Peekskill City Manager Rick Finn disputed charges that he made a racist comment during a recent city-sponsored customer service training session at a press conference this afternoon.
Finn read from a prepared statement, explaining what he says happened during the training session:
"The trainer led the discussion by categorizing audiences as having four possible communication styles: Driver, Analytical, Amiable, or Creative. Here is the segment and the discussion on how to address an audience if, as the speaker, you are not sure which communication style is in the audience.
"Trainer: When we started this question, it was what is the best way to do this if you're not sure. The best way is to be sure and be all of these things. Of course. If you're just out there and you don't know what to do, and you don't know who they are, I'm suggesting err on the side of primarily being an Amiable. Ok, with that, going to give each (Richard Finn raised his hand to ask a question) Rick?
Richard Finn: Does this carry true for different races and cultures? What if this entire room was filled with African-Americans? Is that still true?
Trainer: In my mind, that is a universal trait. These are universal. That's the neat thing about communication styles. They are universal."
Finn left the room after reading his statement.
Community activist Darrell Davis and Cortlandt-Peekskill Anti-Racism Coalition activist Tracy Breneman were present for the statement. Breneman told Finn his words "had no meaning."
Once Finn left the room Davis told the press that people present during the training session told him that Finn questioned African-Americans' intelligence. Davis said he does not think the city has a legal ground to keep the public from seeing the recording of the training session.
Leesther Brown, who has at past Common Council meetings against Finn and city government, showed up after the conference had ended. "What he said isn't racist, it is stupid," Brown said.
Watch Finn read his statement and Davis and Brown's responses in the video above.