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DeSantis' Expensive Extortion

Post # 217, Bob McKnight's Florida Commentary

Disney sought and received a commitment that was honored by the state of Florida. Now a Governor who was not a party to that commitment, has broken it as punishment for the Disney's freedom of speech.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis political career is clear but unimpressive to this writer. He had never served in any public capacity before winning election to Congress. While in Washington, he was known as a typical "back bencher," with little influence. When he ran for Governor in 2018, he was a non-factor until he sought and received then President Donald Trump's endorsement. DeSantis got it, but barely beat former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gilliam to become our 46th Chief Executive.

His record as Governor has been to copy his mentor Trump by opposing public protection from the most deadly virus ever, pushing the sugar industry to continue polluting South Florida's drinking water, creating his own army to police law abiding Floridians, violating the Constitution by drawing reapportionment maps reserved for the legislative branch, and harassing school children and parents over their personal social choices.

Now he has decided to hold Florida's largest tourist generator hostage for opposing a law he has championed over individual rights. In effect, DeSantis is punishing Disney for freedom of speech, long a hallmark of a free society. In shaking down Disney, DeSantis is breaching a covenant Florida made as a condition for the public company to create the world's largest entertainment center in the center of the state. DeSantis was not a party to the original agreement or the condition creating it. DeSantis is not known of having done anything of benefit for Disney, but did accept free admission and hospitality for himself and family.

Since Disney is the prime magnet for drawing tourists to Florida, it is only right that everyone affected by this blatant extortion threat join in the protest of the expected action of certain GOP legislators and the governor. These might include, but not be limited to:

  • Disney World Theme Park, Companies, and the Town of Celebration

  • ABC Television and Movie Studios

  • Universal Theme Park and NBC Studios

  • Sea World

  • International Drive Resorts, Hotels and Entertainment

  • Lego Land

  • Cypress Gardens

  • Church Street Downtown Orlando

  • Central Florida University (largest in the World)

  • Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Country Club, among dozens more.

  • Orlando Magic Professional Basketball Team

  • Lockheed Martin

  • Darden Restaurants

  • AAA Motor Club

  • Orlando Chamber of Commerce

All are expected to join Disney in objecting to the threat by the Governor and the Legislature. They have pledged to memorialize all individuals making a decision and publish the names and their action within their property and all media. This disclosure is expected to be in place for five (5) years.

But there is more. Now local (primarily Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties) and state government must now pick up the on going maintenance costs born by Disney's Reedy Creek Special District. In addition, it has been reported that Reedy Creek have Bond obligations of over a $1 Billion. That funding may very well come with some strings attached, but the fact is both DeSantis and the GOP Central Florida Legislators just passed a forever mega tax on their constituents primarily for the benefit of Disney. It is like a boomerang.

Some would say that is pretty expensive extortion Governor.


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