Council resolution would remove, replace fair board

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 1:09pm

Metro Councilman Eric Crafton is hoping to remove and replace the Metro Board of Fair Commissioners.

A resolution set to go before the council next Tuesday would remove all five members of the board, which includes chair James Weaver and commissioners Ned Horton, Alex Joyce, Charles Sueing and Katy Varney. Approving the resolution, which Crafton is sponsoring, would require a three-fourths vote from the council. 

“It’s nothing personal, but they’ve said they can’t make it work,” Crafton said, referring to the finances of the Metro-owned fairgrounds.

Mayor Karl Dean and fair board members have cited consecutive years of dwindling revenue at the 117-acre fairgrounds as reason to get out of the state fair business and move events held at the expo center to Hickory Hollow Mall in Antioch. The council is scheduled to consider a bill outlining Hickory Hollow lease agreements on the second of three votes next week.

Crafton likened the fairgrounds entity to a “company.” 

“One of the main reasons the Dean administration has given to close is that it’s not successful — lost money,” Crafton said. “Well, about 75 percent of the accumulated losses over the past 10 years have occurred in the last three years.” 

Weaver, appointed to the fair board by then-Mayor Bill Purcell in 2006, is carrying out a term that expires in April 2011. 

“This is a decision for the council to make,” Weaver told The City Paper. “We leave this decision in their capable hands.”

Not all council members are on board with the idea. Councilman Bo Mitchell, who like Crafton represents parts of Bellevue, said removing commissioners over a disagreement with their decisions could create a “slippery slope.” 

“I’m opposed to that,” Mitchell said. “We’re going to have boards make controversial decisions on a number of issues. 

“Just thinking of the concept that if a board does something that the council does not like, we’re just going to get rid of the whole board,” he said. “We can’t do that.” 


10 Comments on this post:

By: fair_minded on 12/1/10 at 1:11

A great proposal, and something that should have been done long ago! This group has sat back doing nothing to help preserve the Fairgrounds or control it's spending, helping it become a target on the mayor's radar for destruction.

And yes, the whole board needs to go-- their vote to kill the fair and the fairgrounds was unanimous-- not one of them offered any leadership to help control costs or improve the situation in any way.

As to CM Mitchell's comments, do his constituents need to remind him that he is there to represent the people? And if a commission or board has demonstrated, like this Fair Board has done, that they are unable to operate in the best interests of the people, then it *is* up to the council to step in and make personnel changes to improve the situation! In this case, at least get a Fair Board that will TRY!

Further, the Fair Board's actions of ending the State Fair, and relinquish their control of the property is a violation of both state legislation and the metro charter-- and it's certainly within the responsibilities of the council to assure that all boards and commissions are following the charter and living up to the trust invested in them by the people.

This Fair Board has failed in their duty to the citizens of Davidson County, and it's past time for their replacement-- let's do it now! Call and write your council member and let them know!

If you don't know how to reach your council member, their addresses and phone numbers can be found here:

By: karlwithak on 12/1/10 at 1:25

It's very easy to see why Bo Mitchell sides with CBL Lobbyist James Weaver over the people he was elected to represent.
Click on Bo Mitchell's name to see his campaign contributions. You will see that JAMES WEAVER made a sizable donation to Mitchell, as you look through who did contribute to Mitchell you will find that only about 2% came from within his district.

Bo, Resign your office immediately if you want to work for dean and weaver go ahead, but not by trampling over those who voted you into office.

I'd like to see a resolution replacing any metro councilman or woman who continues to vote with the mayor rather than those who they swore to represent.

By: karlwithak on 12/1/10 at 1:34

I nominate Eric Crafton to be the next Chairman of the Fair Board !

You can rest assured nothing crooked would go on, and revenues and income to the city would skyrocket seemingly out of the blue.

By: @antiochchicken on 12/1/10 at 8:32

By: MAmom on 12/1/10 at 9:44

Crafton quote from above article: 'Well, about 75 percent of the accumulated losses over the past 10 years have occurred in the last three years."


So either way there is justification for the current Fair Board ti be removed since either:
(1) They are Incompetent and cannnot manage the Fairgrounds, OR
(2) They are Competent and they Deliberately orchestrated the "loss" that Dean now uses as an excuse to "redevelop" the Fairgrounds.
Question: Who will replace them?
I hope a mix of REGULAR people who use the Fairgrounds will be on the new Board. Especially it DOES NOT need to be stacked with a bunch of people from the Real Estate profession!

Also, make the Board bigger - such a small group is easy to corrupt.

By: bfra on 12/2/10 at 5:18

MAmom - IMO your #2 reason is the cause of the losses. The Fair Board doesn't need to have, Karl suck-ups or land grabbers. Those types are certainly not looking out for the majority!

By: JeffF on 12/2/10 at 9:56

Would love to see the percentage of "losses" that is attributable to the expenses Dean has created with redevelopment studies and processes.

I would hope out elected officials would not do something like make the fairgrounds pay for its own destruction but I would not put it past them.

Dean still needs this land for something, but he also needs to be reelected. the council members he endangered with this plot have launched an action to save their hides as well as thin the herd of opponents.

I admit to not supporting the track operations, but I now know that those folks will not be here with us the next time Dean and the MDHA mafia attacks. This regime cares first about downtown, then second about downtown. The majority of Nashville ranks somewhere around 7th or 8th on their list. There is something Dean wants out of downtown in order to make room for yet another public edifice, and the fairgrounds is his designated dumping ground. We know it isn't something related to tourism, entertainment, cultural enrichment, infrastructure, education, and public transportation because Dean has indicated that all money and effort will go toward putting that only in downtown.

By: Melstruck on 12/2/10 at 11:49

It should be pointed out that the losses were in the budget and approved by Council. Doesn't this make the Council and Mr. Crafton also at least partially responsible? And does this mean the Council members should also be removed because they approved the continued losses without a plan to turn it around?

By: Community-carl-... on 12/2/10 at 12:11

I agree, the existing Fairboard has got to go. Either they were all grossly incompetent, or they were working in collusion wiith Dean and Reibeling to orchestrate the demise of the Fairgrounds and pave the way for Dean's ill-advised plans. Obviously, either scenerio is unacceptable.

Of course, even if a new Fairboard is appointed, Dean and Riebeling will work behind the scenes to sabatoge their efforts to be successful. It is sad that so many of the Metro Council persons are afraid to stand up to Dean and advocate for the desires of the majority of the constitients they represent. My hat is off to the Council persons who are true representatives of what their constituients want, rather than being a rubber stamp for Dean.

Bottom line: Karl Dean and Rich Reibeling have got to go.

By: pswindle on 12/2/10 at 2:11

No, we need to keep Eric out of the mix. The Fair Board has done something right with all of the down-turn in economy, the fairgrounds has 2 million in reserve. Give the fair grounds a chance and you'll see a bright spot in Nashville. How many times has it rained during the fair? That is not the fault of the Board.