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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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DSRSD's Kohnen Scholarship on Hold

Uploaded: Jul 26, 2014

I called Sue Stephenson at the Dublin-San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) in May to find out if anyone applied for the James B. Kohnen $2000 College Scholarship. The entry period closed the end of April. Sue said she received one application but needed to see if the person was qualified.

I called Sue again on July 21st to get the status of the Scholarship. I was on the Scholarship Selection Committee last year and I accepted the invitation to be on it again this year.

Requirements for the $2000 Scholarship include: "Graduating high school seniors, living in and attending high school in the Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) service area. To be eligible, a student must have a grade point average of 3.0 or better and plan to attend a California public college full-time in the fall of 2014." The applicant did not have a 3.0 GPA and was disqualified.

Last year DSRSD also received only one application, but that student met all of the requirements and was awarded the Scholarship. Because the sole applicant this year did not meet the requirements the Scholarship is on hold this year but will be offered again in 2015. DSRSD's External Affairs Committee will try to improve the application process in hope of attracting more applications, but if the application process doesn't improve, next year could be the last year it is offered.

"The scholarship honors former DSRSD Director James B. Kohnen, who was elected to DSRSD's Board of Directors in 1992. During his eight-year tenure, Kohnen was instrumental in many of the District's key achievements: developing water service for the Dougherty Valley; bringing recycled water to the Tri-Valley; expanding water, wastewater, and recycled water services to east Dublin; expanding the Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility; and expanding the Livermore-Amador Valley Water Management Agency pipeline that transports treated wastewater to the San Francisco Bay.

I got to know Jim Kohnen when I was running for the DSRSD Board of Directors. Kohnen and I both taught for University of Phoenix, but he taught "on ground," as classroom instructors are called in University of Phoenix jargon, and I taught "Online."

I mentioned to Sue Stephenson that our Congressman Eric Swalwell submitted a Bill to rename the Dublin Post Office after Jim Kohnen. I ridiculed Swalwell for introducing Bills with minimal controversy and minimal effect. To my surprise Stephenson defended Swalwell.

She liked the bipartisan group he formed with new Congresspersons to work together. He actually didn't form it. It was formed by Patrick Murphy D-Florida and Robert Pittenger R-N.C. "Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla. Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., are leading a group of just-elected lawmakers who say they bonded at recent orientation events for new Members. When their surprising comity and good will kept coming up in conversations, they decided to make it a formal thing." Swalwell's website now describes him as "helping to form" this bipartisan group.

I questioned Swalwell's lack of introducing substantive Bills. Stephenson said he's new and still getting a foothold in Congress. "There's a lot of competition getting Bills introduced in Congress."

I said that Swalwell took advantage of the redistricting when the more established Democrats held off until Rep. Pete Stark retired in 2016. State Senator Ellen Corbett waited to run out of respect for Pete Stark.

Stephenson said "Stark didn't deserve respect. He didn't show respect for us and we were in his District. He should have retired last year." I agreed he should have retired, and it is true that Stark barely visited his District, much less paid any attention to our side of the District.

I liked Ellen Corbett personally when I interviewed her earlier this year. I was surprised she did not finish in the Top Two. I voted for the Republican, Hugh Bussell. Stephenson said she voted for Bussell too. We are both registered Republican. I like Hugh Bussell, but it is unlikely he will defeat Swalwell in the general Election this November.

So Swalwell will probably be reelected, and I hope his Bill to rename the Post Office after Jim Kohnen is passed before the Scholarship in his name is introduced again next April. That would give the James B. Kohnen Scholarship greater name recognition in Dublin and San Ramon, which should encourage more students to apply.

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