Thursday, January 21, 2010

Welcome a filibuster, change or be gone

Here's a thought: Seat the new senator from Massachusetts, finish crafting a decent health-care reform bill that merges House and Senate concerns, and let the Republicans filibuster all they want in the Senate. The vacuousness of their arguments against the bill will show them up as anti-middle-class blowhards.

And the American people, young and old, will welcome action, any action, from Congress, just to shut it up and be able to move on.

The 60-vote super majority in the Senate is just that. A health-care bill can be passed with fewer votes but still a majority, and the stupidity of a Republican stand against all the good parts of the bill might even convince some of them they want to be on the right side of history when the bill is signed into law.

My friend, Bob O'Neil, a successful retired business man out of Chicago, believes the election in Massachusetts was a message to all incumbents in Washington, including Obama, that something must get done or all their futures are in jeopardy.

I remember telling my friend Herman Malone after Obama's election that he had better "change" things or the whole country would explode. Young people in America, who strongly supported him, as well as middle-class whites, are mostly frustrated with the Washington bureaucracy's inabilty to fathom their 2008 election message. "Change" or be gone.

The same message will be sent this year come November if there is no evidence the people were not understood the first time.

Monday, January 18, 2010 Business plan

I'm dying. I need four, $50,000 angel investors to fund a business I am creating as a legacy for my two daughters. Call it the "New Journalism."

Two blogs: one to discuss small business and politics in Colorado; another to discuss the arts in the state, primarily literary art. But also to offer a markeplace for young artists to sell and license their work.

That's my goal. My doctor, Tom Kenney who works out of Porter Hospital, has given me "two, maybe three years" to live under the spell of chemotherapy. So I cannot guarantee a return-on-investment for my investors, other than to pay off the debt at 4 percent interest as soon as revenues reach the point when I can afford to begin making payments.

But time has already passed on the two-year minimum Kenney has given me. So here is my business plan for making my exit. If you are an angel, I hope it interests you. If you are a reader, I hope you enjoy the way I put it to words here.

THE BUSINESS BLOG: “Schwab on Anything” is a speculative play.

The small-business blog, "Schwab on Anything," has already been established and is being marketed on Facebook and Twitter, as well as with a distribution list of e-mail addresses of people interested in the writer's work.

Blogs are the new journalism forced on professional journalists following the Internet's destruction of the traditional newspaper business model. Robert Schwab is an experienced journalist who has covered small business in Denver and Colorado for 13 years at both The Denver Post and ColoradoBiz magazine, where he was editor of the publication for more than six years. At The Post, he started a weekly column on small business called "Schwab on Small Business," which appeared on Saturday's usually on the cover of the business section.

"Schwab on Anything" is an extension of that work. It will profile interesting small businesses from around the state and cover, journalistically, small business issues. It will also cover state politics, and occasionally touch on topics outside either realm that are of interest to the writer. The writer has already, for instance, written several pieces about his personal experience fighting colo-rectal cancer, called "In the Chemo Room." “Anything” reflects an expansion of the writer’s interests, and opens a door to comment on such broad political issues as labor, health care and education.

Advertising will support the blog, but ads will be sold at rates Colorado small businesses can afford, offering an alternative to more expensive mass-media advertising available in The Post and on Denver-area radio and TV broadcast stations. Blog ads will be priced at $300 per month for a display ad. anticipates selling 10 new ads per month and retaining at least 60 percent of initiated ads for periods of at least six months to a year. That revenue stream along with the startup capital provided by investors will allow the business to launch a Colorado Business Almanac and Small Business Directory, which will create another, if limited revenue stream.

Business-card sized ads will be sold for $300 per year for a business to be listed in the directory. The ad will appear in various digital sortings: by industry, by service or product provided, alphabetically, and by years of operation. In the latter list the business owner will have a chance to provide a profile of the business (or have it written by the writers of which can be updated through a password-protected Wiki, allowing the company to update its accomplishments and growth.

(Cash-flow projections will be provided to potential investors as part of a printed presentation of this business plan.)


The almanac will be another reader-friendly entrance to On a separate website from the blog, an almanac of business information gathered from all public sources available in the state will be compiled and updated to provide any current or prospective business owner market information important to his or her business. The directory of small businesses, over time, should include a fairly extensive (and hopefully exhaustive) list of competitor participating in a specific market, including information voluntarily given by business directory participants in their self-written profiles.

The front of the book, however, will contain updated information regarding the latest business and market statistics available statewide, including demographics drawn from Census information, all to be used as reference material to judge the business climate in Colorado.

Once established, it is expected that this front-of-book material, too, would attract advertisers from businesses big and small, drawn particularly by low ad rates and widening readership. That increasing traffic would be driven, too, by the self-promotional ads included in the Small Business Directory – and the business-owner’s ability to update his or her own business profile.

There is no way to project the success of this revenue stream. The book needs to be established and to begin to draw readers in order for ad sales to take place. Until then, no projectons can be made.


This separate website will create a conversation between artists in Colorado and art consumers, and will provide a market for young artists to post their work in hopes of licensing their images or selling original property through the site. It will also serve as a marketplace for writer/owner Robert Schwab’s poetry, fiction and non-fiction.

This is perhaps the most speculative enterprise to be described for because there is no such Internet meeting place for Colorado artists of every stripe, or their audiences, and no venue for young (or old) not-yet-established artists to market their wares.

Bloggers from the various arts will be paid for their contributions to the ARTS BLOG, and a one-percent-of-sales fee will be charged to artists to facilitate the online showroom they will have at their disposal.

As traffic increases on this blog and marketplace, it is anticipated that ad sales will also be possible: to music venues, to artists, to publishers, to bookstores, to galleries and other business vendors trying to reach the growing artistic community in Colorado.


Print and Internet advertising to market these three venues will be purchased once the sites are established as a viable product for readers and small business owners.

Invested capital will be used to make these purchases. Radio and other advertising also might be possible, depending on revenue streams generated by the business. Technology services also will have to be purchased to set up the various websites, directories and Wiki. Invested capital will be used for those purposes as well.

Conclusion (minus financials)
This is the legacy I hope to leave to my daughters, one of whom is a visual artist, and the second, still in college, an undecided potential aid-worker, lawyer, writer or businesswoman, with a bent toward international arenas. I have two to ten years to make my business happen. I think that’s more than possible, and an opportunity to establish two lasting institutions to serve Colorado for the foreseeable future.

(Relevant financial information will be provided to interested investors.)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Post shows its colors

The Denver Post finally shows its true colors today in an editorial calling on Colorado's two senators to vote against the interests of most of their constituents by voting against, and killing, the nation's closest attempt in its history to reform health care in America.

The Post's myopic editorial suggests that the latest negotiations over items in a bill yet to emerge from a Democratic caucus - namely a compromise with unions and an already failed attempt of one senator to gain something from the bill for his state at the expense of other states - is reason enough to kill the whole historic effort only days away from its finish line.

This is exactly what the insuance industry would like to see happen, and would validate their investments in ferocious lobbying to kill the historic movement.

Legislation is the art of compromise, and to see a compromised bill get passed to further the health of an entire nation should be no surprise to anyone.

The art of lawmaking is to create a format that benefits the most people even if measures must be tweaked to get the best results some time in the future.

The Post, like a lawmaker, should consider doing the widest possible good for its readers before bowing to the ideological and business interests that it serves by calling now for a surrender of the greater good.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hardball over health care

I come here in advance of my next intended post ( a Business Plan) to remark on the politics of Democrats trying to pass a health-care reform bill in time for the president to claim it as an accomplishment in his first State of the Union.

Hardball, to say the least.

One example: Massachusetts election officials say it might take them weeks to certify the election results of the upcoming special election to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, which the Associated Press points out could preserve for Obama the 60th vote he needsin the current Senate to pass a health-care bill without a Republican filibuster.

I read about the move in an Associated Press item packaged in the Denver Post next to a piece about Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet's protests of the closed-door negotiating between members of their own party to combine separate bills passed by the House and Senate.

The closed-door negotiations are as much an indication of the hardball politics Democratic Senate leaders are imposing on the negotiations, which include Obama at the White House.

Republicans complain that the non-traditional approach to melding the two bills harks to the smoke-filled rooms of lore, but they don't remind their listeners of similarly harsh tactics used by the Congress when Trent Lott and Dick Armey were ruling the roost.

It's true that opening the negotiations to television cameras would make make for a truer "Democratic" result. But no Republicans have indicated any willingness to buck their disciplined ranks to vote for a final bill, so crafting one without them seems the more efficient path.

Bennet rightly criticizes the lack of transparency. But I doubt it will keep him from voting for the historic bill. It should not.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bill Ritter's exit challenges Dems

I don't think Bill Ritter likes me.

I endorsed him here (November 23) almost a year before I hoped he would be re-elected governor, yet before two months have passed, he ups and quits the race.

He told us he has failed to give the proper priority to his family over the past year of worrying over that re-election, and that by dropping out, he could discount re-election politics and make the right decisions for Colorado in the last year of his term.

I know nothing of the family failures, but I agree not running frees him up politically to make some tough decisions for the general good of Colorado. But he never made very good political decisions during his term anyway. That's why he faced a very tough re-election bid. (You can read my early take on it here in ColoradoBiz.)

Still, it puzzled me when I heard and read everything said and written about Ritter's surrender to the political forces of the day. Ritter ran for the nomination of his party for governor in 2006 as a stealth candidate, someone no one expected to take the slot on the ballot, yet someone who was well respected for having done the work necessary to earn it.

At ColoradoBiz back then, I refused to endorse Ritter because I thought his campaign reflected "blue-ribbon" positions of the national Democratic Party, and not individual stances specific to Colorado. Funny, he made a joke during his bow-out press conference that his personal decision not to run was not the product of any blue-ribbon commission.

Of course not. This decision had to be individual and inevitably was specific to Colorado. But that was my problem with Ritter. To me, he seemed to speak always from a political platform that was almost alien to him. A platform never upheld by his own, strong, personal conviction.

His decision to quit, based in his concern for his family, seems to come from such strong, personal conviction. I applaud him for that.

Now Democrats face the challenge of picking a candidate who can puncture the cartoon balloons Republicans cannot help but draw around their own staid-and-failed, limited-government policies. How, for instance, can you build highways with no money? Some Republican, especially those re-endorsing TABOR, needs to answer that question.

Ironically, Democrats are going to have to use Ritter's successes to convince Colorado voters that governing and government are honorable pursuits worthy of their support.

For that reason alone, the new governor's race should be an engaging political campaign.