Tribe hits info jackpot

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Don't lament the passing of "the good ol' days" when the Coeur d'Alene Tribe handed out millions of dollars to educational interests with almost no public documentation of who got what, or why.

The Tribe announced recently that it has adopted a formal application and disbursement process. In place now is an application form that needs to be filled out by Sept. 30 for funds that will be distributed next February.

A formal process became necessary to help the Tribe prioritize and track donations. As federal and state assistance to many educational interests decreases, the need to raise money locally has increased, and the Tribe is flush with requests for help - requests that very well could exceed the $1.2 million it will give to education-related entities early next year.

Further, the Tribe acknowledges that the new way of managing and reporting donations will help the public better understand the entire process. By doing so, the Tribe will be blunting a point of criticism that arose last year when this newspaper's requests for an accounting of donations was denied by both the Tribe and the state. That unfortunate dispute is unlikely to repeat because the Tribe will now give a full accounting of the educational interests that receive money and the total amount of donations. It will be up to each recipient to declare how much it received.

Since 1992, the Tribe has been donating 5 percent of its annual gaming income as part of a compact with the state. While donating 5 percent to educational interests is mandated by the compact, it clearly is within the Tribe's mission to do so, and the Tribe wields the sole authority to determine who should receive what.

The application process takes just minutes to complete and will help the Tribe greatly in determining the worthiness of requests. For example, the Tribe has never before asked recipients how a donation was actually used. That information is part of the new process.

We encourage regional entities with an educational mission to apply for assistance from the Tribe, an act of giving back that will help many worthy individuals and enhance numerous educational activities. And we applaud the Tribe for going far beyond what it was required to report in the spirit of cooperation and better understanding.

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