Friday, December 19, 2008

When you think of foreclosures, think of the Hotline

This is nice. The Hotline is now routinely mentioned as a resource every time a news outlet does a story on a topic related to foreclosures. In this story about evictions from December 17 on Channel 4, the news team discusses the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline at the end of the story. This has happily become a trend.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The more popular McMaken

My uncle Herb is a Real Santa. Real Santas are men with bona fide long white beards who get paid premiums to be "Santa's Helpers" at stores and events. There is a listing of them at The good malls all have Real Santas.

Herb was Santa recently at the Orange County Market Place. According to the Newport Beach Daily Pilot:

The beginning of the Holiday shopping season at the Orange County Market Place is heralded each year with the arrival of Santa Claus.

This year Santa was helped by Anaheim resident Herb McMaken, who arrived in a red 1929 Model A roadster Saturday morning at the swap meet, waving to holiday shoppers and children.

The kids lined up to sit on Santa’s lap this year are still asking for the same stuff they always have, despite a less-than-cheery economic climate — they want toys, video games and ponies, McMaken said.

“Santa’s not worried about the economy,” McMaken said. “He still has plenty of toys.”

If Santa isn’t worried about the economy, the vendors at the swap meet are. This holiday shopping season has been slower than in past years for sellers at the Orange County Market Place, who come each week to sell everything from flip flops and T-shirts to handmade quilts.

I'm a man on the street...

...since I'm not a political or business leader.

See me at the bottom of this list from the Rocky (December 4)

Reaction from local political and business leaders and people on the street Thursday to the announcement that the Rocky Mountain News is for sale:

* Gov. Bill Ritter: "I spoke earlier today with Scripps President and CEO Rich Boehne about the sale and told him I hope Colorado's oldest newspaper and longest continually operating business can survive the worst economic crisis this country has seen in decades.

Newspapers around the nation have been particularly hard hit for years, and this downturn is impacting newspapers as badly as any industry, but nobody should be writing the Rocky's obituary just yet. I have the highest regard for the Rocky's Pulitzer-prize winning journalists and for Editor/Publisher/President John Temple's involvement and leadership in the community, and I'm hopeful the community will continue to benefit from the Rocky for years to come."

* Mayor John Hickenlooper: "We have great respect for the reporters, staff and management of the Rocky Mountain News and appreciate that these are difficult economic times for many. It's hard to imagine Colorado without the Rocky. We sincerely hope there is a solution to its financial challenges."

* Sharon Linhart, managing partner of Linhart Public Relations: "It is a tough time in the newspaper business, but I hope the new owner will find a way to keep the newspaper operating. The Rocky is an outstanding newspaper with a legendary history. We are blessed in Denver to have two daily newspapers, and I hope that will be the case long into the future."

* Wendy Aiello, president of Aiello Public Relations and Marketing: "I'm devastated. We knew something was going to give, but to actually see it happen . . . it's like your foundation is crumbling. The newspaper is the soul of our city. As a public relations professional, it's certainly not good news on a very selfish basis. We've all worked in this community together for so long. We've watched this happen all over the country and have it finally hit so close to home, and in such a vibrant media market. It's such a tragic thing to see.

* Pasquale "Pocky" Maranzino, president of advertising agency Karsh & Hagan: Maranzino's connections to the paper go way back. He worked as a paperboy for the Rocky, and his father was a columnist for 33 years. Karsh & Hagan did the advertising for the Rocky from 1995 to 2000 and later for the Denver Newspaper Agency: "The Rocky Mountain News is 150 years old and is part of our society in Denver. As a Denver native, I'm saddened at the thought. I'm hoping it will continue to exist and that there will be a buyer for it.

On the other hand, I understand the economic concerns for Scripps and what's happening with the evolution in our information society. The Rocky has a great personality and, because it's a tabloid, fits into people's lifestyles better than the competition - no offense to the Post. I think there's a niche of readers, people who are segregated by their age, who really can't function without reading their daily newspapers."

* Doug Jones, owner of Jones Realty Group: "The Rocky has been synonymous with the news, growth and the voice of Denver since its birth. Hopefully, it will continue. It does suggest the magnitude of the downturn."

* Denver native Gerry Armstrong, 67, said he first started reading the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post in the sixth or seventh grade, especially enjoying the general news, commentary and business.

"I got to read it after Dad," said Armstrong, a real estate investor and shareholder rights advocate. He especially remembers examining the 1952 election results with his grandfather.

Armstrong said he would miss the Rocky Mountain News if it folds - "competition drives better quality" - but he also said he believes the newspapers aren't what they used to be.

"I read both newspapers regularly. Both are getting so light on the number of pages, more condensed than I like."

* Curtis Kennedy, attorney for the Association of U S West Retirees, said he has read both local newspapers since moving to Denver in the early 1980s. He often proudly tells friends from other states that Denver is fortunate to have two newspapers.

He said he believes two newspapers provide a more balanced view of a community, with readers often getting two sides or different dimensions to the same story.

"I can tell you from my experience living in big cities with two newspapers that every time they'd go down to one, it was the worst thing that could happen for an informed public. It's a death knell for the informed reader."

* Gary Bauer, independent real estate broker: "I'm not surprised Scripps is selling something, but I'm surprised it is the News. I would think they would be selling other assets first. It will be interesting to see if Phil Anschutz wants to buy it. He would seem to be one logical purchaser."

* Marty Jones, a devout newspaper reader and publicist for craft brewer Oskar Blues Brewery, was stunned when told of the Rocky's sale: "Oh my gosh! That's terrible news," he said on the phone.

"I feel awful for all of the staffers there who got this news, especially right before the holidays," Jones wrote in a follow-up e-mail.

"When I moved here 13 years ago, one of the biggest attractions of Denver was its rare status as a two-newspaper town," Jones said.

"That makes for a great and well-informed city. I hate to see it end, big loss for the town and our culture."

* Ryan McMaken, spokesman for [CDH]: "If the PR industry here knew what was good for it, we'd all just put together some kind of joint stock company and buy the News. I'm just going to pray that at the VERY least, the News continues as some kind of sleek online news source."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Old-school clipping: higher education vouchers

Once upon a time, the organization I headed became embroiled in a massive overhaul of higher education which eventually produced the "College Opportunity Fund." The fund is not without its critics although it seemed like a fairly decent idea at the time. Here is a report on the event from the days of yore. I hadn't looked at this in a while, and I'm quite surprised at how candid I am in my comments.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Twitter's role controversial

Alexander Wolfe of Information Week notes that the police were concerned that the Tweeters might be giving away strategic information. Wolfe doubts that any info of use was given away.

The most important piece of information to come out of all of the Tweeting is that "official" journalism is no longer the best source for breaking news of this kind:

I'd add that Mumbai is likely to be viewed in hindsight as the first instance of the paradigmatic shift in crisis coverage: namely, journalists will henceforth no longer be the first to bring us information. Rather, they will be a conduit for the stream of images and video shot by a mix of amateurs and professionals on scene.

Mumbai Attack Aftermath Detailed, Tweet by Tweet

The Wired blog has a great post on how social media is providing some of the best current coverage coming out of the Mumbai massacres.

I'm often asked even by technophiles what purpose Twitter serves. This is just one example if its use in crises. I recently read that the American Red Cross also uses Twitter to provide updates to its network of volunteers.

I'm reminded of how in 1991 when Gorbachev was deposed in a temporary coup d'état, Internet Relay Chat, aka "IRC", was used to relay information on the crisis since all television and radio in Russia had been shut down.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I love Bloomberg

Not the man, but his news empire. With Bloomberg's streaming video and detailed reporting, I really don't see the need for the Wall Street Journal at all. The Journal has become obnoxiously politicized in recent years, while Bloomberg has flowered into the place for financial news. And, Bloomberg actually offers unusual viewpoints such as those of investor Jim Rogers. Most business news sources ignored the financial panic in its early days, while Bloomberg was way out front.

Managing expectations

Managing expectations with the Foreclosure Hotline is a big deal for us. Since it's administered by non-profits, capacity and response time are a constant challenge:

"For many homeowners, getting help can be frustrating"
November 23, 2008
THE (Colorado Springs) GAZETTE

At a time when record numbers of people have fallen into foreclosure in the Colorado Springs area, Brooks believes he's exactly the type of troubled homeowner that lawmakers, housing advocacy groups and consumer counseling agencies want to help. So, he's called his lender to see if he can work out a deal, contacted financial counseling services and pursued assistance through a new federal program.

"People like this fellow (Brooks) are trying to think ahead and be pro-active before they reach the panic zone, but they're at a disadvantage because they're trying to access the same resources as other people ... who already are in foreclosure and who have a more urgent situation," said Ryan McMaken, a CDH spokesman.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Student Association Activities and Photos

Lobbying doesn't interest me much anymore, but I found an old page of the CSA web site I created a few years back, so I saved a few of the pages, since I realized I had forgotten most of the information here.

I'm especially proud of the fact that I was able to do so much with such a tiny budget.

From the old web site:

Legislation and Lobbying

Legislation and Public Policy - The Colorado Student Association works with the Colorado General Assembly and the Colorado Commission on Higher Education to ensure that student interests are considered when decisions are made regarding financial aid, transfer credits, curriculum, program selection, governance, tuition rates, and higher education funding. Three times a year, our representative assembly assigns the Board of Directors a legislative agenda.

The Colorado Student Association holds a seat on the advisory committee of the Colorado Commission of Higher Education, and CCHE ad hoc committees such as the Governor's Blue Ribbon Committee on Higher Education Finance and Governance and the General Education Coordinatting Committee. CSA provides full time lobbying services.

Many organizations settle for a lobbyist that merely "monitors legislation," but the Colorado Student Association actively promotes legislation, secures sponsors for new legislation, and meets with all higher education lobbyists on a regular basis during the legislative session from January to May. Guests at our events in recent years have included House Majority Leader Keith King, CCHE Executive Director Tim Foster, and a variety of Commission members and CCHE staff.

Since legislators generally make up their minds about legislation long before bills are heard in committee, the idea that one can properly influence legislation by testifying before committees is a myth. Publicity shots and sound bytes cannot substitute for personal, full-time lobbying services provided by our staff.

Our office one block south of the State Capitol Building allows us to easily attend all relevant hearings, committee meetings, and floor debates related to state higher education statutes.

History of Recent Legislative Action

As the budget process is a year-round process, CSA is always working to ensure affordable tuition rates for Colorado's students. Much of this work is done through our seat on the Colorado Commission of Higher Education, but is also accomplished through regular interaction with the Joint Budget Committee during their fall hearings on the Dept. of Higher Education. This is a constant concern of ours from the time the Dept. submits its budget to the JBC in late summer to the time that budget bill is introduced the following April. As with the Commission, financial aid is also a top priority for us.

We also work on non-budgetary legislation as outlined below. The below list only includes major legislative changes, however. Please contact our office more more information:

2004 Session - This upcoming year, CSA has secured Rep. Nancy Spence (Chair, House Education Committee) as sponsor of new legislation creating optional programs for students seeking tuition stability over a four or five year period. This legislation would enable students to enter into agreements with public higher education institutions that would guarantee students a fixed tuition rate for the duration of the degree program. Students who choose to enter into these agreements could then enter school knowing that they would not be looking at any unexpected tuition increases a few years down the line.

In addition to other pending issues, CSA also plans to make sure that the amendments we were able to add to last years "College Opportunity Fund" legislation remains in the new COF bill. Please contact us for more information.

2003 Session - CSA worked on primarily two issues this session: student privacy legislation and the higher education voucher legislation. With identify theft as the largest property crime in America, CSA wrote and secured sponsorship (Rep. Nancy Spence) for a bill (HB 1175) prohibiting the use of a student's social security number in class rosters, identification cards, and library accounts. This legislation was designed to compel the CU, CSU, and Community College systems to end the practice of using student SSN's as primary identification numbers. This legislation passed and was signed into law in April 2003.

CSA also authored numerous amendments to the higher education voucher bill (also known as the College Opportunity Fund, HB 1336) during the legislative session. We were successful in having eight of these added to the legislation. Perhaps most important was our increase to the "credit hour cap". The bill failed during the 2003 session but will be introduced again in 2004. Please contact us for more information on the credit cap and the text of these Amendments.

CSA was the only lobbying group other than CCHE itself opposed to defunding CCHE through the budget long bill. The legislature, encouraged by individual colleges, initially supported reducing CCHE's budget to under 100,000 dollars effectively destroying all transfer-credit, distance education, and quality indicator systems that benefit students. CSA was able to make it clear that students depend greatly on the statewide coordination offered by the Commission, and the amendment was killed.

2002 Session - CSA was perhaps most notable during this session for amending out the misdemeanor portions of the higher education "riot bill." Originally, this bill contained language stipulating that a student would be expelled from all state higher education institutions in the event that he or she was convicted of one of four "riot related offenses." Three of these were felonies, but the fourth offense was a minor misdemeanor offense which CSA did not feel was appropriate in a list of mandatory expulsion offenses. Our amendment was successfully passed on Senate Education committee removing this lesser offense.

2001 Session - The 2001 session was a good one for students with the passage of HB1263, the "Student Bill of Rights" creating a statewide system of "guaranteed transfers" assuring students credit for specific core courses regardless of where a student might transfer within the state. This bill was also supplemented by HB 01-1298, the common course numbering system, making it easy for students to determine which courses are equivalent to those at other campuses where one might wish to transfer later. In response to this legislation, CCHE also created a statewide appeals process for students who believe they have no received full credit for transferred courses. CSA staff wrote key provisions of this bill, and we sit on the GE coordinating committee. Please contact us for more information.

After the session, the Governor Appointed his Blue Ribbon Committee on Higher Education Governance. CSA was invited to the table as member of the advisory committee, and was present at all meetings. This was especially important for us, as the genesis of the "credit hour cap" that was to show up in the "College Opportunity Fund" was in this committee.

These photos are not great, but keep in mind that we certainly didn't have funds for a digital camera in 2003:

This is a break-out session at one of our conferences.

Here is a panel discussion during one of our board meetings.

This is a presentation at one of our meetings by the president of the state Student Loan Program.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Identity theft and student ID numbers

Probably the best thing I did as director of the Colorado Student Association was successfully lobby for legislation (which I wrote) prohibiting the use of Social Security numbers as student ID numbers. Here's a clip from the University of Colorado faculty newspaper, The Silver and Gold Record:

Bill would ban use of SSNs as student numbers

January 30, 2003

By Marianne Goodland

HB 1175, sponsored by Rep. Nancy Spence (R-Centennial), would require all institutions of higher education in Colorado to set up randomly-generated identification numbers and end the practice of using SSNs as student ID numbers. Currently, institutions must use SSNs to interface with the federal government on financial aid, student employment and selective service registration. Barbara Todd, CU-Boulder registrar, said this week that it is legal for an institution to use the SSN as a student identifier, and that SSNs routinely appear on class rosters and in the Student Information System (SIS). Faculty use SSNs to look up student records in the SIS and to verify student identities in classes.

It is illegal for anyone to display a student's SSN without his/her consent, which might occur through posting grade lists on a faculty office door. Those lists often identify the student with all or part of the SSN. It is also illegal to pass a roster around in a class to ask students to check-off their names if that roster includes the SSN. "Anytime an instructor passes a roster around or posts it on his/her door, it is displaying student information without the student's consent," Todd said.

Ryan McMaken of the Colorado Student Association testified Monday that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) has for almost 30 years prohibited the release of student Social Security numbers to anyone other than those with a "legitimate educational interest." Most institutions have taken steps to ensure that they do not use a student's SSN to identify the student, McMaken said, but many of the violations still occur at the classroom level. "It often depends on the preference or policy of the individual faculty member," McMaken told the committee.

Violations occur even when only a partial SSN is used, such as on class exams or papers. Three years ago, the U.S. Department of Education ruled that the release of even a partial Social Security number violated FERPA, and McMaken told the committee that in Colorado faculty often use the last four digits in a SSN to identify students on exams or papers. However, he said, many Colorado residents have the same first five digits, and as a result it would be easy for someone to identify the entire SSN once the last four digits are known, he said.

In addition, according to CSA, students have complained that SSNs are often required to renew library books over the phone or online and the numbers are printed on ID cards required for access to dorms, cafeterias and other facilities. McMaken said such violations "are blatantly illegal."

More on higher ed vouchers

Colorado Governor Signs College Voucher Law

State will become first in nation to offer program
By Steven K. Paulson
Associated Press
Community College Times
May 25, 2004

DENVER - Colorado became the first state with a college voucher program this month as Gov. Bill Owens signed a law that will give high school graduates hundreds of dollars to attend state schools, public and private.

The Republican governor said vouchers send a message to high school students that college is not out of reach and that taxpayer money is available to help. He also said the program will spur competition for scholars.

“The more students you attract, the better your institution can do,” Owens said at the May 10 signing. “Today Colorado becomes the first state in the nation to transform the way it funds higher education by empowering individual students.”

The National Conference of State Legislatures said no other state has attempted a voucher program on such a scale: Stipends will be available to all Colorado undergraduate students who qualify for in-state tuition. They can use the money for up to 145 hours of credit, with some allowance for unusual circumstances.

The students do not get a check. Instead, they apply for the stipend when they register and the state sends the money to the school. The amount is set each year by the Legislature, depending on the state budget.

When the program begins in the fall of 2005, the amount will be $2,400 for students attending a public school and $1,200 for low-income students attending three private institutions: Regis University, a Jesuit institution, the University of Denver and Colorado College.

The law says the money can go to religious schools as long as they are not “pervasively sectarian.”

Jacob Garcia, a 23-year-old community college student who wants to major in journalism, said vouchers will force schools to improve.

“I like it when colleges compete for students,” Garcia said.

Ryan McMaken, director of the Colorado Student Association that represents about 60,000 college students, said the program does not put more money into higher education. But he said attaching a dollar figure to each student will make it harder for lawmakers to make cuts.

“This does put us on a better footing. This is half of the solution, making people aware the money is there,” he said.

There is concern among lawmakers that vouchers may have to be cut next year unless voters ease fiscal limits in the state Constitution or agree to use millions of dollars Colorado gets from the national settlement with the tobacco industry.

Without one of those steps, lawmakers warn, higher education and Medicaid will be on the chopping block when they cut an estimated $254 million next year.
Owens is considering whether to call a special legislative session to address the fiscal restraints after the Legislature failed to come up with a plan to present to voters in November.

The vouchers give schools some breathing room: They do not have to count voucher tuition toward revenue limits imposed by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).

University of Colorado President Betsy Hoffman said vouchers are a first step until taxpayers agree to loosen the constitutional restrictions of TABOR and Amendment 23, which requires increased annual spending on K-12 public education.

Tuition and sticker shock

AUGUST 28, 2003
Tuition jumps amid sagging economy

Colorado Springs Independent

As college students flood into classrooms, in Colorado they may be finding themselves with a little less cash to spare.

In June, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens approved a controversial tuition rate hike plan recommended by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education for all state-funded colleges and universities, sending some institutions' costs of attendance to their highest levels ever. With the state's budget feeling the pressure from a dragging Colorado economy, increasing tuitions became the testy compromise between state officials, universities and student groups.

Locally, the typical student attending the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs -- where $8 million in state funding was slashed -- saw his or her tuition jump from $2,750 annually to $3,025, not taking into account housing, meals or mandatory student fees. At Pikes Peak Community College, resident students taking a full schedule will pay between $1,580 and $1,980 -- an approximate 5 percent increase over last year.

Despite a nearly 10 percent tuition hike, UCCS spokesman Tom Hutton says the university did its best to first cut nonessential spending. No faculty or staff vacancies were filled, no computer upgrades were made on campus, and university travel budgets were curtailed.

"Raising tuition was a last resort," said Hutton. "We tried to cut expenses wherever possible. No one got a salary increase this year, from our custodians to the university chancellor. I think students understood that this wasn't something we wanted to do; it's something we had to do."

Other state schools saw an even more significant boost. Yearly tuition at the University of Colorado at Boulder rose a stinging 15 percent from $2,695 to $3,190, the second largest percentage increase in the university's history. Colorado State University hiked up comparable 9.6 percent to $2,908, and the price tag on attendance at University of Northern Colorado in Greeley leveled at $3,207 after shooting 8.6 percent.

The real world

The increases did not come out of the blue. Tuition hikes are a current trend at public universities everywhere, but they are becoming even more substantial with growing state budget cuts during bad economic weather. With education costs at their highest and financial security at a low, the effect on low-income students is more painful than ever, causing some to rethink the value of a college education.

"There's probably going to be some sticker shock this year," said Ryan McMaken, executive director of the Colorado Student Association, a nonprofit legislative lobby for students in higher education. "For the poorest students this will definitely have an impact. If you're in that category, an increase of more than $100 a month is a major difference. There will no doubt be some who won't be willing to pay for higher education when they don't feel financially secure."

With their own savings and parental assistance not going as far as they once did, cash-strapped students are getting schooled in the real world of economics. Ramen noodles and canned spaghetti no longer provide the answer. Many students are moving back in with their parents or taking on long commutes to live in cheaper housing markets. They are also tallying substantial debts.

Christie Leighton, associate director of Student Financial Services at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, said that while students must approach loans cautiously, they should ponder the option.

"Sometimes students are reluctant to take out loans, but it's something to consider," said Leighton. "If a loan allows them to graduate, over time they're going to get a better-paying job because they have a college education."

Storm to stay

Whatever the benefits of a college education, the rising cost is not a trend likely to die anytime soon. This year's hikes followed only somewhat smaller increases the year before, and Colorado schools have been actively seeking more leeway to raise rates even higher.

Last May, the governor vetoed a bill -- strongly lobbied for by university administrators -- that would have allowed the University of Colorado system to bypass the state's ability to overrule any tuition adjustments. With the struggling economy, the financial storm hanging over higher education could stay a while longer.

"There will certainly be some form of tuition hikes coming next year, as there have been in the past," said McMaken. "When income is going up that's not a problem, but that's not what's happening right now."

The fixed-tuition bill

This is some legislation I wrote and successfully pushed in 2004. It became law, although I don't know if it was ever implemented as I left CSA shortly after this article appeared.

Fixed-tuition bill offers students same rate for all college years
Chris Kampfe and Kyle Endres
The CSU Collegian
Issue date: 5/4/04

Four-year college students could pay an unchanging tuition amount every year under a bill passed by the state legislature on Monday.

House Bill 1207, barring Gov. Bill Owens' veto, will allow students to sign a contract upon admission to state higher-education institutions that would grant them a fixed-tuition rate if they promise to graduate in a certain amount of time.

"It's to try to even out price increases and tuition increases so a family can plan their budget and say we know that for the next four years, 'We've got to come up with this amount of money,'" said Rick O'Donnell, executive director of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

The fixed rate would be strictly optional for students.

"In my own opinion, in the way I've seen the bill most recently, though it hasn't passed yet, it makes it optional to offer these fixed-tuition contracts to students, and it makes it optional for students to participate," said Gerard Bomotti, vice president for Administrative Services.

The bill was proposed by Rep. Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, and co-drafted with Ryan McMaken, executive director of the Colorado Student Association.

McMaken said he believes state universities support the idea.

"It isn't a mandate," McMaken said. "It's something they wanted to do in the past."

Bomotti is wary of implementing such contracts in unpredictable economic times.

"An institution can best offer a fixed-tuition program over a four-year period if the environment is more stable," Bomotti said. "Now, the financial environment in Colorado is not stable."

The bill's implementation is contingent on the passage of the College Opportunity Fund, which is also awaiting Owens' approval. This bill would grant stipends, or vouchers, to in-state students for use at state universities, rather than universities receiving funding directly from the state.

Some stipend supporters say the College Opportunity Fund provides the opportunity for universities to attain enterprise status, which would give them more financial flexibility.

Owens will approve the bill this month, O'Donnell said.

He said the fixed-tuition rate would offer students and families more choices in paying for college.

"Not every student or family's going to want it, but it was an option that the institutions saw they could offer that some students would maybe find (is) an easier way to be able manage the cost of college," he said.

But Sen. Peggy Reeves, D-Larimer County, agrees with Bomotti that the fixed-tuition contract bill's timing is questionable.

"I think that we're in a great state of flux within higher education right now," she said. "I think we need to implement the college-opportunity vouchers and understand how that mechanism works and how that shakedown works before we implement this proposal."

Student Debt

Here's a partial clipping on student debt. The issue of credit-card debt was big at the time. I also chaired a panel on the topic at the annual conference of the Colorado Student Loan Program (now College Invest).


Rocky Mountain News
July 8, 2002
Julie Poppen News Staff Writer

...Record low interest rates have Colorado college graduates who are knee-deep in debt angling to consolidate their loans.

There's never been a better time to do it, financial aid officials say. The historic low interest rates on Federal Stafford loans of 3.46 percent for a student in school and 4.06 percent for many graduates kicked in a week ago.

"A lot of students are fairly careless about how they calculate what they're going to be paying back in the future," said Ryan McMaken, president of the Colorado Student Association...

USA Today on voucher plan

Posted 5/10/2004 9:20 PM Updated 5/11/2004 1:31 PM

Colorado to create college voucher plan
DENVER (AP) — Gov. Bill Owens signed Colorado's first-in-the-nation college voucher plan into law Monday, calling it a landmark step that will empower thousands of students.

Owens said the vouchers send a message to high schoolers that college is not out of reach and that state money — up to $2,400 per voucher — is available to help.

"Quality education isn't about institutions, it's about the future of our students," he said. "It's a new day for higher-education funding in America, and I'm proud to say that it's dawning in Colorado."

Stipends will be available to all Colorado undergraduate students who qualify for in-state tuition.

Every year, the Legislature would set the value of the stipend based on the state budget. For next fall, the amount is set at $2,400 for students attending a public institution in Colorado, and $1,200 for low-income students attending three private institutions: Regis University, which is a Catholic institution, the University of Denver and Colorado College.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says no other state has attempted a voucher program on such a scale.

But students might not get the full $2,400 this year because of budget problems, state lawmakers have said. They said the amount will have to be cut to $1,600 unless voters ease fiscal restraints embedded in the state constitution or agree to use millions of dollars Colorado gets from the national settlement with the tobacco industry.

Opponents of the voucher program complained that giving state funds to private colleges would draw money away from state institutions and could be challenged in court. Owens and others, however, say vouchers would encourage more students to go to college.

Ryan McMaken, director of the Colorado Student Association, which represents about 60,000 college students, said the plan does not put more money into higher education. But he said it could make it harder to cut funding.

This article also appeared on

Nation's first college voucher program OK'd

Monday, May 10, 2004 Posted: 2:28 PM EDT (1828 GMT)

DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- Gov. Bill Owens signed Colorado's first-in-the-nation college voucher plan into law Monday, calling it a landmark step that will empower thousands of students...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A recent meat-and-potatoes placement

Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Apartment vacancies hit 6.5 percent
Denver Business Journal

Apartment vacancies in metro Denver increased in the third quarter because of the soft national economy, but remained relatively low by recent standards, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Division of Housing...

“The rental market is being affected by the financial markets,” said Ryan McMaken, community relations director for the Division of Housing.

Monday, November 10, 2008

9News piece on foreclosures

It is apparently unspeakably difficult to produce a screenshot of video of myself in which I look decent. However, this was a pretty good story.

While I prefer to put the division director in front of the camera, sometimes I have to be the spokesman:

A partial transcript:

"From 2006 to 2007 we had this huge jump, 40 percent. The number jumped from about 28,000 filings in 2006 to 39,000 filings in '07. I'm estimating we'll probably see about 45,000 to 50,000 filings in 2008," said Ryan McMaken with the Division of Housing.

McMaken says a recent report from the Pew Charitable Trust that forecasted one out every 25 homeowners in Colorado would likely go into default in the next two years wasn't necessarily offering any new information. McMaken pointed out that such a statistic doesn't necessarily indicate that there will be a correlating increase in foreclosure.

"One in 25 does seem very high, but you want to keep in mind that this is only dealing with defaults, so we're talking about those homeowners that have become 90 days overdue in their payments. It doesn't necessarily mean that default will end up in foreclosure," said McMaken.

Many have been wondering if the crisis on Wall Street has "bottomed out." The same could be asked of the housing/foreclosure crisis. Much like the nebulous stock market, the answer for the housing sector is fluid.

"That's very difficult to say, certainly for 2008 I don't think it's the case that we've bottomed out," said McMaken.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Great CNN Money Video on the Hotline

CNN Money came to town to work on a foreclosure story. I was able to have them feature both our Division Director and one of our board members in the story. They ended up producing this great video.

New Foreclosure Hotline YouTube Channel

I put together a YouTube channel for all the video content we've produced around the Foreclosure Hotline. Recently, Fireside Production made a great mini-documentary about the Hotline which I've featured on the channel.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Twitter and Facebook make you a better person

Well, at the very least, they improve your "ambient awareness" of other people, which is apparently a good thing. Jeremy Liew explains, as does the extensive NYT article on the topic.

I must admit, I don't mind hearing about it when a friend microblogs about writing cover letters.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

About Ryan

This is an online portfolio. Simply click on the information you'd like to see. Due to the limitations of the Blogger software, the files are posted as JPEGs. PDF files will be available soon through my Linkedin application.

My Résumé

My Bio

My Linkedin Profile

My work on the Colorado Blue Ribbon Panel on Housing

My Foreclosure Hotline YouTube Channel

Publications Portfolio

Government Relations Work

Portfolio of Press Releases and Research, etc.

My Work on The Colorado Foreclosure Hotline

Thursday, June 26, 2008

About Ryan

Click here for my bio.

My Résumé

Click here to view my résumé.

Portfolio of Press Releases and Research, etc.

Click here for some more samples of my written work.

Publications Portfolio

Click here for a portfolio of brochures, flyers, mailers, etc.

The Colorado Blue Ribbon Panel on Housing

Click here for more information on my work with the Colorado Blue Ribbon Panel on Housing

The Colorado Foreclosure Hotline

Click here for more on my work with the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline.

Some clippings

Click here for some of my clippings from my work as a spokesman for the Division.

Government Relations

Click here for more on my work with public policy and regulation.

Mises Institute articles (and other writings)

As of April 2013, I am the editor of The Free Market, the monthly flagship publication of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Here's the issue archive. Click here for an archive of my articles published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

The Mises Institute is an academic and research organization that publishes articles and books on economics and political economy from a free-market perspective. I've presented academic papers there during their annual scholar conferences. Topics of my papers over the years have ranged from 1970's conspiracy films to 19th-century British liberalism to the use of media in public policy.

These days, my focus is on libertarian themes in film and television and the intellectual history of the libertarian movement.

I also write for a related site called LRC, as it's known, is a top-ranking libertarian web site. It is edited by LewRockwell, the founder of the Mises Institute. Here is my article archive. These writings are far more polemical, and I now disavow some of the older ones, having changed some of my views over the years. Prior to 2003, for example, I was a restrictionist on immigration, although I now favor open borders.

Ryan's archives at

These are articles I've written over the years for the blog which is a libertarian Web site edited by the president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Some are still good reads, some have aged very poorly, and some I now repudiate altogether.

I also blog fairly regularly on the blog. We are mostly college professors, journalists, attorneys, and others who write primarily on policies and public affairs issues as related to Classical Liberalism.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Colorado Foreclosure Hotline

I am a founding member of the Colorado Foreclosure Prevention Task Force and the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline. I am a member of the Task Force's executive committee which oversees the Hotline's activities and funding.

In late 2005, I began working with the Community Relations office at JPMorgan Chase to put together a local response to high foreclosure rates in Colorado. The Colorado Foreclosure Prevention Task Force was quickly formed, and the task force set to work exploring solutions to the foreclosure situation, which at the time was still in its early stages.

As the primary staff person serving the Task Force, I put together a statewide group of public trustees, local officials, Realtors, lobbyists, mortgage brokers, state officials, mortgage insurance companies, housing counseling agencies, and other interested groups. The Task Force brought with it decades of expertise in numerous aspects of foreclosures, real estate, banking, and housing counseling.

The Task Force settled on the idea of a hotline connecting all the housing counseling agencies in the state. As the hotline began to take shape, I took the lead in gaining national and local recognition of the hotline in preparation for the future funding and marketing needs of the hotline.

In the early days of the Hotline, I had difficulty gaining recognition for the Hotline. A national hotline with 20 million dollars of funding had been getting most of the attention up until that time. The Colorado Hotline's model of local services is quite superior to the national hotline's model, however, and by securing the help of some key mortgage industry people and the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, I started to break through the the national lenders on whom we are dependent for funding.

Today, few doubt that the Hotline is one of the best in the nation. The very large amount of local coverage I was able to gain for the Hotline turned into national coverage and led to 2 stories on Fox News (one of which featured me personally), 2 stories at CNN Money, a column in the Wall Street Journal, and a story in TIME Magazine. I was also recently featured on National Public Radio's Marketplace.

I have established the Division of Housing as the source for foreclosure statistics and foreclosure commentary in Colorado, and rarely is there a story on foreclosures in Colorado that does not mention the Division of Housing in some capacity.

I have organized over 25 events in the last 2 years for the Hotline. Some have been events with elected officials such as "town hall meetings," some have been panels at conferences, and some have been public forums of various kinds.

I have developed a wide variety of marketing campaigns including public service announcements for television and radio, paid advertising, free media through print and electronic media, and public events designed to drive people to the Hotline.

After only 18 months, the Hotline has received over 45,000 calls, and continues to grow in its exposure and prominence as a premier hotline.

On August 25th, the Hotline officially became a nationally-recognized and award-winning Hotline when the National Association of REALTORS recognized the Hotline with an award and cash donation at a Democratic National Convention luncheon in Denver.

Professional Academic Work

Over the years I've attempted to stay somewhat connected to the academic world because it is interesting, and because I want to stay informed as a college instructor.

My primary research interests have long been American politics (especially Congressional politics), state and local government, political philosophy, Mexican politics, and U.S. - Mexico relations.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Click here to go to Ryan's Linkedin page.

The Colorado Blue Ribbon Panel on Housing

The Colorado Blue Ribbon Panel on Housing met from October of 2004 to November of 2005. When it was created, the panel was the first statewide panel in 17 years to examine housing policy in Colorado.

In order to make the panel truly reflective of the many interests involved in housing in Colorado, it was my job to assemble members from the for-profit, government, and non-profit sectors in order for them to come together and produce recommendations on a statewide housing agenda.

Members were generally chief executives from the local for-profit sector such as owners of single-family housing construction firms and directors of economic development groups; or they were board members from professional associations like the Realtors Association; or they were government representatives like county commissioners, mayors, city managers, and members of the General Assembly.

I put together the monthly agendas, arranged the meetings, and ensured the members were satisfied with the progress being made. I screened presenters and arranged for informational presentations and developed the final recommendations. By the end of the process, the panel members can formed a cooperative group whose final recommendations effectively set the tone for housing policy for quite some time.

I wrote the final 60-page report which can be found here:

To provide an opportunity for more localized views to inform the Panel, I organized six local advisory committees known as roundtables. These groups represented six different regions of the state including mountain rural resort areas, the eastern plains, and southern Colorado.

In some cases I organized statewide videoconferencing to allow all groups to see each other, and I traveled throughout the state to meet with local representatives from each group. Most members of these groups were local elected officials or affordable housing officials from non-profit groups.

The Panel's report and conclusions eventually set the agenda for a statewide public policy agenda regarding housing and local government.

Clippings, Part I

Naturally, I always prefer to direct reporters to the Division Director when appropriate, but I'm often put in the role of spokesman.

It's often interesting to see how news gets reported. On July 18th, 2008, I was quoted in the Wall Street Journal regarding work I'm doing on foreclosures here in Colorado.

The article pits me against Realtytrac, a foreclosure tracking business out of California. In fact, Realtytrac and I worked out our differences months ago. So the article, while technically correct, is extremely dated. It's odd that they're publishing this story now, but it's nice to be quoted in the WSJ:

We have a pretty good relationship with the home builders:

Why does this web site exist? exists solely to provide an online location for information about my public affairs work in order to assist me when job opportunities present themselves. As time goes on, this page will become a more and more complete online portfolio.

I have chosen this blog format because the software allows me to make updates and add information with minimal effort. The service also provides hosting services free of charge, so I don't need to pay any monthly fees to keep this site online.

This format has certain limitations however, and I am unable to post PDF files or other document formats. Posted documents will be in JPEG format until a better, but equally cost-effective, solution is found.

Government Relations

I've worked with legislation and policymaking from both outside and from within the government.

For four years with the student association, I worked primarily as a registered lobbyist, writing bills and amendments, lobbying the caucuses and the Joint Budget Committee on budget issues, and generally promoting positive relationships between the association and elected officials from the state government.

In recent years I've managed the Division of Housing's local government relations and provided analysis of local elections, ordinances, and agendas.

At the Congressional level, I've spent quite a bit of time doing joint events with members of Colorado's Congressional delegation and lobbying members and their staff on housing issues.

At the state level, I've planned numerous community events with members of the General Assembly while analyzing elections, legislation, and state budgets.

There is no elected official I won't work with. It is a priority of mine to find common ground and work with any elected official regardless of party, ideology, or agenda.

Here is a list of some of the legislation and public policies I've monitored, analyzed, or lobbied over the years:

State Level:
Higher Education: Common course numbering system
Higher Education: The creation of the College Opportunity Fund
Higher Education: Student privacy and ID numbers
Higher Education: A four-year fixed tuition plan
Higher Education: Expulsion for student rioting
Local governments and energy efficiency
Manufactured housing regulation
Tenant-landlord relations
State Housing Trust Fund
The Creation of the Foreclosure Prevention Fund

Higher Education funding, grants and loans
GSE Regulation (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac issues)
National Housing Trust Fund
The HOPE for Homeowners Act of 2008 (foreclosure prevention)

Local Issues:
Inclusionary Zoning ordinances
Rent Control
Energy Efficiency
Building Codes
Land Use
Affordable Housing

About Ryan

Ryan McMaken is a public affairs professional with ten years of experience in lobbying, media relations, event planning, public relations, and economic analysis. Ryan is presently the spokesman and economist at the Colorado Division of Housing.

In 2000, Ryan became the lobbyist for the Colorado Student Association where he wrote amendments, authored legislation, and provided research and testimony for a variety of higher education bills. During the 2003 legislative session, Ryan authored House Bill 1175 which prohibited colleges from using a student's social security number as a student identification number. The bill was signed into law later that year.

As Community Relations Director for the Colorado Division of Housing, Ryan organized the Colorado Blue Ribbon Panel on Housing, bringing together representatives from the banking, housing, real estate, construction, and local government sectors to address housing issues in the state. For the first time since 1988, private sector groups like the Colorado Realtors Association and the Colorado Mortgage Lenders Association met with local government and affordable housing groups to consider housing policy on a statewide level.

Since 2006, Ryan has directed the marketing and public affairs agenda for the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline, the first statewide foreclosure hotline in the nation, and the most successful. Since its inception, Ryan has facilitated coverage of the hotline in USA Today, The New York Times, NBC Nightly News, and countless local television, radio, and print outlets. Ryan has also fostered partnerships between the hotline, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, and numerous national lenders such as Wells Fargo and US Bank.

As spokesman for the Division, Ryan has been featured on 9News, KOA Radio 850, La Buena Onda 1150 AM, and local radio in Greeley, Aspen, and Grand Junction.

Ryan has organized numerous call-in "Mortgage Line 9" events with 9News in Denver and with KOAA TV in Colorado springs.

Ryan places numerous articles quarterly with the business media throughout Colorado to publicize quarterly and annual reports on the housing industry in Colorado. Since Ryan joined the staff, Division of Housing staff members are now regularly featured as housing experts in The Rocky Mountain News, the Denver Post, The Denver Business Journal, The Northern Colorado Business Report, The Fort Collins Coloradoan, the Greeley Tribune, The Colorado Springs Gazette, The Pueblo Chieftain, and The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. Positive press coverage of the Division is up about 1200 percent since 2004.

Ryan directs government relations for the Division, monitoring legislation that affects the Division, and offering amendments to pending legislation when necessary. Most recently, Ryan represented the Division in legislative conflicts over energy efficiency standards, tenant-landlord relations, and regulation of the mortgage industry regarding foreclosures.

Ryan has headed event planning as the Division has recently co-hosted over a dozen town hall meetings and public forums with Colorado state legislators and members of Colorado's Congressional delegation.

Ryan has a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a master’s degree in political science from the University of Colorado at Denver. Ryan has also studied public affairs extensively while at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs and at the University of Colorado’s Graduate School of Public Affairs.

Ryan is currently an adjunct faculty member in the Social Sciences Department at Arapahoe Community College where he teaches Introduction to Political Science and American Politics.

My résumé (full post)

Please click on each page for the full view:

The Colorado Blue Ribbon Panel on Housing

Click here for more information on Ryan's work on the Blue Ribbon Panel on Housing.

Portfolio, Pt II

Here are some examples of items like fundraising letters, press releases, op-eds, and reports.

Written work on legislative issues is available upon request, but I'm reluctant to post such communications online.

Here is an op-ed I wrote for the Realtytrac newsletter which is read primarily by real estate investors:

Here is a press release I wrote for our quarterly report on multifamily housing:
Here's is a release for our quarterly foreclosure report that I write (see below for the report itself):

Here's another release for a different vacancy and rent report:
This is a fundraising letter to mortgage companies I wrote for the co-chairs of the Foreclosure Prevention Task Force. The Task Force has raised about $500,000 from the private sector:

This is a portion of one of the quarterly foreclosure reports that I write:

Portfolio, Pt I

I'm not a graphic artist, but I can put together publications when absolutely necessary, as with the publications below. I've written the copy for all of the documents below.

Click on each item for the full view.

This is a brochure:

This is a full page informational ad for a trade publication for people within the factory-built housing industry:

This is a "palm card" that is designed to be handed out or mailed. It is the size of a standard No. 10 business envelope. Many local governments and other organizations send this out to people in foreclosure:
This is a flyer for a highly successful event I organized for 2007's affordable housing week. We had an overflow crowd, and a great panel as you can see:
This is a flyer for one of our foreclosure town hall meetings. During 2008, I've organized about 12 of these in partnerships with various state, federal, and local officials: