March 27, 2011 in City

Spin Control: It’s time to serve up that great idea of yours

By The Spokesman-Review
 

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 folks’ 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. 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 with 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 them 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 from scratch.

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

There are a few unknowns about this, Hope said last 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 setting up one nonprofit for the main organization and a separate one to 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 representatives 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, organizers said they won’t necessarily be talking about where their money comes from. Hope said if someone wants to donate anonymously to the effort, or the scholarship program, they’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, he said.

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 names, pictures and bios, along with their ideas.

Note to Pierce Co. voters: Get stamps

This may be worse than Tacoma finding out recently it fell further behind Spokane in the race for the state’s No. 2 city. With much hand-wringing over the loss of local control and treasured process, the House of Representatives approved a bill on Friday that requires all counties in the state to go to vote-by-mail.

The arguments for and against were pretty familiar. We heard them before Spokane switched away from poll-site voting in 2006. Voting by mail enhances turnout and saves money. Voting at the polls promotes a sense of community and is more likely to catch ballot shenanigans.

Poll-site voting is something for which Pierce County ranks No. 1. It is also the only one of the state’s 39 counties that still has poll-site voting. It has a slight hope of retaining that distinction because the House made a few changes in the bill and sent it back to the Senate.

Quotes of the week

“As long as the boat continues to float, I’m not sure it’s as big a priority.” – Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, on why the Senate budget, which has $120 million for new Puget Sound ferries, doesn’t have $12 million to replace the 63-year-old Keller Ferry in Eastern Washington.

“All human waste contains phosphorus.” – Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, during a debate on banning phosphorus from lawn fertilizers, including organic fertilizers. File that under GTK for good to know.

Spin Control, a weekly column by Olympia Bureau Chief Jim Camden, also appears online with daily items, reader comments, videos and a link to the 100 ideas site. It can be found at www.spokesman.com/ blogs/spincontrol.

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