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By Roz Rogoff

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About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Remembering Tom Ford

Uploaded: Jun 10, 2009
I received a press release yesterday from the Dublin San Ramon Services District that Director Tom Ford died. I knew that Tom's health was declining and that he was close to 80 years old, but I didn't expect this news so soon.

I've known Tom Ford for about eight years. Tom was active in the East Bay Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication for many years. In 2001 I was President of the East Bay Chapter. I was also one of the founders of the South San Ramon Neighborhood Association, which was trying to keep the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District from putting the Dougherty Valley Trunk Sewer in my street. I had to leave an STC meeting early because the hearing on the City's law suit against Central San was the next morning. I mentioned that to Ken Evans, one of the STC members, and Ken told me that his friend Tom Ford was involved in sewer and water issues in Dublin. Ken gave me Tom's phone number and suggested I call him.

Our neighborhood's participation in the City's law suit didn't go too well, so I phoned Ford the next day. I told Ford that my neighborhood was in DSRSD's sewer district, but because the pumping station to send the sewage to Martinez was up the street from my house, Central San wanted to put a 10 million gallon per day (mgd) sewer in my street to serve all of the new developments in Dougherty Valley. Ford was interested in our plight, and thought it might help him get votes in the next DSRSD election.

Ford had run for the Dublin San Ramon Services District twice in the past and lost. The Directors at that time considered Ford a nuisance or gadfly. He was against the plan to inject recycled water into the ground water, which had been dubbed "toilet to tap." The Directors of DSRSD insisted it was perfectly safe and drinkable water, but Ford and many residents didn't think so. I called it "The yuk factor."

In the 2000 election, two of the DSRSD Directors were replaced with new members. When Ford ran again in 2002, he toppled San Ramon representative Cynthia Jones. Cynthia wouldn't come out against the toilet to tap plan, which is probably why she lost. But there was also resentment in my neighborhood that DSRSD didn't do enough to protect us from the Dougherty Valley sewer.

The San Ramon Observer began originally as Stop the Sewer website to gain community support against Central San. When it was obvious that we couldn't stop the sewer, I changed the website into the San Ramon Observer to report on what the City Council was doing before it couldn't be undone.

Tom was also involved with a public information TV show called "Grassroots Issues." This was videotaped in Livermore at the home of Barbara Hickman. The show, broadcast on Cable access 26, enabled local groups to get their issues out in the open. I appeared in one episode talking about how terrible the Dougherty Valley sewer would be for my neighborhood.

In 2004 I was on Grassroots Issues again when I ran for DSRSD. It was a very congenial group that ran in 2004, but I came in last. I thought about running in 2006, but decided I would not run against the incumbents. I thought that Tom Ford or Jeff Hanson might not run, but both did and were reelected.

Ford would have been up for reelection in 2010. I've been thinking about running again in 2010. I suppose the Board will appoint someone to complete Tom's term. I might apply. I'm sure there will be no shortage of applicants.

Comments

Posted by eric, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jun 12, 2009 at 7:27 am

your Remembrance of Tom Ford was a veil for your own political advertisement. you did not say anything of value in remembering Tom Ford. The title of the Article "Remembering Tom Ford" suggests the article is about Tom Ford and not about how many board positions you've been on and have run for and will run for. This was the worst article Ive ever read. and here is the clincher: I did not know anyhting about Tom Ford. I was hoping to read about what a great person you thought he was.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jun 12, 2009 at 11:24 am

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

I don't think it was veiled at all. It was a flat-out history of my run for DSRSD and my possible intention to run again. I knew Tom primarily in context of our interest in Dublin San Ramon Services District, so those are my memories. You didn't know Tom, so you don't have any memories of him to share at all. If someone else has other memories, they should post them.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jun 12, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

This is the announcement of Ford's death sent out by DSRSD earlier this week. It's a lovely tribute with a lot of information I did not know about Tom.

Most recently, Director Ford served as Vice President of the Board of Directors and on its Personnel and Wastewater Committees. He also was a member of the Board of Directors of the Livermore Amador Valley Water Management Agency, a joint powers authority comprised of the cities of Livermore , Pleasanton , and DSRSD that conveys treated wastewater from the member agencies' treatment plants to the San Francisco Bay .

"Director Ford brought very strong financial expertise to the District's Board," said DSRSD General Manager Bert Michalczyk , "and it served us well during his tenure."

"Director Ford promoted the use of private sector efficiency models in the public sector," said District Engineer Dave Requa , citing efficiency measures of the maintenance team as one example. Director Ford was also a strong proponent of the use of alternative energies at DSRSD, including photovoltaic power, co-generation, fuel cells, and the use of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles.

"Tom held his opinions strongly, but was always open to listening to the ideas of others. If you could persuade him in the give and take of debate, he would change his mind when convinced," said Michalczyk. "He asked tough, to-the-point questions, expected good staff work, but was understanding of the real world in which the District operates so he did not look for perfection."

Director Ford had a long and varied career. In the military he was stationed in Japan and various other Pacific bases. After the military he worked for several companies in various sectors including manufacturing, aerospace, finance, and insurance. While a Plant Layout Engineer for Westinghouse, Ford planned and coordinated the installation of streamlined assembly line equipment and improved the flow of materials throughout the plant. He also was instrumental in turning around a failing Westinghouse plant in California . While working at AMPEX in California , Ford and a coworker created a business model that was a comprehensive purchasing-demand and shop-loading system, a predecessor to what is now known as supply chain management.

Director Ford helped start Grassroots Issues, an informational, half-hour television program aired on Cable Channel 26 that offers a broad range of topics to educate local viewers about current issues.

From Pittsburgh , PA , Director Ford has lived in Dublin with his wife Jean since 1985. He holds a Business Degree from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh .

"He was a strong supporter of District customers and staff in all venues and in that regard," said Michalczyk, "we have all lost an advocate and a friend.


Posted by Bob Patrino, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jul 2, 2009 at 10:29 am

I guess Eric didn't read the same article that I did. I thought Roz did a good job describing Tom's contribution to the DSRSD. I remember Tom as being very knowledgeable about water issues in the Valley.


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