Cynthia Finch defends actions, alleges racism

Knox County Community Services Director Cynthia Finch
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Knox County (WVLT) Add claims and denials of racism to the conflict and tension between Knox County commissioners, and the Mayors office.

Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd reports the claims come out of questions about how the mayor's office has handed out millions of your tax dollars in federal, state and county grants.

The racism claim first came this morning, on radio, with the mayor's community services director insisting she decided to give up her power overseeing grants, so she could keep volunteering with some of the groups getting the money.

Community Services Director Cynthia Finch walks into this month's agenda' meeting, determined, she says, Knox County County Commissioners hear that all they've heard or read about her personal or family connections to non-profit getting grant money, isn't the whole story.

"I want to say to you right this minute that this information has been disclosed to you, over and over again."

As to HUD's review, which found a direct conflict in a 33, 000 grant awarded for child services, whose work later was sub-contracted to a corporation her sister headed?

"I did not see that freight train coming, because of the way that information was presented to me, I get a brief from my staff. Now we recognize that there was a step which we should have put in,
which we didn't."

Finch, and Community Development Overseer Eric Hoagland tell Commissioners that county money can replace some of the federal
awards that HUD dis-allowed and that citizens panels now will decide
who gets what for what.

But again she alleges that some criticism, "does reek with the potential of racial and sexual overtones."

Knox County Commissioner Greg "Lumpy" Lambert says, "do you believe that this commission, myself, anybody on it is motivated racially? I feel that this commission could do a lot better. I'm being called a racist and I'm not gonna tolerate it."

The verbal volleyball prompts Commissioner Lambert to try to
show Finch pictures of last summer's white supremacist rally, proof he says that real racism is far different from what she's claiming.

Finch declines his offer.

But another Commissioner wonders whether it's time she consider quitting.

R. Larry Smith says, "she is still a young lady and if I were looking to employ her somewhere, and saw what was coming up that would put a lot of strain on her job future."

Finch says, "I plan to stay, I have a lot to offer this community."

Finch says she leave when Mayor Mike Ragsdale does.

His term's end in 2011.

HUD's still questioning another 800, 000 in grants.

It's report probably won't be ready when county commission meets later this month.

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