New Reedy Creek Board Members Worry You Aren’t Taking Them Seriously
“Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it.”
The new members of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) are proving this maxim.
This board only met for the first time on March 8th, but it’s already turned into an online punching bag.
After less than four months in operation, the new Reedy Creek board worries you aren’t taking them seriously.
Here’s what has happened and what they’re trying to do about it.
The Problems Thus Far
Another popular maxim is that you only have one chance to make a good first impression.
Presuming that’s true, the opposite has happened with the new board.
During the initial meeting of the CFTOD, the modified board members swore that they had the public’s interests at heart.
At the time, the board heard the complaints of members of the Reedy Creek Fire Department.
Ron DeSantis’s hand-picked board promised quick action to ensure raises for the firefighters at Walt Disney World.
Earlier this week, the President of the firefighters claimed that they’d “shot themselves in the foot” by going public about this matter.
In the process, the firefighters embarrassed the notoriously thin-skinned governor and risked the ire of Reedy Creek’s new administration.
Reedy Creek recently hired Glenton Gilzean Jr. as the district’s administrator, a move that wasn’t especially well received.
That statement has nothing to do with Gilzean himself but rather his salary.
The CFTOD will pay its administrator $400,000, $80,000 more than the previous administrator.
So, one of the CFTOD’s first actions was to splash cash on one of DeSantis’s biggest allies.
Meanwhile, a promised $10,000 raise for all firefighters hasn’t advanced.
In addition, turmoil has already occurred within the CFTOD board.
Michael Sasso recently resigned less than three months after the first board meeting.
DeSantis had named Sasso’s spouse as a member of Florida’s Supreme Court, triggering potential conflict of interest concerns for him.
The CFTOD recently added Charbel Barakat to replace Sasso, with Barakat appearing at his first meeting on June 21st.
That meeting included several curiosities, though.
What’s Happening with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District?
You should recall that Disney sued the state of Florida, DeSantis, and every member of the CFTOD.
Since that happened, the still-new CFTOD has entered an understandable kind of panic phase.
For our entire lives, we’ve all heard jokes about Disney’s legal team. NOBODY wants to face them in court.
Now, these CFTOD board members went from believing they were conquering heroes to playing defense against a fearsome opponent.
While Sasso likely left due to his wife’s success creating potential conflicts, getting away from a Disney lawsuit probably sounded appealing, too.
Disney hasn’t updated its lawsuit to include Barakat yet, but the new board member has willingly stuck his head in the lion’s mouth by joining.
However, the other board members didn’t have much choice here. Disney didn’t sue until after they’d joined.
They’re stuck with this mess, and it has made them change their tune quickly on how they will act.
The lack of a firefighter agreement reflects but one aspect of this evolving story.
Not only is there no deal in the offing, but a discussion of the firefighter contract wasn’t even officially on the board’s agenda for this week.
Something they did instead was confirm that their next meeting will occur behind closed doors.
Yes, they’re planning a “public” meeting that won’t be visible to the public.
Instead, the board members will meet privately in mid-July to discuss strategies for their upcoming lawsuits with Disney.
As a reminder, we’re discussing two different lawsuits right now. Disney sued in federal court, while the CFTOD countersued in Florida.
The CFTOD Worries You Aren’t Listening
While the board members debate how to protect themselves personally in court, none of the complaints from the previous meeting have advanced.
Specifically, people like Steven Schussler, owner of The BOATHOUSE, expressed concerns about rising taxes due to the Florida Feud.
Thus far, the CFTOD has angered workers and business owners in its new jurisdiction while getting sued by the former caretakers of this land.
That’s…less than ideal.
Somehow, the board’s politically motivated members have locked onto a different takeaway than the casual bystander would.
They believe that people are afraid of Disney’s power and influence.
That’s the reason they feel onlookers aren’t taking the new CFTOD board seriously.
So, during the most recent meeting on June 21st, the CFTOD “accomplished” two goals.
First, the board revealed the new logo for the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. Here it is in all its splendor:
Congratulations to whomever the CFTOD hired on Fiverr to create that logo. You’re famous!
The other initiative involved the creation of a whistleblower law for the district.
The aspiration for this idea is to persuade people inside or working with Disney to inform on the company about any nefarious business practices they’ve witnessed.
There’s a popular political aphorism right now that every accusation is a confession, and I cannot help but feel that statement applies here.
People who attained board positions thanks to political connections rather than job skills are now trying to persuade others to narc on Disney.
They cannot comprehend that Disney may have self-governed Reedy Creek so efficiently for decades.
I can understand how that would seem challenging to a group that has already spit the bit repeatedly in less than four months.
Still, this latest turn is just…wow.
The New Whistleblower Law at Reedy Creek
You can read this new document in its entirety on the Reedy Creek website.
This link includes a transcript of the full public meeting on June 21st, including some important comments regarding sacrifices made by firefighters.
Others request changes and due diligence they consider long overdue, and one individual simply requests that all involved parties work together to honor Walt Disney’s vision.
All these conversations merit detailed discussion in a properly functional governmental oversight board meeting. That’s not what we got here.
Instead, the CFTOD prioritized Agenda Item 9.1, Resolution No. 644. Here’s what it says:
“In consultation with the District’s labor attorney, it was determined that the District does not currently have a specific whistleblower policy within its personnel policies.
Thereafter, the Acting General Counsel requested the labor attorney to prepare a whistleblower policy for the Board of Supervisor’s consideration.
This proposed Policy is intended to provide guidance to and assist employees and persons that have knowledge of unlawful activity, misfeasance, or malfeasance by the District, its employees, or its independent contractors, in reporting such knowledge so that the District can address and correct inappropriate conduct and actions.”
What does this resolution mean? Effectively, the CFTOD thought it would easily find people discussing all the many shortcuts Disney has taken.
Instead, the board members have quickly learned that Disney has run a tight ship. Also, many of the people of Reedy Creek dislike the new board.
So, nobody is willing to speak to them about anything. The CFTOD is throwing a Hail Mary that a whistleblower protection law might change that.
And the new Reedy Creek board wonders why you aren’t taking them seriously…
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