By Roz Rogoff
Remembering Tom FordUploaded: 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.