Florida Officials Duck a Vote on the CFTOD
Predictably, a proposal to return the governance of Reedy Creek back where it belongs has failed.
The reason why this bill failed is what’s newsworthy. Opponents of Disney chose to get up and leave rather than vote on the record this time.
Yes, supporters of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District just ducked a vote on the CFTOD. Here’s what just happened.
The CFTOD in Shambles
After nine months in operation, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) has objectively turned into a debacle for all involved.
MickeyBlog and other news sites have chronicled the many struggles the CFTOD has faced in trying to govern the so-called Reedy Creek land differently.
Governor Ron DeSantis requested that Florida’s ruling political party strip Disney of its control over the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
A new group, one specifically banned from possessing recent theme park experience, has taken over the governance of the land.
Let’s just say that the Carolina Panthers are having a better 2023 than the CFTOD, and that team is 1-10 and has traded away the likely #1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft for magic beans.
Perhaps the funniest CFTOD anecdote thus far involved the district’s administrator, Glen Gilzean.
At the time, DeSantis had chosen Gilzean as the head of Florida’s Ethics Commission. Then, DeSantis handed him the cushy $400,000 CFTOD job.
Hilariously, government officials determined that the head of the Ethics Commission had acted unethically in taking both jobs.
Gilzean kept the one that paid the most.
We’ve also introduced the season’s most dubious character, someone named – I kid you not – Freddie Figgers.
The CFTOD rewarded Figgers a no-bid million-dollar contract before the local media shamed everyone into reopening the bidding.
Meanwhile, former Reedy Creek employees have quit in high numbers.
The CFTOD also demonstrated the holiday spirit by firing multiple executives during Thanksgiving Week.
More than ten percent of workers have either quit or been fired from this district, which has turned into a punchline.
Even the firefighters who supported the new CFTOD have discovered the downside of poor leadership and governance.
A Reasonable Idea Fails
Any objective evaluation would suggest that the CFTOD is failing and needs reworking. Preferably, governance should return to Disney.
While many have questioned Disney’s complete control of Reedy Creek since the 1960s, the reality is that the company comported itself well.
Disney proved a trustworthy partner to Florida officials, protecting the land and improving the public areas at Reedy Creek.
Now, Disney has accused DeSantis – in a legal filing, no less! – of “ongoing Constitutional mutiny” within this district.
Many residents and even some politicians have had enough. So, they created a bill to abolish the CFTOD and restore power to Disney.
You can read the details of the proposal here:
New: State Senator Linda Stewart is preparing to file a bill that looks to terminate the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and bring back the Reedy Creek Improvement District as it existed as of Feb. 26, 2023. pic.twitter.com/1zFx2MsEBE
— Landon McReynolds (@LandonProducer) November 28, 2023
MickeyBlog covered this story last week, and Justin Hermes and I agreed that it had no realistic path to passing.
However, the proposal came with some intrigue since Ron DeSantis’ political opponent, Donald Trump, has allies within Florida’s House and Senate.
This vote could have grown uncomfortable for DeSantis if he lost some voting support, something we have mentioned as a reasonable possibility.
So, DeSantis loyalists came up with a different approach. Three of them left Orange County’s delegation meeting, preventing it from achieving a quorum.
Even though all seven remaining participants voted in favor of the legislation, it didn’t get out of committee due to the lack of a quorum.
For the bill to proceed, it must gain the requisite votes in committee while there’s a quorum. Until then, it’s stuck.
DeSantis allies adopted this approach to save themselves the headache of choosing a side on the suddenly unpopular CFTOD.
What Happens Next?
Legislators plan to take up the bill again during the next two weeks, but its odds of passing remain highly unlikely.
Realistically, at least until the next election, the CFTOD should remain intact, barring something unforeseen.
Disney’s best hope continues to be a court victory. Still, the newfound political pressure creates an intriguing wrinkle here.
The continued failures of the CFTOD connect directly to DeSantis and his supporters.
While the Governor is term-limited and only years away from leaving, the people who avoided the vote today have their political futures at stake.
As such, another wave of fairly reported stories involving incompetence and acrimony could turn public sentiment against the CFTOD.
Past a certain point, this district setup may prove to be too much of a headache for all involved.
Conversely, if Disney loses in court, behavior that the Associated Press describes as “cronyism” will become the norm at the CFTOD.
So, all Walt Disney World fans have skin in the game here.
Featured Image: Central Florida Tourism Oversight District
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