Wed
Jul 25 2007
08:08 am
By: R. Neal

What do Renee Kesler, Requitta Bone, and Cynthia Finch all have in common? They are all successful black women, and at some time have all been under intense scrutiny with regard to local government shenanigans, resulting in two of them leaving their posts and a third most likely updating her resume.

How is it that the press brings out the torches and pitchforks for these women, but can't seem to get the goods on any Rich White Guys in the Good Old Boys Club (with the possible exception of Werner, who Ragsdale threw under the bus himself)?

Not that anyone should get a free pass because of their race, but might it have something to do with who has the power and who is feeding the media their info and where they would rather divert attention?

UPDATE: Margie Loyd, another successful black woman, has resigned.

CBT's picture

Conduct, Character

Maybe we should let the conduct and character determine the path of the investigation, not skin color. Seems like a famous person once made a similar suggestion.

In the present scandal, we've had two resign, Werner (white) and Bone (black). The facts indicate Finch should be scrutinized. If you have information that some so-called Rich White Guys or Good Ole Boys have been charging up their p-card or misusing taxpayer dollars, bring it on. Otherwise, this just changes the subject.

p.s. Don't give me 'so and so' got a tax credit, that's a waste of tax money, or some other such stuff. Maybe that's proper for discussion, but not as part of the investigation into county p-cards and travel.

Joe Taylor's picture

P-Cards Spending ETC

Wrong is wrong no matter what color, size, shape or form...

my problem with the whole investigation is every time they turn the page it is a whole new mess... and Ragsdale can say all day long that he is not concern... but the end results do not justify the means by which they accomplish it...

Ragsdale should be concern with me "the voter/tax payer" as I am very concerned with what appears to be a life of excess for the county's top officials using tax payer dollars...

Ennui's picture

I don't see any racial

I don't see any racial element here from the reporting side really. Love to see anyone of any color that has been abusing power get their malfeasance brought to light.

R. Neal's picture

I don't see any racial

I don't see any racial element here from the reporting side

I don't either, and I'm not suggesting that. I'm just wondering where they are getting their info and who is feeding it to them and why, and why the biggest front page targets seem to be successful black women. Who controls the flow of information?

As I said, races doesn't give anybody a free pass. So being white shouldn't get you a pass, either. Even if you control the flow of information.

Anyway, good discussion so far. It was something I thought might be a question on some people's minds and one that needs asking.

Carole Borges's picture

Thanks for bringing this up...

I also believe anyone who is guilty regardless of color should be held accountable. The fact that the spotlight hit these women first is interesting though. Finch will have her day to explain her side.

All the facts aren't in yet, but any suggestion she might not be guilty is already being met with scorn or simply dismissed. Also you don't have to be the brightest bulb in the box to suspect this p-card scandal will go deeper and cross any color lines.

I guess the test is this--

1. When you read the reports about these black women community activists, do you immediately feel a little surge of excitement (almost glee) rush through your body?

2. Do you feel really, really angry? More angry than you will have felt toward any other politician suspected of these misdeeds?

3. Do you immediately feel hostile toward these women or do you hestitate to jump to conclusions because of what they have achieved and the good work they have done for our community?

R. Neal's picture

Excellent questions, Carole.

Excellent questions, Carole.

mbradley's picture

Lovin' the Internet

A few days ago when the sorority story broke, I believe I remember seeing someone post a comment related to this latest development on the WBIR message board. You’ve got to love the internet…

Ennui's picture

While on this topic, I know

While on this topic, I know that many of us take issue with vague and somewhat racist descriptions of black males in general crime reporting and bulletins. It appears from all media accounts that I have read or heard that this sorority business seems to be insular at best, cronyism at worst. Since the sorority is primarily of color, can the news story be told truthfully and even handedly without being perceived as being unfair? In Finch and Bones cases it seems necessary to bring up their membership and cozy supervisor-employee relationship so that the taxpayer has the full story.

bizgrrl's picture

Similar to the Facing South

Similar to the Facing South post, "White male vs. black female "tirades" on Capitol Hill"

Ennui's picture

Ragsdale appears to have

Ragsdale appears to have drawn a line in the sand though with Finch. He defended her to a level that he did not defend with Werner, certainly not with Bone.

Curious also is the transfer of Margie Loyd to Community Services. I would think that would be a PR gaffe.

Knoxquerious's picture

Rest assured, shady spending

Rest assured, shady spending is not limited to African American women in Knox County. A THOUROUGH, NON-BIASED audit of the entire county will bring to light questionable transactions of Rich White Guys in the Good Old Boys Club. When the time comes, will the media be so quick to round up the posse? I do believe we have yet to hit the crescendo of the feces throwing round here. KN$ is loving the attention and local news outlets can’t seem to get enough of it.

CBT's picture

I find it hard to believe

I find it hard to believe that the KNS, WBIR and other media will allow race to play any role in reporting these stories. It appears the time has come that major local media, notably the KNS, have stopped protecting the East Wing of the 6th Floor, as they have in prior scandals.

But, are KNS reporters capable of investigating these matters? Case in point, how in the world does the County Mayor's Chief of Staff illegally (it appears) release confidential personnel information on former Sheriff Tim Hutchison to lawyer Herb Moncier and it never even warrants a mention? I mean, this appears to be illegal conduct, which one would expect to see on page one, above the fold. Maybe the KNS staff was too busy with the fluff piece on the 'softer side of Herb'.

Kudos to Sandra Clark for getting the scoop. I guess folks in the little office out in Halls can get the job done while those in million dollar buildings are left scratching their...uh...heads.

R. Neal's picture

CBT, thus, again the

CBT, thus, again the question, who is feeding them the info, and why? And why only on certain people?

R. Neal's picture

And another question. Even

And another question. Even when they stumble across some info on Rich White Guys, lately it doesn't seem to go anywhere, as you note. Why is that?

Ennui's picture

If anything I would say

If anything I would say 'rich' is the keyword here rather than color. I'm automatically inclined to believe any lenient treatment by the KNS or say WBIR is limited to the folks in the Mike Mafia. Ragsdale, Arms, Edwards et all. Jaded I know.

Sandra Clark's picture

who's feeding whom?

CBT, thus, again the question, who is feeding them the info, and why? And why only on certain people?

Randy and all: I believe the KNS reporters and surely Kay Watson at WBIR-TV dug out the Finch story on their own. The information is readily available to anyone who connects the dots.

As for the Shopper's Mike Arms story, well, I hate to give away trade secrets, but here goes. ... There's this list of folks I contact every Friday to see what's going on. ...

As mad as Hutchison and his friends were, the Arms misconduct was easy to find. The problem was getting the quotes from folks who really did not want to talk. For instance, I got an e-mail from Arms himself at 7/22/2007 10:19:30 P.M. EDT. He said he had been very busy but was not ignoring me.

Had Arms responded on Friday, we would have had a better and more balanced story.

And there's an element of pride in the news-gathering business. I won't run a rehash of their stuff and they won't run a rehash of mine. When Tim files suit -- or whatever he's going to do -- the KNS will have the Arms story.

You make it seem as if we're all a mindless bunch of ninnies who sit and wait for someone to toss us a bone. -- s.

Average Guy's picture

Performance

and why the biggest front page targets seem to be successful black women.

How do you determine success? Is it by the job you have or how you perform in that job?

R. Neal's picture

In addition to Sandra's

In addition to Sandra's comment above, someone from WBIR e-mails to say:

In response to your question today, no one is feeding us any info. We have a producer and reporter spending days at a time painstakingly digging thru every available spending record for the mayor's top staff. When patterns emerge or questiosn arise based on these records, we dig further.

The fact that Requitta Bone was Cynthia Finch's assistant meant Finch deserved a closer look.

Joe Taylor's picture

RACE??

Let's remember who order 4 Lobster at Regas it was not the lady allergic to shell fish...

Rachel's picture

I don't know much about

I don't know much about Cynthia Finch and I know nothing about Requitta Bone. But I know enough about the Renee Kesler mess to say that the only thing race had to do with it was that maybe it kept her from being fired sooner.

By all accounts she was an incompetent, abusive manager - in over her head and trying to bully her way through it.

The Mayor should never have hired her in the first place. That certainly would have been best for his administration, but also for her.

KC's picture

If anything the media seems a little hesitant

If I remember correctly when the travel funds story broke, Ms. Finch was pretty much praised by the county commisioner who brought the issue of improper charges up at the commission meeting.

As far as the KNS and other media outlets in town, they seem to be holding back a little too much. At one time I read that Ms. Bone had run up some $20,000 of largely undocumented charges on her p-card.

Later I read where she paid back about three grand and resigned. Did I miss a story somewhere? If I didn't, what about the other $17,000?

I don't think that the news stories about these women really point to anything other than these women were and are near the top of the administration. Sure, some, on both sides, will make it racial, but I really think it has to do with the overall environment in county government.

CBT's picture

Even when they stumble

Even when they stumble across some info on Rich White Guys, lately it doesn't seem to go anywhere,

Examples of RWG's in the p-card, travel scandal who have been given a pass?

If not related to p-cards and travel, post another thread with names and examples of RWG's avoiding scrutiny.

You make it seem as if we're all a mindless bunch of ninnies who sit and wait for someone to toss us a bone. -- s.

I assume this was directed at Randy. This is my point. The KNS (not the Shopper) too often seems to fall into this category, given in this case the story could be had. I'm sure it's not always as it seems. Maybe there wasn't enough info. to satisfy the higher-ups at the KNS. But, in the end, a major story goes unreported in the daily paper.

Ennui's picture

Sentinel is reporting now

Sentinel is reporting now that Margie Loyd is going on a medical leave of absence.

Also mentions her salary is 51k. That burns me up a little more now. Maxed credit cards? Getting the county to temporarily sport her cruise? That's a good salary for an executive assistant.

KC's picture

Also mentions her salary is 51k.

That's a good salary for an executive assistant.

That's a good salary for anybody.

Carole Borges's picture

I have to agree with Ragsdale...

I know this will be a very unpopular opinion, but I think the Finch thing is a bit overblown.

Apparently, she combined time researching possible projects and networking with other organizations (that might help the city) on trips planned to coincide with her sorority conventions. Laugh all you want about a library with an African village, but diversity is an important aspect of any city. So is the wooing of conventions.

I do think Finch's salary sounds awfully high, but it's probably in keeping with the others. They all ought to make less as far as I'm concerned.

Minority and women's health is a national priority and Finch and the African American sororities are leaders in this area. Their work helps prevent expenses the County might incur and IS incurring due to health costs. AKA also works to help young mothers give their children a healthy start. Thus, AKA is not totally unrelated to County business.

From Wikipedia: "The sorority serves all mankind through a nucleus of more than 200,000 women in over 950 chapters. Alpha Kappa Alpha women can be found on every continent in the world. Alpha Kappa Alpha has responded to the world’s increasing complexity and continues to empower communities through service initiatives and progressive programs which have a direct impact for the African-American community."

I wonder how many business people do the same thing--they probably even plan research trips that coincide with their personal interests like family reunions or conventions or events that relate to things they are interested in. Her sorority involvement is not totally personal, it's also a way to learn more about health and women's issues around the world. The fact that she was once the head of AKA shouldn't really matter, if they aren't benefiting financially from her connection to them. If Knoxville is benefiting from a connection to them then that's great.

I just don't see this is as such an awful thing. If she charged the County for any personal things or perks for her family members or recreational activities that's a different story, but the sorority thing alone seems a bit of a stretch to me. Not something she should have to pay back or get fired for.

Are they now going to examine exactly what commisioners did 24-7 on each their trips? If they do chances are some of them did something less worthwhile than Finch's attending the AKA conventions.

Ennui's picture

Overblown? Maybe if it was

Overblown? Maybe if it was an isolated incident in this administration. However it seems par for the course. The mayor refusing comment the other day about whether Bone's expenses were sorority related only seeks to raise more eyebrows.

jthompson's picture

Ethics

Since you can still become upset about the ethics of politicians, I should move to Tennessee. Down here we think candidates are simply signing up for a slice of the pie.

CBT's picture

Thus, AKA is not totally

Thus, AKA is not totally unrelated to County business.

I'm sure AKA does good work. But, if Finch's trips were partly to develop the AKA connection, why is that not mentioned anywhere in her travel records? Why does it give the appearance of being hidden? As others point out, it's also part of numerous other questions along these same lines.

Bbeanster's picture

Sorry, Carole, but I would

Sorry, Carole, but I would be unspeakably outraged if some white sorority chick got caught going to Tri Delt doings on the taxpayers' dime, and I don't know why Finch's race should have any effect on my reaction. It's still sponach and I still say the hell with it.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

For now, I'm with Carole

Until more is known, I'm leaning toward Carole's read, too.

Provided Finch did not negatively impact her ability to do the county's work at her destination by scheduling her trip around this or any personal interest she had in visiting the destination, I have no problem with her coordinating the two "missions."

I don't care, either, if that second "mission" benefited the county in any way, provided that the county wasn't somehow shortchanged by her choice of travel date/duration.

Of course, someone commented the other day that a 4-day trip Finch made to Buffalo included only two hours of county business touring a Buffalo library. If that comment was correct, too much of that particular trip was spent on personal pursuits at the county's expense. A reprimand and repayment of costs not the county's, at the least, would be in order.

It seems to me that we should reserve judgment until questions of this sort are answered, then consider each issue on its own merits (or lack thereof).

Carole Borges's picture

If some white sorority chick did the same thing

it would be the same for me. This is not about race, though I know from experience it's very hard for some people to seperate their feelings about things like this. The old-- "They are all a bunch of ignorant, immoral freeloaders" is so imbedded in some minds, it makes it hard for people to tnink straight. The belittling of these woman personally--their work talents, what they do, and their worth to the County seems like cheap shots to me. The sorority is not a gin guzzling, pom pom type organization. It deserves to be seen as an important helper in the minority health community.

Ennui's picture

Let me ask this then, how

Let me ask this then, how much equity does that conference she supposedly brought here(and I don't buy that for a minute) carry? That conference was in 2005, so if she is still mixing business with pleasure for her sorority in say 2008 or 2009, is that too much?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Who got lion's share of Finch's time and energy?

Not sure if you're speaking to me or Carole, Ennui...

As for me, the secondary purpose for Finch's choice of travel date isn't even relevant.

I'd like to know more about how her time and effort was spent on the trip and whether the county's purposes received the major portion of her time. That's all.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Not applicable

"Executive assistants" can start at about $8.50 per hour.

Cynthia Finch's job is not of an $8.50-per-hour level of responsibility.

Joe Taylor's picture

Sorority Convention

Lets not forget the AKA Sorority Convention was 21/2 years ago...

So what has she brought to Knoxville since then... seems like a lot of travel with no new convention business...

By the way... since when was Ms. Finch's job description including courting conventions... I thought that was what the Convention and Visitors folks did (but not very well I might add)

Sibyl's picture

51K for an executive assistant

My department just hired two law librarians (requiring both juris doctor and master of library science degrees) for just a shade over that salary. "Executive assistants" can start at about $8.50 per hour. And we work for the government. Plus, we do crazy things like advertising positions, having stated job requirements, and hiring only people who meet those requirements.

Ennui's picture

Tamara Sybil was referring

Tamara,

Sybil was referring to Margie Loyd's stated salary of 51,000 as an executive assistant. That's pretty steep for someone who can't keep their credit cards in order and feels it necessary to get the county to loan her the cash for a trip.(In my family we don't take vacations while the cards are maxed!)

Regarding travel dates, are we on the same page here? My point is that I can't bill my travel costs or other such expenses to my employer here in 07 for something I did wayback when. It seems fishy that the spin coming from the 6th floor is that we should continue to front these sorority trips with 'results' that are nebulous and vague in nature.

Once again, if this wasn't already an established pattern of crap from this administration I might agree that the coverage is overblown. But Requitta Bone(also AKA) and Ms Finch both have poorly recorded trip logs and receipts. Too late to cry 'overblown' when it is the 4th or 5th scandal that's come to light.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

So much unknown...

"Sybil was referring to Margie Loyd's stated salary of 51,000 as an executive assistant."

Oops. Sorry, Sybil--I was hurrying out the door to go pick up my daughter.

I can't judge Lloyd's salary because I know nothing about her job's responsibilities or educational/vocational requirements...

As for her charging a cruise on her p-card, I understood that she asked *someone's* permission, but I never did understand who told her it was OK or why the matter didn't come to light back in November, 2006, when she repaid the charge. I feel there's more to that story than has been yet reported...

"Regarding travel dates, are we on the same page here? My point is that I can't bill my travel costs or other such expenses to my employer here in 07 for something I did wayback when."

I see what you mean, but I don't know enough about this situation, either.

Did Finch perform other county-related work besides courting an AKA convention on this/these prior trips? In what volume and to what end(s)? Is recruitment of events like the AKA convention part of her job description? If so, how big a part of her job is that kind of activity? How much does the county pay, annually, on costs related to this kind of activity relative to the return garnered in convention/tourism dollars gained?

I just don't know any of these things...

mbradley's picture

The News Sentinel is on a

The News Sentinel is on a roll...

Link

“My staff does all the legwork,” she said. “I do all the public relations.”

StaceyDiamond's picture

plane ticket

If Cynthia is flying on sorority duties, especially if she is a leader, it seems to me the sorority might pay for her plane tickets.

Bbeanster's picture

Jeeze, I cannot believe what

Jeeze, I cannot believe what I'm reading here. It is beyond ridiculous to suggest that the taxpayers of Knox County should be happy to be footing the bill for any government employee's personal travel, no matter how worthy that employee might deem those activities.

Those cursory visits to libraries in places where Finch's sorority happened to be convening just do not pass any kind of smell test. And furthermore, Cynthia Finch's job is NOT to run the library -- we pay Larry Frank to do that. NOR the health department -- we pay Mark Jones to do that. NOR recruit conventions to come to Knoxville -- we pay Gloria Ray to do that.

I have far more sympathy for Margie Lloyd, who has been thrown under the bus, than I do for FInch.

Defenders of Cynthia Finch better fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy, embarrassing ride.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Dunno if Finch is guilty, but I'm not

My comments are just on how many unanswered questions are left after the news coverage of the last two days, Betty. Can you share any further specifics re: my questions above?

Good grief, I still have questions on the travel pay issue of what, three, four weeks ago? I spoke with Lumpy just the other day and asked him point-blank whether those top execs were paying gas/oil change/tires/maintenance and repairs costs (on vehicles not their own) from their own pockets, or whether they were remitting receipts for reimbursement, over and above their travel allowances. He said "Well, I thought they were turning in receipts..."

He THOUGHT they were??? Isn't that the very first question to be answered??? Like, three or four weeks ago???

Make no mistake about my comments: Given the complete dearth of hard information in several of these questions, I'm not content to defend or accuse anybody.

CBT's picture

The sorority is not a gin

The sorority is not a gin guzzling, pom pom type organization.

So, do the Chi Omegas, Tri-Delts, etc., etc. have to come in here and prove they don't meet this definition. Lots of sororities do good works. I am glad to assume AKA does good work. But, does that mean Knox County taxpayers need to fund sorority alumni trips to national meetings? Was there really any county business purpose? It's not a question of whether AKA does good work. It's also not a question of the race of the people involved. Please note, the only senior staff member who's been asked to resign is a white male.

CBT's picture

Defenders of Cynthia Finch

Defenders of Cynthia Finch better fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy, embarrassing ride.

Based on a couple of phone calls I got today, Bean is on target.

cafkia's picture

speaking of unpopular opinions

It looks like Icarus all over again.

These ladies appear to me to have made the mistake of jumping into the republican way of doing things without the foundation that "other"(wink wink) republicans have. Things are not equal in the United States and things are not equal in Knoxville. The social support structure that would allow "others" to do these things unnoticed, simply isn't there for Blacks. Somebody forgot that. That doesn't make them guilty or innocent. It simply means that they will get the scrutiny from everyone except possibly their support group, and that simply isn't the folks with the power. In the old days, it was told to Blacks seen as having the potential for success, that they would have to be twice as good and absolutely spotless in the way they did business because they would be looked at ten times as hard.

It is still true. It looks like Finch et al forgot that.

CAFKIA

----------------------------------------------------------- 

It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.
  - William G. McAdoo

CBT's picture

From Scott Barker's story

From Scott Barker's story posted in today's KNS online...

Headline:

County Director’s Office Oversees Sister’s Nonprofit Grant

From the story:

Finch did not indicate she was related to Collins during an interview on Tuesday. When asked by a reporter Tuesday evening how to reach Collins, whose number isn’t listed, Finch said she didn’t know.

County records show TennCorp will receive a $20,000 grant from the Community Services Department in fiscal year 2008. The organization also will receive a $75,000 state grant overseen by Finch’s office.

So, Finch knows how to get $95,000 in grant money to her sister's company (and the one Finch herself previously worked for, right?), but doesn't know how to contact her?

This is getting flat-out comical...if it wasn't our government we're talking about.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Where's the beef?

Re, Collins and TennCorp:

Today's N-S says that the mayor makes recommendations as to who receives grants and the commission approves or denies them. It didn't appear to me that Finch had any role in making grant decisions. Does she?

This updated N-S story says that Finch disclosed her familial relationship with Collins to Ragsdale in 2002. Was she required to do so with each subsequent grant application TennCorp filed? Was she required to do so for Commission? Did she?

And, bottom-line, does the Ethics Policy preclude Finch's sister from applying for or receiving a county grant?

One more time, N-S, where's the beef???

Joe Taylor's picture

Sorority Convention & Travel

As the husband to sorority girl who holds a national office in her sorority and who travels to her sorority annual conventions and other meeting through the year...

I can for a fact state that the sorority does reimburse my wife's travel expenses to travel to the meetings/conventions in her official capacity...

The question now for Ms. Finch is she submitting travel expenses to both Knox County and to her sorority???

Think on this one want ya...

R. Neal's picture

Whatever happened to

Whatever happened to this:

(link...)

Not saying two wrongs make a right or that Finch doesn't deserve the scrutiny and whatever else happens if she's in the wrong, but man, the media is sure piling on this TennCorps deal while the other thing just sort of faded away.

cafkia's picture

well, ya see

It would appear that you may have found a little demonstration of that social support group of which I spoke.

CAFKIA

----------------------------------------------------------- 

It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.
  - William G. McAdoo

R. Neal's picture

It would appear that you may

It would appear that you may have found a little demonstration of that social support group of which I spoke.

Another demonstration would seem to be every County Commission vote on any County budget matter, seeing as how half of them work for the County or have relatives who do.

rikki's picture

parsimony

that social support group of which I spoke.

Are you talking about the kind of support group that so overwhelms a candidate with money that no one dares to run against him for the highest office in the county?

It seems to me that what is not getting talked about while the focus stays on black women is not so much rich white guys, but Republicans. Why isn't there more talk about how utterly symptomatic of Republicans this sort of well connected incompetence has become? With endless scandals characterizing Republican performance in both the national and county governments, why is there not more talk about the party that ties all this together?

At the county level it is developers getting all the sewer lines and rezonings their hearts desire. At the national level it is the superwealthy and the war profiteers getting all the breaks they can dream up, and in both cases it is Republicans shoveling out the taxpayer dollars.

The only thing the apparent Republican vs. Republican nature of the county crisis proves is that Republicans will point the finger any-damn where to avoid personal responsibility. To Ragsdale's credit, he is doing a much better job taking responsibility and answering questions than his commission peers and his federal counterparts.

At the end of the day, though, Republicans have profoundly screwed the United States of America, and I haven't heard anywhere near enough sincere apologies and pledges to try harder in the future.

Joe Taylor's picture

John Murphy - FOM "Friend of Mike"

John Murphy is a friend of Mike Ragsdale and I believe that when the media really starts to smell the blood in the water... the whole house of cards will come crumbling down...

It appears from sitting on the sidelines and watching that the employees have learned from the top and when the media finally stars connecting the dots the Mike's will fall very hard...

The sad part of this is how we look to the rest of the state... do you think we can recruit and bring real jobs and build new schools and move our county forward (as ragsdale says) when they are spending all time on damage control...

CBT's picture

Tamara, C'mon now. It's

Tamara,

C'mon now. It's Finch's department who administers these community grants. You think Ragsdale comes up with them on his own and presents them to Commission? Finch knew she was getting $20,000 (really $95,000) to her sister. I don't know if Ragsdale knew or not. I guess he did since his office says the relationship was disclosed.

As for the $75,000 to Finch's sister from the state, isn't it Finch's office who requests (and recommends) the grant? It says in the story that Finch's office administers the $75,000, meaning they are supposed to oversee it and make sure it's used properly, right?

Maybe this non-profit does some good. But, take a look. According to the most recent information, at least 50% of the revenue of the non-profit goes to salaries (of more than Finch's sister?). No private donor would give to a non-profit where administrative expense was eating up 50% of the contributions.

The question here is who knew that these grants were basically giving Finch's sister a job and paying her (and others?) salary? Did Finch know it? Ragsdale? Others? Was it disclosed to Commission when presented? Was it just secret 'free' money to support a relative of a person who can get the money.

I'm sorry, but Finch claiming she doesn't know how a reporter can get hold of the director of the grant recipient and that person turning out to be her sister (which she also didn't mention in the interview with a reporter) is beyond the pale and makes the whole thing smell. Why hide stuff if there's no reason to hide it? Easy. They wanted to keep it hidden. Maybe Finch thought it would be a non-story and no one would look further.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

How little information do you need?

Yes, it is clear that Finch knew she was applying for a $20K county grant and a $75K state grant on behalf of a nonprofit run by her sister. Yes, it is clear that Ragsdale knew that, too. It is also clear that the disclosure Finch made to Ragsdale in 2002 was *not* required until this calendar year, after commission adopted the Ethics Policy.

In the matter of the grant application/approval, was the most recent grant extended to TennCorp made after the Ethics Policy was adopted? We are not told. If it was, does the Policy impose on Finch an obligation to make an additional disclosure, in writing, in presumably recommending to Ragsdale that the grant be funded? We are not told. Does the Policy impose on either Finch or Ragsdale an obligation to make that same disclosure to Commission? We are not told. Does the Policy perhaps preclude TennCorp from applying for/receiving the grant? We are not told.

Issues of disclosure aside, what criteria are reviewed, by Finch, by Ragsdale, or by Commission, in evaluating a grant application of this sort? We are not told.

In the matter of Finch's oversight of grant monies, does the Policy again require some disclosure on her part, or does it perhaps preclude her from overseeing this particular grant? We are not told.

Issues of disclosure at this juncture aside, what criteria are applied in overseeing disbursement of grant funds? We are not told. Is this salary expense for more than one employee, and if so, is the total expense reasonable for a service-oriented nonprofit delivering consultative and referral services? We are not told. Are these so-called "occupancy costs" perhaps leasehold improvments, rather than rent payments? We are not told.

Yes, I'll grant you that we need to revise our Ethics Policy to better direct county employees in all these matters.

Meanwhile, I DON'T KNOW IF FINCH IS RIGHT OR WRONG, but in order to decide, I certainly need more information than I've been given thus far. How little information do you need?

R. Neal's picture

We are not told. You are

We are not told.

You are told everything you need to know. Move along, now. :)

Bbeanster's picture

Tamara, you sound like

Tamara, you sound like Finch's lawyer.

It's not at all clear to me that Ragsdale knew of this relationship when the grant was awarded. What proof do we have of that, beyond his unsubstantiated claim? He appears to have decided to live and die with Cynthia Finch.

And how the hell can Ragsdale accuse *anyone* of nepotism or cronyism if he condones this kind of practice in his own department? Do you consider this nepotism?

There's more to this story coming, and I don't just mean her back taxes -- which is a pretty buggerish story in itself.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Spill the beans!

Thanks--I always wanted to be a lawyer.

But what advantage does Ragsdale gain in claiming he knew of the Finch/Collier relationship if he didn't? Are you suggesting that he is just trying to save face?

As to whether I consider this nepotism, I don't see that yet. No one has explained to me how Finch benefits either from the issuance of a grant to her sister or from her status as a landlord receiving no rent.

Do you have beans to spill, Bean?!

cafkia's picture

wrong


Maybe this non-profit does some good. But, take a look. According to the most recent information, at least 50% of the revenue of the non-profit goes to salaries (of more than Finch's sister?). No private donor would give to a non-profit where administrative expense was eating up 50% of the contributions.

I haven't looked it up but, years ago I was told that the reason a friend had started a certain charity (non-profit) was that by law, at least 10% (IIRC) of donated funds had to be for the stated purpose. The remaining 90% was allowed to be used for saleries, offices, equipment, travel, advertising, etc. etc. There are many charities out there and I would bet my lunch money that not all of them have administrative costs of less than 50%. As a matter of fact, I bet that of all of those that have administrative costs higher than 50%, less than 20 percent of them are state sponsored. If I am right, that would seem to indicate that there are indeed "private donors" who will donate to charities that seem to have a certain level of inefficiency.

It must be nice to live in a world without scams. Tell me more about it.

CAFKIA

----------------------------------------------------------- 

It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.
  - William G. McAdoo

mbradley's picture

the difference

There is a difference between adminstrative expenses and salaries... For instance, a social worker employeed to work with pregnant teens could be called salaries but not necessarily an administrative expense. The person sitting behind the desk answering the phones in an office would be salaries and also an administrative expense.

In the case sited today, we simply don't know which. One way to find out would be to review the nonprofits 990 report with the IRS. That may break it down further. I'm sure the NS has done that or is in the process of doing it since that's public record. Guidestar.org is a pretty cool place to check of some of that stuff for the rest of us.

CBT's picture

Steve, On a local non-profit

Steve,

On a local non-profit board on which I served for a number of years, we had this administrative expense discussion at length. We were a good bit less than 10% in admin. I believe the United Way took some heat when it's admin got above 10% (that was at the time it had lots of troubles).

Here's a study of non-profits receiving grants. (link...). It shows a 4.8% average in small community grant organizations. Here's another commentary which indicates that no non-profit should have administrative expenses above 15%. (link...)

There are variables, but if half or more of the money an organization raises is not going to the people/purpose of the organization, seems to me the employees are the charity.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Is TennCorp a pass-thru type organization?

Chad, as I understand TennCorp's function (so far), they're not a pass-thru type organization like United Way or the non-profits detailed in your two links.

I *think* they offer just those consultative and referral services I mentioned earlier. For that reason, I *think* we would expect to see the bulk of their expenses go to salaries and/or admin expense.

That's just one more point we need clarification on from the media, though...

Mello's picture

Tamara

You don't need to wait for the media.

foundationcenter.org

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Mello

But Mello, your link is to a foundation-related site, too. Is TennCorp a foundation, passing money along to other charities? I don't see any indication of that...

United Way (Chad's reference) passes money along to others. The two links he shared also relate to the finances of non-profits passing along money to others.

Again, it's my understanding right now that TennCorp is not a foundation and does not pass money along to others, that they spend all their grant money on delivering these consultative and referral services.

Do others read TennCorp's function differently?

CBT's picture

Seems to me that the one

Seems to me that the one with the most dirt is still collecting a county check. We have:

Werner, who shouldn't have bought liquor, cigars and $600 dinners. He's the finance director and should be held to a higher standard. But, John will land on his feet.

Bone, yes, she had issues with her p-card. How much she spent and on what is not yet clear. I believe it was admitted that she used her county card for personal expenses.

And now Loyd, who, in my view, barely warranted a reprimand (only as to the use of the p-card for any personal matter, the lobster lunch was at the direction of her boss). Margie will have no problem finding a job.

An aside. Isn't it curious that Loyd went from 'medical leave' to Greg Issacs office and a stern resignation, all in one day. Some have speculated there was a falling out and she left mad, maybe over being thrown to the wolves and allowed to twist in the wind by her superiors.

But, what now of Finch? Is that where the Mayor draws the line? If so, why in comparison to the others? My guess is this. Finch never made six figures in her life. She can't leave and find a job at half the salary. She'll hang on, no matter the cost to Ragsdale. And, if she does leave, it will not be pretty. Maybe the Mayor should have kept Werner. Over the long haul he may prove to be far less of a problem.

Can't you see the commercials from Governor candidate Ragsdale's opponents? A young man in a dapper suit smoking a cigar and having a drink. A young woman munching on lobster to go. And, back room characters plotting strategy for getting taxpayer grants to relatives. And the voice-over...Tennesseans don't need Ragsdale's kind of government in Nashville.

Arms may be right that it's 3 years 'til the Governor's race. But, with all these problems, money and support might be hard to come by, particularly in a primary. And, any serious candidate needs to have that in place about two years out. The clock is ticking.

CBT's picture

they spend all their grant

they spend all their grant money on delivering these consultative and referral services.

Okay, somebody please tell what these are? Tangible evidence please. Or will someone call BS.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

No BS intended...

...I just don't know what to make of the story, Chad.

Let's see, it says TennCorp "serves black children and pregnant women" and that the $20K county grant "goes to a youth program called the Freedom Institute" and that the $75K state grant "will go toward a program that helps reduce infant mortality rates by addressing prenatal care access for black women."

So, is TennCorp buying stuff, like food and vitamins? Are they actually paying for people's medical care? If so, I'm mistaken in my impression that they're just paying a lot of social worker-type salaries.

I dunno...

Bbeanster's picture

Am I the only one who finds

Am I the only one who finds it weird that a grant funded by public dollars would be earmarked by race? Income level I can see, geographic area, maybe -- but to exclusively serve "black children" and "black women"?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Sandra, if the director

Sandra, if the director rarely/never shows up at work, that's relevant info the public needs. I just didn't see that in today's story (I'll be looking for yours).

But Betty, I'm thinking I read recently about some sort of grant extended to Native American children. I know KC Parks and Rec boosts their grant amounts for parks/playgrounds that are to be made handicap-accessible, if that's a parallel...

Sandra Clark's picture

Finding out

Tamara ... don't mean to sound crass, but you could find out (and so could the Sentinel) what the agency does if the director ever comes to work -- or if Finch knew her sister's phone number. -- s.

CL's picture

I just heard a rumor that

I just heard a rumor that Cynthia Finch has also hired Greg Issacs. Has anyone else heard anything about this?

Stan G's picture

To add to Mbradley's

To add to Mbradley's commment, many small not-for-profits have a staff of two: the executive director and an administrative assistant. If one were to look the organization's statement of revenue and expense, it would appear that 100% of the expenses were spent on salaries, employee benefits and occupancy expenses.

When the organization prepares IRS Form 990, it is required to allocate those expenses to the following functions: program, administrative, and fundraising. In most instances the allocation is made on the basis of the employees time records. While they might have changed, the usual guidelines assume an administrative expense of about 15% and fundraising expenses of about 10%. The organization is also required to provide a summary of its program expenses by program including the services provided and the number of individual benefited.

It's been a while, however, as I recall, the State of Tennessee requires monthly reports of total revenue and expense when either state or federal money administered by the state is involved.

Financial reports, however, are not necessarily an good indicator of the effectiveness of the organization's program.

The one good thing about being pessimistic is - at least it shows you understand the situation. -- Unknown

lovable liberal's picture

What the RWGs have

Lawyers, good ones. They set up obviously phony deals like the one-vote annexation, and the courts find in their favor anyway - because some paper filing was unassailable or because some other paper filing missed a deadline.

RWGs don't bother with transparent travel expense pretexts. They know how to set them up right. Lawyers (and doctors, too, by the way) combine personal travel with professional activities - seminar over breakfast and golf in the afternoon in, oh say, Hawaii. Then they deduct the expense or get reimbursed for it without quite offending our sniffers.

That still doesn't make the alleged behavior right, but it does turn a black-and-white (ahem!) story into shades of gray.

One more thing: I'm surprised no one has mentioned Cherokee Country Club. Going out on a limb, I don't think any of the women in this thread are members. Just sayin' is all.

Liberty and justice for all.

My new home

CBT's picture

dear lovable, Lawyers,

dear lovable,

Lawyers, doctors and other so-called RWG's are not using taxpayer money. If Finch was wasting her private employer's money, I wouldn't care (absent having some interest in that company). But, she's using my money. She and her superiors have an obligation to the taxpayers who pay their salaries. No gray there.

I fail to see what Cherokee CC or any other private social club has to do with Cynthia Finch's waste of taxpayer money or her diverting taxpayer money to give her sister a job. Seems to me you're 'just sayin' to divert attention from the actual issues at hand.

Lawyers are often like Congressmen, people dislike all of 'em except their own. I should know.

Carole Borges's picture

Were these black women not savvy enough?

I think it's a fair question to wonder if perhaps these women might have been caught doing things that were wrong or borderline wrong because they were not as savvy as the entrenched "Good Ole Boy" system which has learned to cover its white butt with all kinds of legal trappings. You have to admit it does seem odd that the three highlighted cases this week all turned out to be black women. Apparently the non-profit sector all across the country is facing problems, so at least Knoxville can stop beating itself about the head and shoulders for being some kind of an anomaly.
In this speech at an Independent Sector Conference by SEC Chairman William H. Donaldson pointed out there is a dire need for reform in the non-profit sector. (link...)

"As you more than likely know, INDEPENDENT SECTOR has compiled 350 news articles in just the last 16 months that raise serious questions about non-profit governance, stewardship of resources, and integrity.....These proposals reflect the erosion of confidence in the non-profit sector, a situation more acute because it follows widespread corruption in the for-profit sector—corruption that started with Enron, and followed with a hall of shame that includes WorldCom, Adelphia, and others. Beyond that, there were compelling signs that shortcomings in the performance of corporate leaders were widespread―making the numbers, managing earnings, and other troublesome practices. These abuses did not arise from the behavior of just a few "bad apples." Rather, the practices seemed to be evidence of a more pervasive erosion of professional and ethical standards in the for-profit corporate "

It really is sad if these women who have done so much to try to help their community succumbed to greed or failed to maintain records because they were in an "eroded" arena and didn't thoroughly understand the ethics involved.

Someone suggested that one thing these women had in common was their color, but it also could have been naivete. In a corrupt environment, corruption sometimes becomes business as usual. People see there is little accountability, so they get sloppy in small ways (and sometimes large ways too).

Call me an idealist, but somehow the idea that these women who seem now to be icons of nepotism and greed are somehow stupid, unqualified, and immoral women sticks in my craw.

This does not excuse any wrongdoing, but it might help explain it. More oversight and training is obviously needed to prevent good people from sliding down the slippery slope of too much license.

I can't imagine that a thorough examination of all the other Commissioners' activities won't reveal similar patterns of taking advantage. But, then again, those who know how to cover their tracks usually do a better job of it than these three. And they usually end up with way more money.

Bbeanster's picture

Have you ever talked to Cynthia Finch?

Nobody who knows Finch would ever accuse her of naievete. The woman knows how to work the system.

You shouldn't lump Bone, Loyd and Finch into one category just because they are all African American. Bone and Loyd were administrative assistants -- "secretaries" -- who worked directly under the supervision of Finch and Ragsdale, respetively.

Bone, who was also an AKA, incurred most of the questionable expenses when she accompanied Finch on her sorority trips and "assisted" her in these meetings, just as she did in the office in the City County building. It stretches credulity past the breaking point to be asked to assume that Finch was somehow unaware of her administrative assistant's activities. There's a good chance that Bone would have gotten away unscathed if she hadn't put her husband and son's expenses on the county credit card, since her supervisor evidently didn't see anything wrong with it at the time it happened.

I do not understand how Bone can be held accountable and forced to repay money spent on her traveling on sorority business(and ultimately fired) while Finch is defended and PRAISED for making the very same trips.

Finch is a high-ranking "senior director" who was given a huge amount of decision-making power and was involved in making county policy. She was also Ragsdale's "enforcer," in many instances. Iwould be a significant understatement of fact to say that health department personnel despise her.

I've already stated my opinion of Margie Loyd -- she was Ragsdale's workaholic secretary and she did what he told her to do. Charging the cruise on her P-card was a screw-up and the lobster lunch was on Ragsdale's orders. Any other transgressions (like charging a $6 taco on her P-Card because she was out running Ragsdale's errands all day) are so trivial as to be hardly worth mentioning.

Sam's picture

Is anybody but me having trouble keeping

all this mess straight: it's unravellings so fast and quick, it's hard to keep up with it.

Ennui's picture

Another editorial this

Another editorial this morning in the KNS

CBT's picture

A question I had... It

A question I had...

It appears Ragsdale has allowed his long-time dedicated secretary to take a lot of heat for actions done at his instruction and has now forced her out (clearly no one is safe when political futures are at stake).

Do you think some old school political donors and supporters will view the Mayor's actions as 'ungentlemanly'? Seems to me some older folks will be of the opinion he owed her much more than she got.

Carole Borges's picture

"The woman knows how to work the system."

That's your personal opinion, Beanster, perhaps an educated guess, but the connotation that comes with it is not a pleasant one, as it is often associated with welfare mothers and the like.

I've talked with Finch, interviewed her, and been to several events where she presented herself professionally and was warmly received by many people in the health department.

This so far boils down (no pun intended) to a somewhat lavish lobster lunch that was approved, maybe even directed to be lavish, by her boss, and the fact that her sister and other relatives were part of the non-profit she formed. A fact which she apparently did disclose.

Are these two things really as scandulous as all this hyperbole that is being waved in print like a red flag before the bullish anti-Ragsdale, anti-commission crowd?

About the $9,000 occupancy item on the form. That demands an explanation and could point to a direct wrongdoing. However, we haven't heard from the director of TennCare yet.

I know..I know...but Finch must have profited from this...

That's also an assumption.

If there is any naivete here it seems to be on the part of the public. Any adult voter who doesn't think politicans, business people, and yes, even media people aren't indulging themselves a bit with lavish lunches and many other far more expensive perks is just plain naive in my book. So many people are acting like they are simply shocked that Ms. Finch had the lavish lobster feast. From the rhetoric floating about you'd think she had baked a baby in her microwave.

Entertaining is part of networking. I really can't fathom the furor over the lobsters.

The occupancy payments TennCorp claimed on their forms IS a serious issue. Was that a payment to Finch? Is there any proof of that yet?

I am totally against anyone using taxpayer monies in ways that are unethical, but I'm not naive enough to think it doesn't go on all the time. It just appears to me that the government here and the taxpayers have far more egregious concerns than lobster dinners and familial relationships between people from other agencies-unless they are finacially profitting by them.

There's beef here, but it's an awfully small patty, not the big juicy steak some want it to be. That will come from a wider investigation.

edna waters's picture

Situational Ethics

I always try to avoid situations where someone pulls out the race card but I have to say this -

Ms Finch is far from naive and if you've seen her at commission meetings, you know she is quite adept at working within the system and she knows the ropes. She is clearly bright, confident, and bold enough to get in the commissions face when she feels the need. As a matter of fact, she may have pushed just a little too hard in that direction and now she's caught between one group of good ole' boys and another and she is feeling the pinch. I think the fact that she "forgot" to mention her sister can't be explained by her lack of sophistication. Telling the paper she did not know how to contact her sister just adds to that thought.

I don't enjoy seeing this happen to anyone but I don't think it's about race.

Rachel's picture

When I saw the story

When I saw the story yesterday, I thought it was a non-story. So Cynthia Finch went to work for the county, told a non-profit she used to work for that there were county grants available. Wouldn't be surprised if many non-profits who apply for grants find out they're available from someone in govt.

So she provided the non-profit space rent-free. Nice of her.

But she wasn't receiving any personal gain from the grant. So like I said, a non-story.

Hearing about the sister changed all that. I don't know Ms. Finch well, but what I have seen of her leads me to think she's a smart, savvy individual. It's hard to believe she didn't deliberately not tell the reporter about the sister - for crying out loud, he asked for the exec director's phone #.

And having your sister personally profit from a grant approved by the dept you supervise - that looks bad, at the very least.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Just plodding

Rachel earlier, on her changing perception of the Finch story: "Hearing about the sister changed (that first impression that this was a non-story). I don't know Ms. Finch well, but what I have seen of her leads me to think she's a smart, savvy individual. It's hard to believe she didn't deliberately not tell the reporter about the sister -for crying out loud, he asked for the exec director's phone #. And having your sister personally profit from a grant approved by the dept you supervise - that looks bad, at the very least."

I'd have to say that I think Finch's withholding her sister's phone number was a bad move, too.

If she's innocent of wrongdoing, maybe she was overly guarded because of poor Allison Wagley having her name bantered about for buying a $4 bottled water on her p-card, or because Margie Loyd's accidental charge of a cruise (per Bean) was also mischaracterized by the press?

I won't yet assume that Finch's sister "personally profited" from the grant, though, because 1) I don't yet know her sister's salary at TennCorp (generally speaking, non-profits pay notoriously low salaries), and 2) if the sister's salary is higher than the norm, I don't yet know if the effectiveness of TennCorp's program and/or if the sisters's possibly superior qualifications warrant a higher salary than those generally paid by non-profits.

Again, I'm not defending, I'm just kinda plodding...

(Oh...and remember that grants are not "approved by the department (Finch) supervises." Hopefully, Ragsdale is scrutininzing those grants he recommends for approval and Commission is scrutinizing those grants they actually approve? Guess we'll find out...)

CBT's picture

A brief follow-up. Lest you

A brief follow-up.

Lest you think my question as sexist. It's not. I see a difference among the players, which has nothing to do with sex or race.

Werner - Senior Staff
Arms - Senior Staff
Finch - Senior Staff
Van De Vate - Senior Staff
(there may be one or two more in this category)

Margie Loyd was Ragsdale's secretary at Barber-McMurry. He brought her with him to the Mayor's office when elected. She wasn't political. The only apparent political thing she did was specifically at the mayor's request. And for that, she's paid dearly.

The senior staff have to take political heat. It's part of the job. But, Margie Loyd? Shouldn't she be protected, particularly when she was only doing what she was asked to do? I believe some political folks will view this failure to protect different from the other scandals.

cafkia's picture

So, if I understand

So, if I understand correctly, if a lawyer or a doctor goes to Hawaii and does a seminar breakfast and then plays golf for several hours and then goes to dinner and then drinks, it is ok for him to write it off as a business expense (continuing education you know) and I should just shut up because it is private money. Is that about it? Now, what is it that the phrase "write it off" refers to? Oh yes, now I remember, TAXES. We are talking about them reducing their taxes. But, aren't taxes PUBLIC money? Why yes Steve, yes they are. But, wouldn't that mean that lots of people were in essence, ripping off the government (also known as the people)? Why yes, yes it would. Well, why don't they all get this level of scrutiny, after all, wrong is wrong isn't it?

Oh, wait, someone already asked that question didn't they?

CAFKIA

----------------------------------------------------------- 

It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.
  - William G. McAdoo

cafkia's picture

To be fair, my previous post

To be fair, my previous post was in no way intended to be a justification or amelioration of the actions of the senior staff members currently under review. It was simply posted as support for my earlier post about the unequal playing field.

CAFKIA

----------------------------------------------------------- 

It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.
  - William G. McAdoo

edens's picture

>the connotation that comes

>the connotation that comes with it is not a pleasant one.

Neither is the connotation of your subsequent comparison. If you're going to call Bean a racist, at least have the courage and decency to be up front about it.

lml's picture

Business travel and more

"So, if I understand correctly, if a lawyer or a doctor goes to Hawaii and does a seminar breakfast and then plays golf for several hours and then goes to dinner and then drinks, it is ok for him to write it off as a business expense (continuing education you know) and I should just shut up because it is private money. Is that about it? Now, what is it that the phrase "write it off" refers to? Oh yes, now I remember, TAXES. We are talking about them reducing their taxes. But, aren't taxes PUBLIC money? Why yes Steve, yes they are. But, wouldn't that mean that lots of people were in essence, ripping off the government (also known as the people)? Why yes, yes it would. Well, why don't they all get this level of scrutiny, after all, wrong is wrong isn't it?

Oh, wait, someone already asked that question didn't they?

CAFKIA"

Here's what the IRS says about mixing business and personal travel:

Trip Primarily for Business
You can deduct all of your travel expenses if your trip was entirely business related. If your trip was primarily for business and, while at your business destination, you extended your stay for a vacation, made a personal side trip, or had other personal activities, you can deduct your business-related travel expenses. These expenses include the travel costs of getting to and from your business destination and any business-related expenses at your business destination.

Example.

You work in Atlanta and take a business trip to New Orleans. On your way home, you stop in Mobile to visit your parents. You spend $1,070 for the 9 days you are away from home for travel, meals, lodging, and other travel expenses. If you had not stopped in Mobile, you would have been gone only 6 days, and your total cost would have been $920. You can deduct $920 for your trip, including the cost of round-trip transportation to and from New Orleans. The deduction for your meals is subject to the 50% limit on meals mentioned earlier.

Trip Primarily for Personal Reasons
If your trip was primarily for personal reasons, such as a vacation, the entire cost of the trip is a nondeductible personal expense. However, you can deduct any expenses you have while at your destination that are directly related to your business.

A trip to a resort or on a cruise ship may be a vacation even if the promoter advertises that it is primarily for business. The scheduling of incidental business activities during a trip, such as viewing videotapes or attending lectures dealing with general subjects, will not change what is really a vacation into a business trip.

About Tenn-Corp: Has anyone here checked w/ the City of Knoxville's law dept to see if Tenn-Corp has financial statements on file with the city? Non-profits who solicit funds within the city limits are required to file annual financial statements with the city in order to request and receive support from the public. If there's no City of Knoxville issued solicitations permit, then wouldn't Tenn-Corp be out of compliance when it accepted free rent worth thousands of dollars?

SHarris's picture

Tenn-Corp filed annual reports

(link...)

I don't see any way to access the reports from this web site though

Yvette's picture

Things Fall Apart

It appears we have a “torn stage curtain” and are peeking behind it with titillated glances – or in the rural case, like drivers slowing down to gawk at a bloody accident on the highway - yet we are unable to see that it’s our own faces peering up from the victims. But some like Cynthia are a purposeful victim of their own “self” making. Ragsdale’s Lieutenant needs to alter and repair herself to new ground. Cynthia, from this distance - why? Remember?

Chinua Achebe’s writes in Things fall Apart:

“Turning and turning in the widening spiral
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

A philosopher once wrote that truth is always both concealing and revealing. In this vein, it's apparent that at least one newspaper related “Blogger” has a way of covering up then revealing in some Shopper some hidden and penetrating truth. But why do they “feel” like agendas seeking an audience?
What has taken place? Can Knox County only reach some stability by cleaning up Suite 615 entirely and then vote in a whole new commission? Who shall the "condottiere" be to lead the charge?

SnM's picture

Um, actually, that poetry

Um, actually, that poetry stanza is from Yeats' "The Second Coming":

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Mello's picture

hummmmm

Never mind.

Yvette's picture

Things Fall Apart

You are correct SnM...tis poetry... from Yeats and the line Things Fall Apart was extracted for the title of Achebe's book. Congratulations.

Joe Taylor's picture

Scandal

I have 3 questions for the group and if anyone knows the answers please post or provide the link: here goes...

1. With regard to the audit... can we review the part completed now or do we have to wait until the audit is complete to review their findings?

2. Have they begun to look at the Knox County Hospitality account yet?

2. a. Does the Knox County Hospitality account not have to abide by the same rules and regulations as all other accounts? my point being you can not purchase liquor with any account controlled by Knox County... then why should you be able to purchase liquor with this account.

3. Is the auditor going to look at the professional services contracts handed out by the mayor's office over the past several years?

Stan G's picture

Submitted by Tamara Shepherd

Submitted by Tamara Shepherd on Wed, 2007/07/25 - 9:02pm.
...I just don't know what to make of the story, Chad.

Let's see, it says TennCorp "serves black children and pregnant women" and that the $20K county grant "goes to a youth program called the Freedom Institute" and that the $75K state grant "will go toward a program that helps reduce infant mortality rates by addressing prenatal care access for black women."

So, is TennCorp buying stuff, like food and vitamins? Are they actually paying for people's medical care? If so, I'm mistaken in my impression that they're just paying a lot of social worker-type salaries.

I dunno...

According to the 1995 Form 990 the program is: "To empower communities, groups and individuals to become innovatively self-sufficent." The $75,000 grant is listed, the County grant is not unless it is included in direct public support which totaled $32,563.

As far as the $9,000 occupancy expense, it could very well be offset by $9,000 in direct public support. In the not-for-profit world it's common to report donated services in that manner on the assumption that if the office space had not been donated the organization would have had to rent office space.

Let me add that there is a twelve member board of directors not including the executive director and that the 990 was prepared by a CPA.

Sandra Clark's picture

Republicans

Rikki: Not fair to lay this off on Republicans.

Locally, the Democratic Party should field candidates. For what other reason does a party exist? We should have a strong Republican and Democratic choice for each office at every election.

Nationally, there's blame to go around -- Most folks would agree that the Reagan years bested the Carter years while the Clinton years beat the Bush 43 reign. -- s.

rikki's picture

did David Lee Roth say fair warning?

For what other reason does a party exist?

To divide Americans and prevent them from uniting around common values and interests? To make it easier for chumps to vote? I'm not really sure why parties exist, though I'm pretty sure they only truly exist when there are at least three.

What is this "fair" of which you speak? Was it fair for the power structure to ignore the will of Knox County voters for nearly two decades, to the point of nearly destroying the county charter itself, then take one last farmer's blow on voters on Black Wednesday?

Was it fair for the co-chair of the Bush 2000 campaign to also have the power to certify the election results in Florida and to conduct a fraudulent voter purge prior to polling day? Was it fair for Scalia, Rehnquist and Thomas to vote in Gore v. Bush despite having immediate family slated to be employed by Bush? Is it fair for Gonzales to dodge every question thrown his way? Was it fair for Bush to never face a single question about being asleep at the wheel on 9/11/2001?

That's exactly the point of my last sentence. Until Republicans sincerely apologize for all they have enabled and pledge to try harder, fuck "fair." When is the Republican party going to clean house? You're overrun with maggots.

rikki's picture

repent

Let's examining the emerging pattern:

Bush:war profiteers::Ragsdale:developers
Bush:Iraq::Ragsdale:Midway Industrial Park
Bush:PNAC::Ragsdale:Development Corp.
Bush:$10B vanished in Iraq::Ragsdale:P-cards
Rove:govt email on RNC computers::Harber:campaign work on county time
Delay:gerrymandering::Moore:Black Wednesday
Gonzales:torture::Hutchison:Squirrel Squad
Cheney:Plame::Arms:Hutchison's account numbers
Miers, et al:contempt::Hutchison:contempt
Cheney:Energy Task Force::Ragsdale:Hospitality Fund
Bush:WMDs::Ragsdale:public parking
Rove:Kerry::Arms:Mike Chase
Bush:Scalia,Rehnquist and Thomas::incumbents:Weaver
Bush:tax cuts enriching Cabinet::Hutchison:drug war booty
Santorum:dogs::Pinkston:South High
Abramoff:money::Moore:sunshine
Laura Bush:Chalabi::Van de Vate:loose convict
Cheney:undisclosed location::Garrett Meeks:where you at?
Cheney:Joseph Wilson::Ragsdale:Tyler Harber
Nancy Pelosi:impeachment::East Towne Mall:orange ballot
nation:climate change::county:sewer overflows and floods
Bush:Constitution::Hutchison:Charter
average American:uninsured despair::average Republican:air-conditioned bliss
Islam:terrorism::Christianity:Rove

Pickens's picture

accounting problems with Ragsdale's hospitality account

from WBIR:

(link...)

CBT's picture

The local disputes have

The local disputes have nothing to do with party affiliation. Ragsdale's an R, but Finch? I think she's a D from way back. The scandals are about facts, not R's and D's.

Party affiliation means far less at the local level. It can provide a voter base (connection) and possibly organization, but on issues/votes, it's virtually meaningless. As a former GOP Chairman, if I had gone to Commissioners and asked them to vote a certain way because they were Republicans, I wouldn't get very far.

Party means more in Nashville and even more in Washington. It's built in to the system. Seems to me that leaving party affiliation and allegiance to platforms might be better left to elections and not governing.

rikki's picture

Scandals are indeed about

Scandals are indeed about facts, and the fact of the matter is that several Republicans in elected offices -- not party chairs, not Republican voters, not principles or platforms, and not all elected Republicans -- are putting on gross displays of corruption, dishonesty, abuse of power and basic inability to govern responsibly. When are you guys going to rid your party of these assholes who are ruining its reputation?

(btw, I also think Harry Reid is a world-class scumbag, and Democrats should be embarrassed to have him as the majority leader of the Senate)

bill young's picture

Its tough for Democrats to

Its tough for Democrats to win around here.
The last time the county went Democratic,for president,was 1940 & I dont think its ever gone for a Democrat for congress.Whig yes Democrat no.Plus,the Democrats only vote 6,800 in county primaries... the Republicans 25,000.Simply put the Republicans only need 5-6,000 more votes to win in the general,25,000 was all Hutchinson needed in '06.Also,the 1st district is the only solid gold Democratic district in the county.

It can be done.Bredesen won the county back to back..first time the Democrats have done that in 40 years.Tommy won a close one in '94..big in '98.Padgett won & Nichols,Wimberly,Leibowitz,Baumgartner & Fansler all win.Mark Harmon,Madeline & Billy won in the 2nd,Mark Cawood in the 6th & Bratton in the 9th.

In '08 what would I do? 1.Get the '06 Democratic primary voters.Go see those folks NOW!! This is where yardsigns & small contributers come from.2.Website.This is who I am;what I want to do;give money;where I'll be.3.Contrast yourself with whats going on..GOOD GOVERNMENT..GOOD GOVERNMENT...GOOD GOVERNMENT..It workedin the recall against Cas Walker..it will work against the black wednesday gang.4.After you contact the primary voters..Forget about targeting..go see everybody.register voters.

In Nashville & Washington King Caucus rules esp in the lower house(closure rules in the Senate make it more difficult).The state parties are in the bidness of electing folks to the House & Senate.Nationally,the house & senate party caucuces have their own campaign organizations.Partisan politics is about control not governing.

Forty years ago Democrats were in the same shape Republicans are today.Ethics charges were brought against Adam Clayton Powell & Edward Long.Thomas Dodd was censured for personal use of campaign funds & The Democrats Mr.Fix It,Bobby Baker went to jail.Wallace & Maddox were spewing racial intolerence.The Vietnam war was raging.The country was torn.

LBJ,while attending a church service, the minister ask him for "some logical,straightfoward,explanation" of the war.

The chant was
HEY HEY LBJ HOW MANY KIDS DID YOU KILL TODAY???

So,by comparison,"overrun with maggots" is not that harsh.
However,I would not put that on flyer & pass it out in the neighborhoods.It might put a smile on the 6,800 yellow dog Democrats but it wont get us the votes we need to win.

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