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Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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July 30, 2008 8:53 AM

Foward Washington exec responds

Posted by David Postman

I wrote Monday about Dino Rossi and Forward Washington, the non-profit foundation he led after losing the 2004 governor’s race. It would be fair to say that after reading Ralph Thomas’ Sunday story about Rossi’s efforts since 2004 and looking again at the Public Disclosure Commission investigation of the foundation, I found Forward Washington and its Idea Bank to be lacking in substance.

But I should have contacted Ted Dahlstrom, the executive director of the foundation. He’s always been responsive to my questions. So here, a little late, is his take on Forward Washington, both in the Rossi era and now that the group’s founder has left to run for governor.

The point of the idea bank was to provide the citizens of Washington with a chance to have their voice heard by those in Olympia. All too often, many constituents feel like they are ignored by their elected representatives and their ideas are not taken seriously.
So we went directly to the people, soliciting their thoughts on all state-related issues in our 12 Idea Bank forums. We consider the initiative to be an overwhelming success.

From the beginning, however, it was never about the Foundation. During the forums, Dino never commented on or judged the ideas. And that's why we didn't offer any analysis in the final document. The document is meant to be a tool for the legislature to use with ideas that came, unfiltered, straight from the people they represent. We only modified it for grammar and content. It was designed as a policy guide for the legislature to use, and it was never our intention to directly lobby the legislature to enact the ideas. …

The Forward Washington Foundation is a non-partisan, non-profit educational Foundation, so politics isn't our game. While Dino was an integral part of the history of the Foundation, we have moved on and expanded into other ventures. I, as Executive Director, decided that the Foundation would continue communicating to the public and weighing in on the public debate on issues it advocates, but in a different format than when Dino was President. So now the Foundation publishes a monthly newsletter on a certain topic of the day. A "monthly musing," as Ralph put it, which I think is a great way to describe it. … All the old newsletters are posted at I encourage everyone to check them out for themselves. There they can even email me with suggestions for the next newsletter, as I am always looking for new ideas to write about.

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