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Spin Control

Thu., March 24, 2011, 1:06 p.m.

Taking the idea initiative

OLYMPIA -- Two questions for the big thinkers out there:

Do you have an idea how to improve Washington state in the future?

Do you think it would stack up so well to other peoples' ideas that it could make the top 100?

If so, a group calling itself 100 Ideas for Washington's Future has a deal for you. (And, of course, a website, because you can't do anything in 2011 without a website.)

The group is trying to get as many ideas as possible to an Advisory Board that will divvy them up, check them out and try to come up an even hundred. Those top 100 will go in sort of a greatest hits book, with details of the ideas and attribution to the person or persons who thought it up. The book will go to government officials, civic leaders and others around the state, and could wind up as legislation or administrative laws if any of them have a "Eureka!" moment while perusing the pages.

The program is the brainchild of Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens, who is getting an assist from several other elected officials, including Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane. Hope notes, however, that it's been tried successfully in Florida and Oklahoma, so they aren't coming up with this completely out of the blue.

Adults who come up with a list-making idea will have the satisfaction of seeing themselves in the book, and possible of seeing their idea turned into a law or a policy. High school or college students who come up with one would be eligible for scholarship money.

There's a few unknowns about this, Hope said this week when announcing the program. One is the size of the scholarships, which will depend on the donations. The other is some of the funding; they're looking for donors to the 501 (c) 4, that is the main organization, and the 501 (c) 3 that will hold scholarship money.

The group is still looking for people to sit on its Advisory Board that already includes some state and local politicians, along with represenatives of academia and business.

Reagan Dunn, a King County councilmember and member of the board, said the program is about representative democracy. "It's a way to directly connect citizens to their government."

While they mentioned transparency during the rollout at the Capitol Building, organizers said they won't necessarily be talking about where their money comes from, however. Hope said if someone wants to donate anonymously to the effort, or the scholarship program, theyl'll take it and not reveal the source. It's not a political organization or a campaign committee, so it's not subject to Public Disclosure Commission rules, Hope said.

And are there really 100 great ideas out there? Hope thinks so. When Gov. Chris Gregoire set up a website to ask for ideas to transform Washington, she got almost 2,000. A shortcoming for that process, he said, was that the person submitting the idea wasn't getting any credit. With this program, the top idea meisters would wind up  in the book with their name, picture and bio along with their idea.

if that's an incentive for you, check out 100 Ideas For Washington's Future.

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The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.