Will Jerry Brown offer Californians hope amidst the gloom?

The Sacramento BeeJanuary 3, 2011 

A key moment in the new Jerry Brown administration may very well be its first, as the former governor takes office again this morning and tries to steady California in its financial crisis.

It will start with an inaugural address that the experts say needn't be very long or specific, and that, while acknowledging the state's many challenges, should not entirely depress the citizenry.

Voters picked Brown, after all. While estimating the budget deficit to be as much as $28 billion over 18 months, Brown might also want to give hope he can fix it.

"The inaugural is the first chance for a new governor to reassure voters that they made the right choice," said Bill Whalen, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and former speechwriter for Gov. Pete Wilson.

The speech, he said, should be "visionary and big picture."

Even an electorate cynical of state government might appreciate that, said Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California.

"People are looking for hope and confidence to come out of that speech," he said. "Something that would be difficult for people to handle right now, I think, would be a sense of doom and gloom."

Brown's late father, Gov. Pat Brown, was a gifted speaker, "the master, of course," said Barbara O'Connor, professor emeritus of communication at California State University, Sacramento.

"Pat was just congenial and loving and warm," she said.

O'Connor said Brown, now 72, is more like that today than when he was first governor, from 1975 to 1983. In his third inaugural address, she said, he should "reach to his roots."

To read the complete article, visit www.sacbee.com.

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