Report: More Than 30 Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Employees Quit

Edited: October 30, 2023, 6:52 PM

The online platform Substack features content from Jason Garcia ("Seeking Rents" - 10/29/23) that reports "More than 30 employees have resigned from the government district that oversees Walt Disney World amid claims of mismanagement under new leadership installed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis." According to the report, "The departures include nearly half the senior leadership team at the agency formerly known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District — including the district administrator, chief financial officer, building official, fire chief and district clerk."

He continues: "Department heads in charge of public works, procurement and facilities have also left. So have key managers involved with everything from employee training to fleet maintenance to fisheries management ... One former manager who spent more than 30 years with Reedy Creek wrote that DeSantis’ political appointees 'show a severe lack of trust for employees' and made his work 'uncomfortable,' 'stressful,' and 'demoralizing.' Another manager with more than 20 years at the district wrote that the transition has been 'very negative.' And a department director bluntly called the new leadership 'unqualified and incompetent'.

Mr. Garcia also (allegedly) gained access to several employee exit surveys, that paint a terrible picture.

One reportedly contended that District Administrator District Administrator Glenton “Glen” Gilzean "has no desire to learn about the good work that is done here nor does he have a desire to learn just what the District does."

Another: "With the departure of more than three dozen employees the District is no longer functional. Honesty and integrity are core values that no longer exist in the District."

Regarding Mr. Garcia (the reporter) his objectivity seems reasonably legit: "The (current) chaos at Reedy Creek stands out, though. Because this used to be the best-run government in central Florida. I say that as someone who once regularly attended Reedy Creek board meetings, back when I covered the Walt Disney Co. for the Orlando Sentinel. I wrote many stories about the district over the years — on everything from its sham elections to the ways Disney used it to duck certain taxes."

Replies (5)

Edited: October 30, 2023, 7:02 PM

The District's shortcomings also seem evident in the way the district is managing its social media footprint. Specifically, on Linkedin, the district has no problem publishing construction pictures taken on Disney construction sites -- an activity that Disney has long prohibited. As a government agency, taking pictures is likely a requirement to document construction progress. However, the photos on Linkedin did not appear to serve the purpose associated with inspections or code enforcement, but rather is framed like a PR tactic

Many of the posts on Linkedin feature the District bragging about various successful programs, a majority of which began with the RCID. In one post (two weeks ago), the social media minion put a spotlight on the District’s commitment to safety. The post brags “Our dedicated Building and Safety team is committed to ensuring that every development on district property complies with stringent safety standards.” This prompted a comment from a retired Walt Disney Imagineer who noted, “Reedy Creek Building and Safety has been doing that for over 30 plus years!”. The District’s boasts about a commitment to safety seemed suspect last July, when a student intern appeared in a posted photograph wearing sneakers (rather than proper work boots) on a construction site.

October 30, 2023, 10:17 PM

There are stories almost daily in every newspaper in Florida about Desantis' appointees being "unqualified and incompetent." From education, Universities, to public health, there are long paper trails of corruption and decrying of the candidates from actual experts. The FDA and CDC even called the Florida Surgeon General a hack.

October 30, 2023, 11:42 PM

Not good. This just opens the door for more sycophants to fill the ranks.

October 31, 2023, 10:37 AM

Blog Mickey: "Dozens of employees have resigned, some very high ranking. In total, the District has lost more than 350 years of experience following the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis takeover earlier this year. In conversations we have had with district employees at public meetings, it is clear that the morale of the District has been negatively impacted. In one exit survey, a former employee noted as much, saying that “…the morale and overall feeling of the District has taken a turn. Not a good one”.

November 8, 2023, 12:11 PM

And the beat goes on.

Blog Mickey (11/08/23): "In an October filing, Disney asked for a continuance of 75 days in its state-level court battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. Disney argued that the District was “dodging obligations” to produce documents that Disney needed to construct its case. Disney provided a timeline of missed deadlines from the District as it related to discovery in the case. Ahead of a court hearing, the District has filed a response in opposition to Disney’s request for a continuance. In the response, the District argues “no amount of discovery will make a difference” because the District says that it is asking for summary judgment on what it claims are undisputed violations of law."

Is there any doubt the district's administrative leaders are under orders?

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