; House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Later, during his 12-minute speech, Brown veered off script, got lost his place and earned another laugh when he said, “That’s what happens when you ad lib.”

Brown was clearly enjoying himself and the moment, which may be among the high points as he heads into deeply difficult negotiations over a $28 billion budget deficit.

It was good to see Brown’s choice of entertainment, too. The Oakland School for the Arts relatively small choir belted out a lively and jazzy version of “This Land is Your Land” and the Oakland Military Institute”s honor guard filled the stage with bright, young faces.

And after the choir sang the National Anthem, it felt as though someone should yell out, “Play ball!”

Brown’s wife, Anne Gust Brown, received a standing ovation, too, an indication of how fond Democrats have become of the woman the governor openly admires, not only as a mate but as a political adviser. The Browns each wore somber black clothing; she in a simple black dress, him in a black suit.

But the morning wasn’t all roses and sunshine.

Brown emphasized at least three times the importance of California’s future over political party and warned that the budget he will unveil next week will please no one.

With Schwarzenegger in the front row, Brown declared “no more smoke and mirrors” on the budget.

“I did not come here to embrace delay and denial,” Brown said.

He also put public employee unions on notice, saying the state must have pensions that are fair to both workers and taxpayers. That could prove interesting, as labor unions were among Brown’s strongest advocates.

Of course, as Schwarzenegger learned, grand speeches packed with earnest declarations and principles are easy. California is in serious financial trouble and as he acknowledged in his opening words, its leaders do not agree on the solutions.

But for Brown’s final works, he quoted an Al Jolson song, “California, here I come, right back where I started from!”

He is here. Again. And the stakes are higher than ever.

(Forgive the lateness of this post. Our blogs were down most of the afternoon. LAV)

I’ve posted video of the event below, in two parts. Brown’s speech is in the second part. (Forgive the poor quality of the video. I was seated toward the rear of the stadium, and the camera slipped off the railing — I was using a gorillapod to hold it up there — mid-way through the event. But the audio is decent!)

Lisa Vorderbrueggen