New Reedy Creek Board Announced But Disney Planned Ahead
Okay, it’s over.
Florida has made history by ending the Reedy Creek Improvement District as we know it.
Meanwhile, Florida has announced the new board members who will decide Disney’s fate.
Thankfully, Disney has planned ahead, though.
Let’s talk about the moves and countermoves that occurred on a historic day in Florida!
DeSantis Signs Reedy Creek Oversight Legislation
Overnight Sunday, I noticed an odd item in my Disney news feed.
Fox News Digital published exclusive excerpts from the Ron DeSantis book that comes out this week.
Florida’s governor expressed his side of a private conversation with Bob Chapek, the recently deposed CEO of The Walt Disney Company.
The excerpts provided no real insights into the story beyond what we’d already known. Instead, it was the timing that caught my attention.
Florida’s House of Representatives voted on the Reedy Creek changes on February 9th.
The Florida Senate followed suit on February 10th. Obviously, those two legislative decisions occurred more than two weeks ago.
Since then, I’ve waited for the final signing from the governor’s office that would finalize the proposal.
Oddly, that event never happened, an oddity in recent Florida politics. So, I researched the matter and recognized the reality of what would happen.
DeSantis, who has an eye on the White House, wanted to time the signing with a publicity tour for his book.
When last week ended without any Reedy Creek proclamation, I anticipated movement on either Monday or Tuesday of this week.
Sure enough, that midnight-hour Monday news item hinted at what would happen this morning.
DeSantis visited the Orlando entity where he has a known ally, the Reedy Creek Fire Department, and signed the bill during a carefully orchestrated media event.
In the process, Florida’s governor started what seems like a chaotic time in Disney history. He announced the new board members who will decide Disney’s fate.
Notably, Disney anticipated what was coming and has already moved to protect its interests.
Here’s what just happened with the controlling interest of Reedy Creek and what Disney has done as a countermeasure.
Reedy Creek Is Officially Dead
Effective immediately, the Reedy Creek Improvement District has changed its identity.
Legislation has changed the entity’s identity to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.
While the name switch happens immediately, arcane aspects of governance ensure that Disney may use the name Reedy Creek for another two years.
This bit of weirdness will lead to confusion as analysts use both names interchangeably for the foreseeable future.
We will use Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) for the purpose of this conversation.
As part of the new bill, Florida’s governor possesses the right to appoint up to five members to the CFTOD’s governing board.
In this way, the governor claims that he holds power over Disney. More importantly, the elected official may provide favors to political allies.
Meet the New Board of the CFTOD
Specifically, Florida has already announced the five members who should comprise the new oversight board.
Please understand that the Florida Senate must confirm each member, but that’s a formality at this time due to the current gerrymandered makeup of this legislative body.
Bluntly, Disney won’t like the composition of the new CFTOD panel. The five members are:
- Brian Aungst
- Martin Garcia
- Ron Peri
- Michael Sasso
- Bridget Ziegler
I won’t editorialize about any of these members but instead encourage you to research them and form your own conclusions.
What I will say is that DeSantis has offered political favors to his supporters, something that happens every day in politics.
The most divisive members of this list are Sasso and Ziegler.
The former individual co-authored the legislation for the Don’t Say Gay bill that started Florida and Disney down this path.
Ziegler’s husband co-chairs the Florida Republican Party.
She co-founded Moms for Liberty, which the Washington Post describes as a “controversial conservative group advocating for more parental control in schools.”
Ignoring the political aspects, I struggle to envision how this background provides the qualities necessary to oversee the nuanced details of the CFTOD.
Similarly, while two of the other five board members are attorneys, Ron Peri does have a strong background in electrical engineering and infrastructure. At least there’s that.
Realistically, whether you call it political favors or cronyism, all these appointments stem from politics rather than managerial competence.
In short, Disney will spend most of its time either training these board members, negotiating with them, or simply ignoring them.
Disney’s Brilliant Countermeasure
Last week, in a frustratingly underreported story, Disney protected its short-term interests in CFTOD.
During the final meeting of the former Reedy Creek Improvement District, the previous panel approved a $176 million project.
No, you shouldn’t get your hopes up regarding a new E-ticket new attraction. Instead, Disney did what it always has with Reedy Creek.
The company demonstrated solid governance by protecting the interests of all park guests and the residents of the surrounding area.
Disney added $74.5 million to an existing budget. Now, the company possesses the permit and allocated resources for the third phase of the World Drive North extension project.
This part of the project entails the expansion of current two-lane roads into four lanes, allowing more traffic to move efficiently.
Disney will build 1.6 miles of new four-lane roads plus a 100-foot bridge. Management will also use the new budget to strengthen the existing infrastructure.
By taking this approach, Disney did two things. First, it helped to address future traffic flow issues with a proactive solution.
Second, Disney led by example, quietly underscoring how a well-run company behaves.
Leadership could have authorized any number of projects that quietly defined the CFTOD legislation.
Instead, Disney reminded people what an excellent tenant and model form of private government it has always been.
In doing so, the company signaled that its excellence will remain no matter who pretends like they’re in charge of the CFTOD.
We’re right to love Disney, my friends.
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Main image photo:newsbreak.com