Brown sworn in as gov., Harris as AG, Newsom to follow 

A trio of Democratic Bay Area politicians is assuming the reins of the leadership of California.

Oakland's Jerry Brown was inaugurated as governor late this morning and San Francisco's Kamala Harris assumed the post of attorney general this afternoon.

Brown, 72, a former California governor from 1975 to 1983, Oakland mayor from 1999 to 2007, and who was most recently California attorney general, was sworn into office in Sacramento at 11:20 a.m.

Brown, sworn in by the new chief justice of California, paused briefly to some laughter in the audience at the phrase, "without any mental reservation." Brown, who was once ridiculed earlier on in his political career as "Governor Moonbeam" for his progressive ideas at the time, is now the state's oldest elected governor.

"Really, no mental reservation!" he added with a smile.

The ceremony was attended by outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-San Francisco.

In his inaugural speech, Brown touched on familiar themes of economic uncertainty, political divisiveness and job creation.

"The year ahead will demand courage and sacrifice," Brown said. With California's budget deficit in the tens of billions, he said the budget he will present next week "will be painful, but it will be an honest budget."

Brown said he will make efforts to eliminate government waste, but also noted that government helps pay for things voters want, such as universities, parks, health care, prisons, income assistance, tax incentives, environmental protection, firefighting and other programs.

Brown said he would remain true to the three principles he espoused during his campaign: to "speak the truth" on the budget; to impose no new taxes unless voters approve them; and to return decisions as much as possible to local governments and school districts.

Brown praised California's leadership as the world's eighth-largest economy, everything from its universities, farmers, small businesses, nurses, teachers and law enforcement to Hollywood.

They "all give hope, to an even more abundant future up ahead," Brown said.

Brown also promised to work on spurring the creation of more jobs in California's renewable energy economy and to ensure that schools "are places of real learning."

He said the condition of California's water and pension systems would have to be looked at closely.

Harris, who has served as San Francisco's district attorney since 2004, was sworn in early this afternoon. She is the first woman, African-American and South Asian-American to be attorney general of California.

In her speech, Harris pledged to work on reducing recidivism, reforming the prison system and fighting gangs. She said her approach would be both "tough" and "smart" on crime.

"Being tough and smart means recognizing that we have a long-term imbalance in our criminal justice system in California, which we ignore at our own peril," Harris said, according to a transcript of her remarks provided by her office.

"When an appalling 70 percent of those released from our overburdened correctional system reappear in the revolving door within three years; when we spend twice as much on prisons as we invest in colleges and universities; and when organized violent criminal gangs continue to present an expanding threat across borders and prison walls ... It is time to recognize the need for some drastic repair," Harris said.

She will convene legal and law enforcement experts in a series of working groups on gangs, reducing truancy, protecting the environment and fighting mortgage fraud and identity theft, she said.

A third Bay Area native, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, is expected to be sworn in as lieutenant governor of California by Jan. 10. Newsom has served as the city's mayor since 2004.

Newsom has said he would delay his swearing-in to complete work on several projects and ensure a stable mayoral transition in San Francisco. Newsom will also be able to choose a new district attorney to replace Harris.

Upon Newsom's inauguration as lieutenant governor, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu becomes acting mayor. The 11-member board may then appoint, by a vote of six or more, an interim mayor until the next mayoral election in November.

But Newsom's stalling of his inauguration could push that vote to the next Board of Supervisors.

Four new members will be sworn in Saturday, and the composition of the new board is considered a bit more moderate than the current board, whose members have often clashed with Newsom on city policy.

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