The next meeting of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) Board of Supervisors will be almost exclusively dedicated to a discussion of “Historical Issues” with the former Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID).
After the standard opening items, including reading the last meeting’s minutes, the meeting’s agenda includes one Management Report, followed by New Business. There are only two New Business items:
- Supplemental Performance Award Policy
- Discussion of Historical Issues Involving The Operation And Governance Of The District
After The Walt Disney Company formally denounced the Parental Rights in Education law (a.k.a. the “Don’t Say Gay” law) in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis began a campaign to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District. He ultimately took over the District instead, renaming it and appointing his own Board of Supervisors. The Board has repeatedly complained about the previous RCID operations, but it would seem the December 6 meeting will be dedicated to such a discussion.
Despite the current District’s assertion that there were significant issues with Reedy Creek, over 30 employees have quit since the takeover, many of whom had worked with RCID for years (some for decades). In exit surveys, they stated that the current workplace was “toxic,” the transition to the new Board had been “very negative,” the new leadership was “unqualified and incompetent.”
One employee wrote, “My experience with RCID was amazing. This has been the best place to work. There was an amazing culture and you could see the employees really, really happy. This changed when the new board and administration was appointed.”
The District replaced the Walt Disney World Annual Pass benefit for their employees with an annual stipend, calling the benefits a “scheme” and “handouts.” District firefighters said the decision was a “low blow” against them. Most employees have yet to receive the stipend.
The District’s Director of Communications, Chief of Human Resources, and more employees were recently fired. Earlier this year, the District abolished their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion contracting programs, with District Administrator Glen Gilzean, Jr. calling them “un-American.”
Gilzean replaced John Classe as District Administrator. DeSantis had appointed Gilzean to the Florida Commission on Ethics in 2019, then again in 2020 and in 2022. Gilzean remained a chairperson of the ethics commission after he was hired as District Administrator — until it was discovered having both positions violated the rules of the commission. He ultimately resigned from the Florida Commission on Ethics, choosing to keep his District salary of $400,000 per year.
The Board of Supervisors appointed by Governor DeSantis includes chairman Martin Garcia, vice chair Charbel Barakat, Briant Aungst Jr., Ron Peri, and Bridget Ziegler. Peri made headlines upon his appointment after CNN KFile uncovered him calling homosexuality “evil” and claiming it was caused by tap water. Ziegler is a co-founder of the right-wing Moms for Liberty.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District was established by the Reedy Creek Improvement Act (House Bill No. 486) in 1967. Florida State Senator Linda Stewart is preparing a bill to restore the former District.