Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cynthia Finch=Jesus Christ

After the Knox County Commission raised questions about Community Services Director Cynthia Finch's questionable distribution of grant money to non-profit organizations that she herself has a vested interest in, Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale sent the Commission a letter defending Finch. In the letter, Ragsdale likened Finch, whose obvious conflict of interest is glaring in this case, to Jesus Christ.

“I mention these things because her success is not built on her family’s wealth or good fortune, but rather through years of hard work and dedicated community service,” Ragsdale wrote.

The mayor cited Finch’s work on various nonprofit boards, including the Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership and the Knoxville Symphony, and her status as the first known black woman to serve as a Knox County director.

In response to comments from commissioners and an unidentified columnist suggesting that Finch resign, Ragsdale referred to Matthew 27.

Although he didn’t cite a specific verse in the first gospel of the Christian New Testament, the chapter details the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ

Believe it or not, I don't doubt that Cynthia Finch may personally be a good Christian woman, and she may indeed have a heart of gold. I also don't find it surprising or even wrong that she would want non-profit agencies of which she happens to be a part to get their share of grant money that is floating around. The problem is that as Knox County Community Services Director, she is placed in a position where she was responsible for the impartial disbursement of that grant money while having ties to several groups receiving large amounts of grant money.

Ragsdale cites the reality that Ms. Finch is the first black woman to serve as a county director in the over-200-year history of the county. Does this mean that Ragsdale thinks that all of these charges are mere race-baiting? I can't speak for others, but I think Ms. Finch earned her position as Community Services Director, and not one bit of her getting where she is today was based on her race or gender. Similarly, race or gender should not be a factor is someone has a conflict of interest or engages in wrongdoing while in office. Using race as a tool to avoid having to answer the charges against her does not befit Cynthia Finch or Mike Ragsdale. Indeed, with every communication on these matters, Mike Ragsdale sounds more desperate not to have officials of his administration answer for anything-the trail, after all, ultimately leads back to him.

Meanwhile, Knox County law director John Owings says he may ask the Commission to redo the entire process of January 31, and this time perhaps citizens will be able to speak and be heard. Failure to do so could result in a jury trial against the County for the Commissioners having violated the sunshine law after the shady process at the end of January whereby term-limited County Commissioners were replaced after the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that term limits were valid in Knox County. Under the Owings proposal, the term-limited Commissioners would return to office temporarily to re-appoint their replacements.

Would Sheriff Tim Hutchison also return? How about former Knox County Clerk William Mike Padgett? Anyone want to take bets on how long it will take for the process to degenerate into a circus?



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