Sporting a baseball glove and a San Francisco Giants cap, Supervisor Shirlee Zane did her best Hunter Pence-like pep talk in front of some 450 community leaders Friday.
"We are coming back in a big way, in a Giant way," she said at the annual fall economic forecast breakfast.
It was a noble effort. My only quibble is that she compared Sonoma County to Tim Lincecum, which, coming after Thursday's game, was probably not what many in the crowd wanted to hear. They wanted something more — how should I put it — assuring.
Well, they got it.
Before I go on, I first want to take you back nearly four years to another economic outlook breakfast, this one in Rohnert Park. It had to be one of the gloomiest ever held in the county. There was little joking. Few smiles. And when the speaker, an economist, told the crowd that home prices in Sonoma County had already dropped 40 percent "twice the national average," the only thing you could hear was a long slow whistle from somewhere in the crowd. Like a bomb dropping.
But on Friday, it was a far different story. There were no bombs, except for maybe some of the jokes. There was such good humor that someone seated in the hall at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel might have thought a Rotary meeting had broken out. The reason is Sonoma County was finally hearing some things it's been waiting to hear for some time.
Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics in Los Angeles, an engaging guy who has done this for nearly 10 years, started by acknowledging all the "doom and gloom" about the economy amid this election season. He called it "totally overblown."
"Folks, the economy is fixing itself," he said.
The national economy has been accelerating of late. Although the recovery has been slow, it has been steady. Private-sector growth as a percent of GDP has averaged 3.2 percent in the past two years. The average from 1995 to 2007 was 3.4 percent, he noted.