While his speech was brief and never mentioned Orange County, Gov. Jerry Brown delivered a boost Tuesday night to a local Democratic Party trying to recover from an embezzlement scandal that has rocked Democratic office holders and organizations statewide.

As the headliner for the Truman Dinner, the Democratic Party’s annual fundraising event, Brown entertained a packed crowd at the Irvine Airport Hilton mainly by talking about how he approached his job the third time around.

Brown didn’t mention the $49.5 million in vehicle license fees that he took from Orange County to help balance the state budget. Nor did he mention anything about the two-year battle to retain the Orange County Fairgrounds in public hands.

Instead, Brown mainly addressed the impact of the Wall Street debacle of recent years.

“We have some difficult days ahead. Millions are suffering,” Brown said, pointing to the lack of government regulation that permitted the meltdown.

Though Brown was at a Democratic event, he continued to sound a bipartisan tone, saying the legislative process requires cooperation. “It is imperative that the Legislature and governor work together.”

Calling himself an older, wiser man than the “young, pretty 36-year old” that came to Sacramento in 1975, Brown stressed how balance needed to become a greater part of politics.

Brown joked that many of the issues he’s focusing on this time around — education, criminal justice, alternative energy and water — are the same issues he tackled in the 1970s.

He spent the majority of his speech criticizing what he sees as the flaws in emphasis on standardized testing in schools.

“There’s a lot that goes on in a classroom that isn’t measured by scores,” Brown said, recalling his own admiration for the Jesuit priests who were teachers at his high school. “A lot of learning is the kids want to be like the teacher, not the test,” Brown said.

Offering the crowd a special insight into the many statewide offices he’s held in recent decades, Brown jokingly recalled the debate among regents of the state university system about requiring the SAT exam for college entry. “They didn’t require SATs when I got into Berkeley, and that’s how Igot in.”

Local Democratic Party Chairman Frank Barbaro addressed the ongoing scandal in which longtime Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee is accused of stealing millions from many campaign accounts. Barbaro said the party would be working with the Orange County Employees Association to replenish local accouts.


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