Fair board chair steps down

Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 4:38pm

Katy Varney, chair of the five-member Metro Board of Fair Commissioners since April, has stepped down from the fair board.

Varney, a partner at McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations, said she sent a letter of resignation to Mayor Karl Dean’s office in January, informing his administration she would no longer be serving on the board.

Varney said she recently agreed to chair the board of the directors for the Nashville Public Library foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the city’s libraries. Time commitments wouldn’t allow her to chair both boards, she said.

“I have very strong and deep feelings for the library,” said Varney, a long-time board member of the library foundation. “It’s another great way to support my city.”

Varney’s departure creates an opening on a Metro board that entered the public spotlight following Dean’s first-term plans to redevelop the 117-acre Tennessee State Fairgrounds.

Dean has since backed off those plans after Davidson County residents overwhelmingly voted for a Metro Charter amendment that would increase the required number of Metro Council votes needed to change the status quo at the fairgrounds.

Alex Joyce, vice chair of the fair board, will serve as acting chair until Dean’s administration nominates –– and the council appoints –– an individual to replace Varney.

The fair board would then be tasked with appointing a permanent chair.

10 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 2/10/12 at 6:48

Did the Mayor think his appointment of Ms. Varney, a member of his highly
affective and expensive PR firm, would not be recognized by the citizens
of Metro as a huge conflict of interest in the Fair Grounds dispute? She
showed wisdom in stepping down both for herself and her firm!

By: whitetrash on 2/10/12 at 7:58

Varney has been on the fair board for over 5 years. She just recently became the Chair and the article explains why she chose chairing the nonprofit over chairing the fair board. Her priority is obviously to the Metro Libaries and not the fairgrounds.

By: spooky24 on 2/10/12 at 8:15

Is there any doubt left that the Fuhrer will get the fairgrounds developed for his rich buddies?
Herr Dean hates to lose and stacking various boards is a common underhanded ploy.


By: pswindle on 2/10/12 at 9:12

Good! Now, maybe the Fairgrounds can move forward.

By: bfra on 2/10/12 at 9:53

Any & every thing relating to the Fairgrounds, should be taken out of Dean's hands!

By: bfra on 2/10/12 at 1:35

Not that the local media will advertise a lot, can't hurt Karl's feelings, but the Lawn & Garden Show will be at the Fairgrounds March 1st & 4th.

By: bfra on 2/10/12 at 3:06

That should be 1st thru 4th!

By: JayBee56 on 2/11/12 at 3:23

Now's the time to appoint a chair who is passionate about keeping the fairgrounds and will be a cheerleader for it. A native or long-time Nashville who remembers the fairgrounds in better days would be great. It should be someone who recognizes its history yet pragmatic enough to make it continue to be viable. Somone who is not just a "yes man" for the mayor.

By: Ask01 on 2/13/12 at 7:37

I agree totally, JayBee56. The Fairgrounds and raceway have tremendous potential, and not just as a vacant lot or yet another collection of unoccupied office buildings, as seems to be the vision of Mayor Karl Dean. I still advocate developing the area as a sort of County Fair and NASCAR theme park to help relieve convention goers of money during their off time. Why would they go to such an attraction, might be asked? Advertising the attraction and hyping the connection to Nashville (country music, state fair, the south, auto racing,) at the Dean convention center and attached hotel would be a start.

Most definitely, the replacement needs to be unconnected with Mayor Dean, and anti Dean if at all possible.

By: bfra on 2/13/12 at 10:44

If this a step up position, must be her payoff for doing Dean's bidding in trying to ruin the Fairgrounds.