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.