Weaver to no longer serve as fair board chair after term expires

Tuesday, February 1, 2011 at 12:38pm

Board of Fair Commissioners chair James Weaver confirmed Tuesday he won’t continue to serve on the fair board after his term expires in April.

Weaver, a Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis attorney who specializes in real estate, referenced his impending departure on several occasions at Tuesday morning’s fair board meeting, using phrases such as “I won’t be here” after April. Appointed in 2006 to fill a five-year term, Weaver's tenure will end April 6. 

“If nominated, I shall not run. If elected I shall not serve,” Weaver said afterward, turning to a phrase made famous by President Lyndon B. Johnson. “I’ve done this long enough.”

Weaver has faced increased scrutiny by many in Nashville’s racing community in recent months as efforts ramped up to save the Fairgrounds Speedway at the 117-acre Tennessee State Fairgrounds. Some questioned Weaver’s role as a registered lobbyist for CBL Properties, owner of Hickory Hollow Mall in Antioch, where Mayor Karl Dean originally sought to relocate the fairgrounds’ expo center.

Weaver rejected the notion that pressure got to him.

“It’s not about me,” Weaver said. “I’m just one person who happens to be on this board, who missed a board meeting and somehow got elected board chair. I’ll roll off and someone else will come in my place. That’s how this is done in Metro.

“We’ll go forward,” he added. “This board will still be focused like a laser on what’s the best thing long-term for the state fair and anything else that the council, the mayor and the administration gives us a charge to be responsible for.”

The mayor makes appointments to the five-member fair board. 

The new chair would presumably be tasked with spearheading the creation of a new master plan to dictate the future of the fairgrounds property, a course of action outlined in council legislation to be considered on the final of three votes Tuesday night.

9 Comments on this post:

By: CrimesDown on 2/1/11 at 12:28

Good. It means little though. He will probably be replaced with someone as bad or worse.

By: Nitzche on 2/1/11 at 2:28

I say they add that Lesbian Soccer Coach from Belmont. She is looking for a job, and obviously Gay people are the smartest, most caring people in Nashville?

By: MAmom on 2/1/11 at 10:26

"The mayor makes appointments to the five-member fair board. "

The Mayor may select Fair Board candidates, but I believe they have to be confirmed by the Council.

By: MAmom on 2/2/11 at 5:42


The Fair Board controls what happens at the Fairgrounds. The Fair Board is appointed by the Mayor. The Mayor wants the Fairgrounds property.

When politicians (Dean, Riebeling, Weaver, probably others) began viewing the Fairgrounds as an asset to exploit - the Fair Board majority started running the Fairgrounds badly. Instead of running the Fairgrounds property well - it appeared their mission was to ruin it - to minimize revenues & maximize expenses (vs. the usual business rule of maximizing revenues and minimizing expenses). It also appears they have made a lot of capital expenditures in the last 10 years - using up the once-healthy reserves.

There are no accounting people, entertainment people, concerned vendors, etc. on the Fair Board. The FB majority are folks closely connected to Dean. These four FB Commissioners WEAVER, VARNEY, SUEING, AND HORTON are closely connected to Dean:

a. James Weaver, the CBL Lobbyist (CBL owns Hickory Hollow)
b. Katy Varney, partner in McNeely, Piggot & Fox - Dean's PR firm of choice (and lets not forget that Riebeling and Mike Piggot have a previous relationship - having worked together at the Banner a few years ago)
c. Charles Sueing, insuranceman - Question: Is he related to someone named Marie Sueing - who is the Convention Sales Manager at Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau? I don't know - but Sueing is not so common a name. CSueing is a director of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.
d. Ned Horton, owns the web design firm that did the mayor's website & a Realtor - possibly someone who stands to benefit from "redevelopment".

The Fair Board determines how profitable the Fairgrounds will be by controlling events there. They control revenues:
1. State Fair operations,
2. the number of race events allowed,
3. Flea Market vendors rates,
4. Expo agreements.

They also make big capital decisions.

Watch the Fair Board! Keep them honest.

By: govskeptic on 2/2/11 at 6:32

The Vice-Mayor appoints the council committee that
looks into and approves those appointments made by
the Mayor, who then "recommend" or not those
candidates to the full council. With her hip tied to the
Mayor you can bet this Committee will approve anyone
the mayor recommends. It's a circular web indeed!

By: breathofdeath on 2/2/11 at 8:17

If people really want to have the final say on what happens to this property and the events held there then get enough valid signatures and put the issue on the ballot in a public referendum.

By: pswindle on 2/2/11 at 12:48

Weaver, Thank you for stepping down. You own Hickory Hollow and it sits vacant, and you want to move the flea market and other acitivites there. Smells to me. We have to watch the appointment. Dirty tricks at the highest level.

By: bfra on 2/2/11 at 2:27

With his Hickory Hollow lobbying conections, he had no business being on the board, much less chair the board, in the first place.

By: joe41 on 2/2/11 at 3:28

What a shame we can't have someone who knows how to run a great fair isn't the Chairman. A lawyer in real estate? Get real! They don't have the fair's interest at heart! Good riddance.