Death by DeSantis

Pilgrim

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Disney overstepped no bounds. As a business, it has the same rights and freedom of expression as any other entity in America. And DeSantis, Republicans and no one else has the right to say otherwise ... no more than I have the right to say you have overstepped your bounds if you say something I disagree with.

DeSantis does have something you and I don't have; the power of the FL governor's office and heavy influence over the state legislators such that they can act together to impose their political will. That's what's happening now and, as your comments well demonstrate, DeSantis is winning the favor of many with his heavy-handed, vindictive actions.

There was a time when the Republican Party was considered the party of business. That is collapsing fast as working class, conservative Republicans channel their anger through party politics, and waging a culture war, are willing to destroy longstanding relationships and institutions (including free and fair democracy).

Locally in Florida, people are scratching their heads trying to figure out what will happen if Disney actually loses the special status they have enjoyed for 50 years. The municipalities in which Disney is located have tiny populations, and they may inherit over $1 billion in debt, which Disney carries now, if this legislative action actually takes hold.
Yes, the Disney corporation has their right of freedom to express their opinions just like any other entity. DeSantis is not denying them this right.
But is it wise for them to jump out of their happy little kingdom and into the world of Florida politics to loudly campaign against a very popular Parental Rights in Education Bill that bans the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K - 3? Not only is Disney getting out of their lane, but they're also alienating the vast majority of FL voters and tens of millions of parents nationwide. Disney is in the entertainment business, and this posturing is bad for business.

The Disney corporate officers should have advised the noisy minority of their employees who started this mess to keep their politics out of the workplace, and then kept their own mouths shut. Their prime directive is to make money for their shareholders, not to get involved with radical left-wing politics, especially when it involves indoctrinating children in FL schools. Didn't they realize there might be consequences from opposing this widely supported legislation?

DeSantis and the FL legislature are not imposing their political wills, they're reflecting the the sentiments of FL residents who don't want teachers imposing perverted sex education on their 5-yr old kids. Disney stepped out of bounds into this political issue and is now paying the price for getting themselves involved in state politics. However, they're a huge corporation and they can afford it; their theme parks bring in about $20M PER DAY, so it's about time they gave up some of their special tax breaks and paid their fair share.
 

ATeam

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Things are coming into clearer focus now that DeSantis has signed into law the bill that dissolves the Reedy Creek Special District. According to Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph, Disney will be immediately relieved of a $163 million per year tax obligation and the citizens of Orange County will have a way to do without that money but provide the services Disney provides now under the special district rules. The tax collector says this could push property tax bills in Orange county up 15-20%. Explained here
 
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ATeam

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Yes, the Disney corporation has their right of freedom to express their opinions just like any other entity. DeSantis is not denying them this right.
But is it wise for them to jump out of their happy little kingdom and into the world of Florida politics to loudly campaign against a very popular Parental Rights in Education Bill that bans the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K - 3?
Clearly, Disney thinks it is wise. It seems Disney employees are behind this push. It seems Disney is responding to the expressed sentiment of its employees, and deems that important enough to express itself as it did.

Not only is Disney getting out of their lane, but they're also alienating the vast majority of FL voters and tens of millions of parents nationwide. Disney is in the entertainment business, and this posturing is bad for business.
There is no evidence of that. Park attendance remains strong. If there is any "boycott Disney" action out there, I have yet to hear of it, and if it does exist, there is no evidence it is effective.
The Disney corporate officers should have advised the noisy minority of their employees who started this mess to keep their politics out of the workplace, and then kept their own mouths shut. Their prime directive is to make money for their shareholders, not to get involved with radical left-wing politics, especially when it involves indoctrinating children in FL schools. Didn't they realize there might be consequences from opposing this widely supported legislation?
So far, the consequences are the special tax district will be dissolved and Disney is thereby freed from its $163 million per year tax obligation.
DeSantis and the FL legislature are not imposing their political wills, they're reflecting the the sentiments of FL residents who don't want teachers imposing perverted sex education on their 5-yr old kids. Disney stepped out of bounds into this political issue and is now paying the price for getting themselves involved in state politics.
Again, Disney heeded the sentiment of its employees, so it's pretty clear that not all Floridians maintain the position you suggest they have. And again, by any traditional indicator -- park attendance, revenue, stock price, etc. -- there has been no price to pay.

Additionally, it remains to be seen what court challenges, if any, will be brought in response to this bill. My guess is an aggrieved group representing the citizens of Orange County, whose property taxes are slated to increase 30-25% will surface to challenge the legality of this bill.

However, they're a huge corporation and they can afford it; their theme parks bring in about $20M PER DAY, so it's about time they gave up some of their special tax breaks and paid their fair share.
"Fair share" is a relative term. Before the bill passed, Disney was paying $163 million per year to the special tax district, in addition to other taxes Florida corporations customarily pay.
 
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Ragman

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... the citizens of Orange County, whose property taxes are slated to increase 30-25% ......

I wonder how this will affect Florida as a whole, and if the voters will remember come election time.
 
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ATeam

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I wonder how this will affect Florida as a whole, and if the voters will remember come election time.
I do not know how it will affect the state as a whole. At present, the clear impacts are slated to fall hard on Orange County and Osceola County, where Disney World is located. This may also have an effect on Florida's municipal and state bond prices but that remains to be seen. If this bill remains intact, moving services from being provided by Disney to the counties and small towns in question will not be pretty. That chaos, if permitted to happen, will give Floridians a great deal to think about come election time.

As things now appear, DeSantis is in good shape heading into the Florida governor's election. He is popular with the majority of Floridians and the Democrats have not produced a candidate strong enough to effectively change that. The "Disney counties" are blue counties. Red Floridians may be perfectly happy to sit back and watch a public services transfer s _ _ t show develop.

As some see it, including me, DeSantis is taking several actions in Florida that benefit him more than the state and/or the Floridians he was elected to serve. These actions are designed to burnish his credentials among the Republicans from whom he will seek support for the Republican Party presidential nomination.

As a politician, DeSantis is highly skilled and calculating; far more than Trump. When the timing for DeSantis is right, look for him to manipulate Trump into an impossible situation, reduce him to an unhinged cartoon character, and banish him into the abyss of insignificance.
 
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ATeam

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More About Reedy Creek

When DeSantis and the Florida legislature moved to dissolve the Reedy Creek special district, bond analysts understandably reviewed the financial impacts on the bondholders. We're learning more as the analysts do this and speak out. We are learning of a State of Florida obligation, stated in the bond documents, "to not in any way impair the rights or remedies of the holders,'”

In other words, Florida has either acted illegally by passing the law in question, or, because of this non-impairment language, is on the hook to make these government bonds good. The bond value is $1 billion. Disney was on the hook but is off the hook now because of the new law. That's a free $1 billion gift to Disney from DeSantis. It seems being punished by DeSantis may turn into a lucrative blessing for Disney.

The likelihood that the State of Florida will allow these bonds to default is zero. That would negatively impact every bond the state has ever issued or will issue by prompting a state credit rating downgrade. Simply, people don't lend low-interest money to entities that default.

As two analysts said, “It is one thing for Florida to threaten one of its local units with rapid dissolution for purely political reasons,” Fabian and Washburn wrote. “It would be a very different thing for the state to knowingly walk away from or violate its own nonimpairment pledge to bondholders.” (Source)

How could DeSantis let such a situation develop? It's called an epic blunder, and even smart people make them from time to time, in politics and in all other domains of life. Top chess players make them. Generals make them. Clergypeople make them. I have made my share. You have too. In this case, the epic blunder was made by DeSantis.

The good news for DeSantis is the law does not take effect until next year, so he has time to reverse or otherwise wiggle out from under his blunder. He has already gained the political points from the angry right this punish-Disney action was calculated to gain. Now he can reverse or otherwise neutralize the action so the interests of the bondholders and the state are not undermined.

Some might say this was not a blunder at all. Some may say it was a brilliant political stroke calculated to capitalize on the gullibility of the angry right while ultimately doing no harm to Disney at all. Having scored the political points, DeSantis may be sitting back and happily waiting for the courts to strike down the law. That leaves Disney and the related bonds unimpared, while allowing DeSantis to complain he is a victim of the activist judges in leftist courts.

I'm not sure this is a brilliant strategy or an actual blunder, and we may never know.

Either way, Disney and the bond holders will not be harmed. And, if things fall a certain way, Disney may be handsomely rewarded with a $1 billion gift, courtesy of Ron DeSantis and the Florida taxpayers DeSantis stuck.
 
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ATeam

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The Disney/Reedy Creek "Privilege"

Fox News shared this good summary of how Disney and the Florida state legislature made the deal to create the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

"The special status, known as The Reedy Creek Improvement Act, was signed in 1967 in response to lobbying efforts by the entertainment giant. At the time, Disney proposed building a recreation-oriented development on 25,000 acres of property in a remote area of Central Florida's Orange and Osceola counties, which consisted of 38.5 square miles of largely uninhabited pasture and swampland.

"Orange and Osceola County did not have the services or resources needed to bring the project to life, so the state legislature worked with Disney to establish the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special taxing district that allows the company to act with the same authority and responsibility as a county government."
(Source)

Some now characterize this deal as a special Disney privilege. While it may not be inappropriate to use that word, it is wrong to suggest there was something illegal, unfair or wrong with the deal. Two parties, both having the legal right to do so, and both with the consent of the governed, openly negotiated a deal that was seen to be beneficial to both parties, the local economy and the state at large.

And they proved to be right. Turning 25,000 acres of pasture and swampland into a Disney theme park has sparked more development, new tax revenue, new jobs, additional businesses that profit from the traffic Disney generates, and has generated more new wealth for Disney, the state, property owners, businesses and employees than perhaps any other deal made in the history of the state.

Originally a solution to the problem that local governments simply could not provide the emergency services and public works needed to support the park Disney wanted to build, Reedy Creek is a deal that was well made, and has continued to function well for over 50 years.

A couple weeks ago, I sat as a citizen at a city council meeting and watched a developer ask the city to waive a financial penalty he was required to pay because he failed to complete construction and open his restaurant in the specified time. The penalty was part of a deal previously negotiated by him and the city. The developer agreed to improve a property and open a business within a certain time. In return for the city making certain improvements themselves and waiving certain other requirements developers are usually required to comply with, the developer agreed to financial penalties if certain performance markers were not hit.

The performance markers were missed and the council declined the developer's request. They took the money the developer was required to pay. They had already given him a previous extension and were in no mood to give him another.

At another council meeting, I watched a church congregation ask for an extension of a deal they previously made with the city. They asked for and received a continuing waiver of the zoning code so they could conduct certain activities on property they were renting that would be otherwise prohibited, and that no other entity in town is permitted to do on property they occupy. That "privilege" was enthusiastically granted by council members who praised the church's positive impacts in its neighborhood.

These kind of deals (or privileges) are common and are granted all the time. Government officials make deals with private entities to cause good things to happen in the community or state. While Reedy Creek is different by virtue of its scope and the big players involved, it no more a privilege than a local church being allowed to hold outdoor services under a canopee, or a restaurateur being granted a zoning waiver and new city sidewalks in return for developing a property.

As you read this, our city is dangling a "privilege" in public now to anyone qualified to accept it. If someone agreed to open a business in a certain area, they would receive a good number of zoning and building code waivers and other incentives from the city. This "privilege" is there for the taking by anyone who wants to snap it up and is qualified to deliver. And they would take it with the blessing of the city, county and state government; and the people who live in the area.
 
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muttly

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A multinational company undermining the interests of a large majority of Floridians is not a good thing.
 

Ragman

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A multinational company undermining the interests of a large majority of Floridians is not a good thing.
I'll ask again..
If the state was Michigan and the company was General Motors wanting to create a complex with 20,000 jobs, would you have the same position?
 

danthewolf00

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I'll ask again..
If the state was Michigan and the company was General Motors wanting to create a complex with 20,000 jobs, would you have the same position?
No .....no company should ever have a private police force or fire department that answers no nobody. Disney has no public oversight for them.
 
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Ragman

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No .....no company should ever have a private police force or fire department that answers no nobody. Disney has no public oversight for them.
Wrong again....

  • Law enforcement – Officers from Orange County, Osceola County and the Florida Highway Patrol are contracted to police the district. In addition, the Walt Disney Company employs about 800 security staff in their Disney Safety and Securitydivision. While Disney security maintains a fleet of private security Chevrolet Equinoxes equipped with flashing amber and green lights, flares, traffic cones, and chalk commonly used by police officers, arrests and citations are issued by the Florida Highway Patrol along with the Orange County and Osceola County sheriffs deputies.

    Disney security personnel are involved with traffic control and may only issue personnel violation notices to Disney and RCID employees, not the general public.[8] Security vans previously had red lightbars, but after public scrutiny following the death of Robb Sipkema,[2] were changed to amber to fall in line with Florida State Statutes.[28]
 
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