Sunday, May 29, 2011

Denver mayor's race spawns a business solution

Poll results putting Michael Hancock in a 10-point lead over Chris Romer in the Denver mayor's runoff spawned a quote from a Romer supporter that suggests a national solution for excessive executive compensation.

Claire Brockbank, the Romer supporter, was quoted by the Denver Post, saying, "I don't get the sense Hancock has private-sector experience, and, to me, being mayor, that's a CEO job."

Great quote, but consider that mayoral CEOs across the country are paid considerably less than private-sector CEOs and yet often perform at a much higher level since they face electoral accountability on a regular basis.

Why not bring private-sector CEO compensation down to the level of major-city mayors across the country, based on the argument that whenever someone rises to the level of competency necessary to run a corporation in America they should be willing to serve the best interests of the company based on an altruistic instinct of public service.

After all, the efficient operations of our nation's corporations  -- who are considered the equal of individual people nowadays, at least by the U.S. Supreme Court -- benefit the common good and "promote the general welfare" of all citizens, just as the preamble to the U.S. Constitution asserts.

I watched "Too Big to Fail" and "Inside Job" last night, the two film studies of the 2008 financial crisis, and executive compensation was mentioned as an issue in both. The heads of our country's largest banks protested in both films any government attempt to limit a company's ability to pay whatever it takes to recruit the kinds of brains that got us into the financial crisis of 2008.

I say, though, at the CEO level, the individual executive is essentially doing the nation and the company a public service and should be paid as such. Lower-level execs, in order to prevent the feared brain drain, could be recruited at limitless salaries if the lower-paid CEO signs on to that strategy being in the best interests of his or her company. And the country, for that matter.

Now, to go beyond that single topic for this post, I would also like to point out to my cousin Roger Wehling that Hancock's lead -- a surprise to both of us I think -- might be a reflection of voter discontent with politicians who seem to have their success handed to them by virtue of unmatchable campaign funding and pre-politics name recognition.

Voters want today's elected office holders to accomplish through public policy what change can be interpreted from the popular support they received in their election.

For Obama, it was universal health care. For Hancock it's going to be a fair shake for all citizens, not only those with insider status or pre-existing political clout. If Hancock is elected, he'll have as difficult a time producing for his supporters as Obama had producing a public option.

Politics is no longer an easy game to play in America.

And finally, the headline in the Post that elicited from me a shout out: "Egypt opens Gaza crossing."

Hooray! Hamas has to realize now that peaceful, nonviolent political action -- which, having taken place in Egypt, has led to the opening of the crossing and will lead to the eventual dismantling of the Israeli blockade of Gaza -- is the most effective opposition to Israel they will ever be able to adopt.

Violence is for thugs. It never accomplishes any nation's ultimate, legitimate goals.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back to the Chemo Room

Results of the PET scan came in yesterday, and the cancer is still with me, growing, unfortunately, but ensuring my membership in the Chemo Room.

What can you do? You have to keep fighting! A lot of people are dying in the world today: tornadoes, suicide bombs, soldiers, tsunamis. An associate in the media industry, Chris Power Bain, the former director of communications for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, died Monday. She was 57 and had been battling lung cancer, according to today's Denver Post.

Chris was at the chamber for a time while I was at the Post and we developed a professional relationship that now is a pleasant memory. But you don't expect to read about such professionals dying at such a young age. And yet the Chemo Room teaches you it is all too true.

That's why you don't have much choice but to fight your cancer. If you don't, it takes you away.

My oncologist, Dr. Thomas Kenney, working out of Porter Hospital, is going to touch base with friends at the University of Colorado Cancer Center to determine if any clinical trials conducted there might be appropriate for my further treatment.

Otherwise I'll probably be going back on a mix of chemo called FolFox, which I really don't like. It tears you down over the long haul -- it was part of my first six-month round of chemo -- and caused neuropathy in my feet and lower legs that still bothers me today when I'm cutting the lawn or playing croquet.

I'm 64. About to enter my fifth year of fighting colorectal cancer, which means I'm so far about average at besting the odds of survival since diagnosis. About half of us make it this far, and half don't. If I make it through the fifth year, I'll be doing better than most.

And I plan to make it. One thing you find out about yourself when you are recruited into a battle for your life is that while death may be around the corner, living feels pretty good. The time you spend fighting is the time you have still to accomplish something in this world, and you keep in mind what I once wrote at ColoradoBiz: dying puts a period at the end of the sentence that is your life, so you better try your best to make what you do a good story.

That's this writer's take on it. There are millions of good stories out there to tell, and I want mine to be one of them. In the meantime, I'll try to keep telling some of the others.

One of the last things Chris Power Bain worked with me on was a chamber white paper that suggested health care for the poor, usually dispensed in hospital emergency rooms, raised the cost of health insurance because hospitals charged insured patients enough to make up for the free care they were giving away to the uninsured.

A lot of snow melt has gone under the bridges of Colorado since Chris and my discussion about such issues, and yet this country still faces the same problem, and opponents of what is called Obamacare still are trying to dismantle the only attempt this country has ever mounted to solve it.

They say chemotherapy clouds the mind, but I think mine is still sharp enough to ask: What's up with that?

It's amazing how well you can feel when cancer is growing inside you and the doctors are still trying to keep it from taking over your body. The side effects of the medicine (poisons) they give you are what put the struggle in the battle when you fight cancer.

But whiskey makes you frisky, and I'm feeling just fine.

Living, writing stories, and solving problems has been what my life in America has always been about. Lord willing, and the creeks don't rise enough to wash us away, I'll be doing that still for some time to come.

And then you can put that period at the end of this sentence.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Monetize your blog! It won't take forever

Pat Wiesner
A victory! After months and months, with the help of a friend who took a few minutes on the telephone to talk me through a computer procedure, I have finally discovered one way to monetize this blog.

Look in the upper left column and you'll see my first gold sponsor: Pat Wiesner, my old boss from ColoradoBiz, a retired small-business publisher who has an abiding interest in helping the people who worked for him become successful.                                                   Photo

He still writes a column on management in the magazine, and helping employees become successful has been one of the management principles Pat has most persistently advocated over the years. He does it again in this month's column as he finds a business application for the best dog trick he has ever seen.

He writes: "In any case, here comes the business tidbit to think about. I will never forget Bella. Everyone who wants to cut a wide path in business has to have some of that "I'll never forget" mystique. The boss you will never forget because in addition to all the other things his mind was on, he had a keen interest in the career health of all his people, and because of this he had the best people."

Pat agreed to be my first sponsor and put a check in the mail before I had even had a chance to meet with him. But that check represents the first successful attempt by me to "monetize" this product, which I have been writing for two years and represents what I call the "new journalism" of the 21st century.

My point? Another friend, Tim Correll, suggested when I figured out how to monetize this blog, I write about it so other writers and small business owners could learn from my experience. That experience has been long and hard.

Google, which hosts the blog, has an advertising program called AdSense that its bloggers are supposed to be able to hook into. I started trying to work that process in February but recently was turned down for an AdSense account because my page, the one you are reading, was not designed quite right for Google advertisers. I'm still trying though.

In the meantime, I asked participants in a recent Idea Cafe for other suggestions. Henry Dubroff, another old boss, suggested I find people and companies to sponsor the blog. Great! But I still had not figured out how to acknowledge those sponsors on this page.

John Wren, who hosts Idea Cafes at the Panera Bread store on Grant Street near the state Capitol every Friday afternoon, took ten minutes this week to talk me through finding the right widget to use on this blog to show that Pat Wiesner had become my first sponsor. Victory!

And as with any victory, there are a few lessons to be learned from the experience:

First, realize how dumb you are and ask people for the help you need. I've been described as "plodding," and praised because I keep "plugging" my way toward journalistic and other business solutions. So be it. If that's what it takes to get a story or to create a small business, I won't be afraid to admit what I don't know, and I will find the answers to my questions.

Second, this relationship thing that business gurus keep preaching can work for you when you are trying to start a business. All the people who helped me here were long-time friends and business associates who, in time, were able to answer the questions I was finally able to ask.

Third, it's sometimes amazing how long it takes to solve the simplest of problems when you don't know what you don't know.

I'm going to continue writing about what it takes to monetize a blog. It's the new journalism of the 21st century! Keep reading.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Preemptive war and other nonsense

Has former President George W. Bush's preemptive war doctrine been repealed or rescinded?

The New York Times editorialized yesterday against an expansion of the war powers of the president, a House Republican proposal the newspaper said would "authorize the military to pursue virtually anyone suspected of terrorism, anywhere on earth, from now to the end of time."

First you have to admire the Times' august tone in an era of newspaper degradation. No one in newspapers but the Times would write about all eternity with as much confidence.

But reading the editorial reminded me of a time when I stood up at a Brownstein Hyatt & Farber-hosted luncheon and asked now retiring PBS newsman Jim Lehrer if the Bush doctrine could be repealed. Lehrer gave a not-so-clear answer, but at the time anyone who questioned Bush was suspect of less-than-quality patriotism, so you could expect obfuscation at almost any turn.

The Republican effort to expand the president's war powers, however, shows that neo-con forces in government are still alive and kicking. No matter they cost us a war in Iraq that was unneccessary, a trillion dollars, and the lives of 4,000 soldiers. WMD? What WMD?

The USA has always had a number of nationalist/colonialist/expansionists within the reaches of power in Washington D.C., but history has shown every time they exert power in behalf of their philosophy, the nation and its people end up losers.

Peace is a better pursuit. Peace leads to prosperity, and prosperity is our best defense against our enemies. No one repeals a president's foreign-policy doctrine, but preemptive war was a preemptive loser. Better we battle enemies we see than those we imagine.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Colontown, a community of cancer survivors

I'm out of the chemo room temporarily, and I've stepped from it into an online community where I can talk comfortably about my colorectal cancer.

It's called Colontown USA, a kind of gated community on Facebook.

You can only get into Colontown through Mayor Pro Tem Erika Hanson Brown, a Colorado woman who started the closed Facebook group just two months ago. She already has registered 190 Colonists, citizen survivors of a disease no one really likes to talk about.

My sister can tell you about that. Over the last four years while fighting my cancer, I often got tired of talking about it with her and told her so. It's not a pretty disease. The bathroom becomes the most important room in the house.

So not only do you not feel like talking about it, you don't, and that leaves you pretty much alone (unless you are hounded by a great sister).

Hanson Brown felt the same loneliness while battling her disease. She has survived seven years now, and has staked out Colontown to help others avoid a similar lonely road.

Colontown residents have posted 600 messages to each other over the first two months. Hanson Brown's business card calls the ongoing discussion "colorectal cancer survivors sharing their experience, strength and hope." I can testify that sharing your problems with others offers great comfort when you realize the others have spent as much time in the bathroom as you have.

You are not alone.

On Tuesday, very early in the morning, I spoke to about fifteen doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who are members of the Colorado Cancer Coalition's Colorectal Task Force. For months, Hanson Brown has worked to have the task force, which mostly has promoted colon-cancer prevention and screening, to turn its collective eye toward survivors like herself -- and me.

She wants people without the cancer, professionals involved in treatment as well as caregivers and family members of patients, to enroll in Colontown and join the discussion. She'll call them Colonials, and she knows additional voices will only add to the town's collective wisdom.

But Colonials should be prepared. Town residents talk candidly about the side effects of chemotherapy treatments; about clinical studies they are enrolled in to test new drugs, what the new drugs do to their bodies, and whether they get results; about what a drag it is to miss events with family and friends because you are afraid to be far from the most important room in the house; and about the emotional release that is granted by the ability to vent about all of it.
Colontown residents so far have been mostly survivors from across the country (Erika says I am the only other Colonist from Colorado), but there is plenty of room for others to settle in our group.

Andi Dwyer, co-chair of the Colorectal Task Force, is compiling a resource guide for patients, survivors and caregivers dealing with the disease. Erika and I, and four other Colonists who joined the Tuesday task force meeting on the phone, were there to pitch Colontown as a valuable new resource.

Contact Dwyer through the Colorado Cancer Coalition. The coalition enjoys a national reputation for its work, and it already has compiled a resource guide for those working with or contending with breast cancer.

No one in Colorado has to fight cancer alone. Just find the kind of townsmen and townswomen who can help.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bloggers unite! Repeal the tax!

This is a call to action to all bloggers in the state.

Jeannine Crooks, a co-organizer of Front Range Bloggers, needs you to call or e-mail a state senator today to ask them to call up House Bill 1318 for a Senate committee hearing so the measure can be approved and sent to the governor by the end of the day tomorrow, the last day of the legislature.

HB 1318 is a repeal of legislation that resulted in 4,000 Colorado bloggers being dropped from "affiliate" programs by online merchants like Amazon, Hershey and Crayola, to name just a few.

If you think back, you'll remember that then Gov. Bill Ritter and the Democratic legislature, desperate for money to balance the state budget, passed a law that required online merchants to charge Colorado customers state sales tax. Amazon was so opposed to the law that it "fired" all its affiliates, who are online bloggers and website operators who link their customers to larger companies with different products to sell. The affiliates are paid for every click on a link to a larger seller.

"For somebody who is trying to monetize their website," said Crooks, the repeal of the tax law is the biggest issue to arise during the current legislature. "The current bill prevents you from doing that," she added.

The House passed the repeal last week, but the Senate has only the rest of today to have it considered by a committee and passed before adjournment tomorrow. The law passed last year was promoted as a way to raise $5 million in new revenue, but in the year since it was passed only about $20,000 has been collected.

Crooks said Colorado online operators have lost "several millions of dollars in sales that didn't occur" because the law caused so many major retailers to drop Colorado from their affiliate programs.

Here's a list of senators and their e-mails who Crooks said can do something about it. Give them a ping.

Sen. Irene Aguilar - 303-866-4852 -

Sen. Bob Bacon - 303-866-4841 -

Sen. Betty Boyd - 303-866-4857 -

Sen. Morgan Carroll - 303-866-4879 -

Sen. Joyce Foster - 303-866-4875 -

Sen. Angela Giron - 303-866-4877 -

Sen. Lucia Guzman - 303-866-4862 -

Sen. Rollie Heath - 303-866-4872 -

Sen. Mary Hodge - 303-866-4855 -

Sen. Evie Hudak - 303-866-4840 -

Sen. Cheri Jahn - 303-866-4856 -

Sen. Michael Johnston - 303-866-4864 -

Sen. John Morse - 303-866-6364 -

Sen. Linda Newell - 303-866-4846 -

Sen. Jeanne Nicholson - 303-866-4873 -

Sen. Gail Schwartz - 303-866-4872 -

Sen. Brandon Shaffer - 303-866-5291 -

Sen. Pat Steadman - 303-866-4861 -

Sen. Lois Tochtrop - 303-866-4863 -

Sen. Suzanne Williams - 303-866-3432 -

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Where were you when ...?

Where were you when you heard Osama bin Laden was dead?

I was dancing a jig in front of my TV. And couldn't help but imagine the short lecture Allah was delivering to Osama standing in judgment before the throne:

"No, dude! You got it all wrong! You been out there killing people.
"I said save your brother, not kill your brother!
"So off with you. Go to hell.
"No, no virgins for you.
"What were you thinking?"

And is it right to dance on the grave of your dead enemy?
Willy Yeats, in his poem "Tom O'Roughley," said this:

"And if my dearest friend were dead
"I'd dance a measure on his grave."

So what's good for a friend, must not be too bad for an enemy. Yeats also wrote:

"An aimless joy is a pure joy
Or so did Tom O'Roughley say
'And wisdom is a butterfly
And not a gloomy bird of prey."

Think about that as you dance your jig of joy.
The world is a better place today.