Collaboration with COPS/Metro Cited in Close-Up on San Antonio Banker Tom Frost

One moment Tom Frost won't forget created an unexpected collaboration. On Feb. 5, 1975, ...Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS) formed long lines at his bank to disrupt business. One by one, they asked tellers to exchange pennies for dollars, then dollars for pennies.

Angered by the city's refusal to address downtown-area flooding, COPS wanted to get the attention of a powerful CEO with influence at City Hall. Although he disapproved of their action, Frost met with COPS leaders and eventually lent his support to a bond issue to relieve flooding.

Out of that meeting came an unlikely alliance between a banker and activists. While other power brokers rebuffed COPS, Frost became an advocate on education and job training ....

"Our relationship started out confrontational and evolved into one of collaboration," said Andy Sarabia, founding president of COPS. "When we were planning to do something, he would give us advice on how to go about it."

Frost understood that forging community consensus is critical to building the city and raising its profile. When Toyota expressed interest in opening a plant in San Antonio, Frost met with COPS and its sister organization, Metro Alliance. He shared the groups' concerns with Toyota and, in the end, secured the support of COPS/Metro.

"It shows that when you bring everybody together," Frost said, "there's no telling what can get done."