Thomas Knapp: Will Ron DeSantis’ Latest Mickey Mouse Political Tantrum Cost Him His Career?

On April 22, Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Put that way, it sounds rather routine, but it isn’t. DeSantis called a special session of the legislature  just to get this done. The only thing routine about it is that it’s an example of Rule Number One in Florida politics since 2018: Don’t publicly disagree with Ron DeSantis, or he’ll throw a tantrum and try to punish you.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District is, as you’ve probably heard by now, 38.5 square miles of land in Orange and Osceola Counties owned by the Walt Disney Company. In 1967, the man himself decided to build an amusement park in the area, but he wanted — and got — something in return: Self-governance.

Disney ran Reedy Creek as, essentially, its own polity. It taxed itself to build roads and provide services normally provided by government elsewhere.  And it largely got to do things its way instead of Tallahassee’s way.

As a result, the Orlando area became a global tourist mecca. Disney did well, of course, but so did the area’s other businesses and the two counties’ residents. Among other things, the population of the Orlando metro area grew from about 275,000 to more than two million over the 55 years of the district’s existence.

Then Disney said something Ron DeSantis didn’t like. Specifically, it condemned the state’s recently passed “parental rights” law, better known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law. And for that, DeSantis decided, Disney had to pay.

The move was also presumably politically calculating. Positioning himself as opposed to “woke” Disney couldn’t possibly hurt him with Florida’s Trump-addled Republican base, and Orange and Osceola counties voted for his Democratic opponent by huge margins in 2018 anyway. What could possibly go wrong?

The answer is: A lot.

From here on out, instead of taxing itself liberally to provide excellent public services, Disney will just fork over  taxes to the counties’ governments. Disney may actually end up paying more, but local residents are likely to get less for the money. After all, those governments aren’t used to doing the things that Disney’s been doing (and doing pretty well) for 55 years.

And Disney’s self-taxation subsidized lower property taxes for the counties’ residents, whose property taxes will likely go up by 20-25%.

Then there are the district’s bond obligations. With the passage of DeSantis’s revenge bill, those obligations — about $1 billion — are no longer Disney’s. They’re now owed by the county governments. The counties’ taxpayers will take it in the shorts yet again.

In 2018, DeSantis received 218,856 votes in Orange and Osceola Counties … and won the statewide gubernatorial election by only 32,463 votes.

Holding everything else constant, only 16,232 — 7.4% — of his 2018 voters in those two counties would have to change their minds in 2022 to send Ron DeSantis packing.

When the voters in the two counties see their new tax bills, revised upward  courtesy of DeSantis’s tantrum, they’re going to be mad. And they’re going to know who to be mad AT.

Messing with Mickey may have just ended DeSantis’s political career.


Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

54 thoughts on “Thomas Knapp: Will Ron DeSantis’ Latest Mickey Mouse Political Tantrum Cost Him His Career?

  1. SocraticGadfly

    Will this hurt DeSantis? At the state level, no more than Strangeabbott blocking the border in another silly stunt and causing hundreds of millions of dollars of produce to go bad.

    Seriously, Knapp, you think it actually will hurt him? I have some coffee for you to smell and wake up to.

  2. SocraticGadfly

    To look at this issue further, and Knapp’s looking back to 2018?

    1. DeSatan (sic) was not an incumbent then.
    2. 2018 was an anti-Trump referendum at state races as well as federal races level. 2022 will be an anti-Biden referendum.

    Also, while 2018 was close in Florida, about 0.4 percentage points, that’s not new. 2014 was an even 1 percentage point. 2010 was 1.2 points.

    Finally, as far as reflecting on the 2022 election? This was NOT an executive order. As Knapp himself notes, this was a bill signed by the Florida Lege.

  3. Austin Cassidy

    I wouldn’t dismiss this, SG. DeSantis may have stepped on a landmine here.

    Disney has *a lot* of employees, families of employees, and absurdly dedicated fans living in the state of Florida. Disney to Orlando is like Boeing+Amazon to Seattle.

    And I have a feeling that while the company might have ignored this race before, now they’d be more than fine giving $25 million to a PAC for Charlie Crist if it looks like that might put him over the top.

  4. Austin Cassidy

    I could be all wet on this, but I’m also wondering if some of DeSantis’ willingness to take on Disney so aggressively might be coming directly from Fox News leadership. Specifically, straight from Lachlan Murdoch.

    Rupert sold the family’s crown jewels (movie studios, production companies and other entertainment assets) to Disney a few years back, with the support of James (the “liberal brother”) and other family members.

    Lachlan is now the winner of the succession battle, but left to run a vastly shrunken enterprise that consists mostly of newspapers and cable news and sports networks. It’s far less Hollywood glamour than he’d hoped for and he might deeply resent Disney over their deal with his dad.

    Pure speculation, but it might explain why DeSantis felt so comfortable acting as the attack dog. And perhaps his pay-off will be Fox’s full-throated support as he heads to Iowa for 2024.

  5. SocraticGadfly

    Austin (and even more, Thomas):

    The real question, per the Miami Herald, is, is the bill unconstitutional? It’s an interesting argument. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article260682577.html

    As for the importance of Disney? No doubt. Question is, will there be THAT MUCH difference in the wallet for the typical Disney employee?

    Second … DisneyWorld isn’t a factory; it and its jobs can’t be shipped to Mexico, or to …. well, all the warmest weather Southern states except New Mexico are pretty much wingnut.

  6. Ed Johnson

    Why would the jurisdictional change cause a big hike in property taxes? I get that Orange and Osceola county governments will take on a lot of duties previously performed by Disney, but they will collect a lot of revenue previously kept by Disney to pay for it.

  7. Ron Paul Caesar

    Disney is trash. They haven’t made any good content in 25 years. They are now being exposed as pedophiles as Austin’s link reveals. They should pack up and leave Florida forever. Good riddance to bad rubbish!

  8. Austin Cassidy

    Ed —

    Disney maintains their public infrastructure at super high levels. Everything is sort of pristine. How exactly the county is going to go about assuming those duties is unclear, it’s also a little unclear what happens with the billion dollars of bond debt that the county will now assume. Servicing that debt will now fall to all taxpayers equally, not just the Disney district.

    https://www.npr.org/2022/04/22/1094316591/disney-world-desantis-florida-counties-taxes

    I still find it hard to believe that this will ever happen, despite the bill being signed. It doesn’t take effect for over a year and a lot can happen between now and then.

  9. Austin Cassidy

    RPC — Just to be clear, my link to that Fox News article was to demonstrate an example of what the right wing outlets are saying about Disney. I think this is all total garbage and Ron DeSantis is a disingenuous clown.

  10. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Why would the jurisdictional change cause a big hike in property taxes? I get that Orange and Osceola county governments will take on a lot of duties previously performed by Disney, but they will collect a lot of revenue previously kept by Disney to pay for it.”

    Disney “taxes” itself at a pretty high rate to maintain infrastructure around its park the way Disney wants it maintained.

    With the disappearance of the district, Disney just pays the same property taxes as everyone else — which means that either the infrastructure/public services decline in quality, or the tax burden shifts somewhat away from Disney and onto other taxpayers (probably both).

    And then there’s somewhere between $1 billion and $2 billion in bonds issued by the district. That debt was Disney’s. Now it becomes everyone else’s too.

    Basically, the district has been a “company town” for more than half a century.

    Many “company towns” are crap, because e.g. a coal mining company doesn’t care about the scenery, the safety of visitors to the area, etc. It just cares about having good enough roads to get the coal out, and if the employees live in shacks next to slag piles and retaining ponds, no biggie.

    But Disney’s business is making people want to visit its parks, stay in its hotels, etc. That means keeping the area safe, attractive, easily navigated, etc. Which was an expensive environment to build and will remain an expensive environment to maintain.

  11. Don Grundmann

    It is refreshing to read the article and the previous comments as they illustrate very clearly the beyond total bankruptcy of the Libertarian Party and its perspectives; i.e.; KINDERGARTENERS ( thats KINDERGARTENERS you freaks!!!! ) are being taught ” sexual orientation ” in KINDERGARTEN!!!!!, much less 1st and 2nd grade!!! Bottom Line – the LGBT War Machine knows that they must shatter/break their child targets at the earliest possible age to successfully turn them into sodomites and lesbian man haters. Yes, they are GROOMING!!!/ATTACKING CHILDREN to be psychotic/broken at the earliest possible ages!!! And the response of the Libertarian Party – yawwwnnnnn.

    Here is a clue freaks – REAL parents, yes REAL!!!!, are not going to give a damn about ” higher taxes.” Instead they will fight to the death to defend their children from being ” groomed/cultivated into the psychotic LGBT Movement and, yes 1,000× AGENDA; i.e., ” plan ” for their total destruction.

    This is a War to the Death between Satanism/Humanism; i.e.; Death; and Christianity; i.e.; Life. The sodomite LGBT War Machine knows that it MUST shatter/destroy every child possible to achieve the goal of its Controllers – the elimination of Christianity from the United States ( and the entire world ). Killing the souls of children at the earliest possible ages; i.e.; grooming them for Death; is the singular goal behind the kindergarten attacks.

    And the Libertarian Party has triple zero objection to the monstrous LGBT attacks and War Against Children.

    Don J. Grundmann, D.C.
    Chairman, Constitution Party of California; a Party which will stand in defense of children and Humanity as a whole against the Satanic LGBT War Machine.

  12. SocraticGadfly

    Per Knapp’s last comment, but for reasons entirely unrelated to DeSatan’s motivation, in THAT sense, speaking as a leftist of some sort, getting rid of the Reedy Creek Improvement District’s a great thing. Getting rid of “company towns” in general is a great thing.

  13. Jared

    On one hand, I’m not comfortable with government officials retaliating against businesses for political speech and activism, however hypocritical they might be. On the other hand, Disney is a lobbying behemoth and the embodiment of megacorporate privilege. I have no objection in principle to ending some of their special treatment. On the third hand, I wouldn’t mind it if all private entities were afforded a similar relative autonomy.

    Concerning the Florida law itself, while the language probably needs to be cleaned up and narrowed down to answer legitimate concerns about overapplication, I have no issue with a rule that public schoolteachers may not introduce discussions of alternative sexuality, trans liberation, the evils of binary gender, etc. to prepubescent children in kindergarten and elementary school. That it would be taking place outside of sex ed makes it worse, not better, IMO.

  14. Joshua Fauver

    Looks like Disney and the LGBTQ Army must have got to Don as he has a psychotic breakdown here in the comments every other week it seems.

  15. Thomas L. Knapp

    For some reason I thought I’d heard that Don Grundman died several years ago. Glad to see he’s still around. I wish he had a bigger platform, though. Every time anyone hears him for the first time, that’s someone who’ll never vote for the “right wing” again.

    You make some good points regarding DeSantis being an incumbent and Florida shifting Republican, SocraticGadfly.

    I’m not sure that this November is going to be a referendum on Biden, though.

    Donald Trump is doing his best to make it a referendum on himself again nationally, and DeSantis is doing his best to make it a referendum on Trumpism in Florida.

    That’s going to drive turnout … and it’s going to drive it in the same direction it did in 2018, when DeSantis won by a razor-thin margin (a margin that Darcy Richardson more than covered on the Reform Party ticket, by the way — probably getting more voters to defect from the Democratic ballot line than the Republican ballot line in doing so).

    When I predicted that Trump would win Florida in 2016 (and everyone told me I was nuts), I did so on the basis of observing a sort of wildfire effect in rural north central Florida, and not a lot of enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton in deep blue Gainesville. Trump signs everywhere out in the country. Pickup trucks flying Trump flags, running up and down the rural two-lane highways.

    After 2020, there was a period when I was seeing “Stop the Steal” and “Trump 2024” signs out in the sticks. But that seems to be fading away. The voters who pushed Trump to victory twice and DeSantis once seem to be getting bored with it all. And even though the likely Democratic nominee (Crist) and the possible dark horse (Fried) are sad sacks, either one is going to bring a lot of money to the campaign to drive Democratic turnout.

    One reason that Crist lost to Scott in 2014 was that Libertarian Adrian Wyllie emphasized marijuana legalization and Crist didn’t come to Jesus on that until the last minute when he realized he was losing. This year, he or Fried will definitely be running on it, and it doesn’t look like there will be a Libertarian or Reform Party candidate to draw votes away from them.

    A lot of people are saying they don’t think Florida is a swing state anymore. I disagree. DeSantis MAY win re-election, but he’s not going to do so in a walk, and his own goal with Disney is probably going to cost him more votes than last time’s margin. Not just from Orange and Osceola Counties, either. Disney is probably already looking at ways to torpedo his re-election, and to replace the legislators who went against it (the latter maybe not until the next election cycle, but expect some GOP primary contests where someone suddenly turns up well-funded).

    I don’t think the national picture is as rosy for the Republicans as most people seem to think, either. I think the Democrats are reasonably likely to hold their current 50-seat plus Harris majority in the Senate, and may even gain a seat or two, because, once again, Trump is making this all about him and that’s hurting the GOP in two of the five “toss-up” states (Pennsylvania and Arizona) and may be moving a “leans Republican” state (Ohio) into “toss-up” territory.

  16. Robert Milnes

    Tom,
    This is IPR. You should be discussing Top Six./Level the playing field, not dem/rep crap.
    With that there are no toss up states.
    Or, they are ALL toss up states.

  17. robert capozzi

    This is a setback for the cause of global nonarchism or panarchism. From an aesthetic perspective, I’m not of fan of this move. I do wonder, however, whether this action is consistent with the rule of law. Was the initial Reedy Creek law was written in perpetuity.

  18. Robert Milnes

    Oh wow!
    Are Tom and Robert going to get into another debate about how many libertarians can dance on the head of a pin, or something like that?

  19. Ron Paul Caesar

    When are we going to discuss how obviously fake the William Stinglen death scene was?

  20. Austin Cassidy

    SG — Politically, it’s very stupid for the governor of Florida to be telling Disney’s 75k employees and their families that they’re all associated with a deviant or pedophiliac company. No one outside of the fringiest right-wingers actually believe this stuff, it’s just bad faith trolling.

    It’s stupid to try to make conservative old people who’ve retired to Orlando (and who love spending time with their grandchildren at the parks) choose between their Red Hats and their Mouse Ears.

    It’s bad politics. DeSantis gains very little support from this and he loses… something. How much? I’m not sure yet.

    A month ago I’d have put Charlie Crist’s chances of beating DeSantis at around 10-20%. The governor was on cruise control to re-election. Now? I’m far less certain.


    Crist has been on record for a while in favor of legalization of recreational marijuana, BTW.
    https://floridapolitics.com/archives/464875-charlie-crist-unveils-cannabis-legalization-expungement-plan/

  21. Robert Milnes

    But hey, hey, don’t get me wrong. I am not even thinking that they should get banned for that, off thread topic ramblings.
    Because logically, here we are in this thread discussing dem and rep stuff, which is ON TOPIC!
    It’s just that the dem and rep stuff is supposed to be off topic in the first place,
    And I am not saying you guys re wrong. Quite the contrary you seem at least as knowledgeable as me about dems and reps. But I at least try to keep it out of here, the IPR place.
    And the William Stinglen death scene? It is comparable to the Robert E. Milnes open coffin scene. Is that his earthly remains there as the powers that be say it is? The same powers that be that I, for one, do not trust as far as I can throw it. Idk. How about some proof? An examination under reliable circumstances?

  22. Robert Milnes

    Austin,
    This is outrageous.
    Comments almost non existent.
    Because this use of my Uncle Bill’s name like this is clearly paulie attacking me by planting the name in BAN comments then linking it here. Does everyone here see that? Is there any doubt?
    Further, does everyone here see that if we can avoid the temptation to talk about the dems and reps, the main thing left is to get it together to try to win some elections. Via Top Six. We can control our own destiny.
    We can do that without further legislation, Court cases initiatives, RCV etc.
    The dems and reps will get on all ballots. We know that. The Libs usually do or get pretty close. The Greens usually get in the 40’s. They could use a boost.
    That leaves just two. Constitution and some sort of aggregate centrist party. Reform/Alliance/Unity.
    Get these six on most, preferably all ballots and the polling will level out to low double digits.
    That would solve the debates/CPD problem. There would be six nominees at or over 15%, maybe more (Independents)

  23. Hmmmm

    Austin, please remove all the trash comments immediately. Trash comments are ones that are not about Ewa Sonnet and her big breasts. Those are the only things worth talking about. Clearly everything else is trash.

  24. Robert Milnes

    Who might be against Top Six? Fair and representative elections in America?
    The democrats and republicans of course.
    The fossil fuel industry.
    Israel.

  25. Ron Paul Caesar

    I support it. Should we set up a press conference where we can announce it?

  26. From Der Sidelines

    To answer Knapp’s title question: No.

    Milnes still hasn’t gotten a date.

    And Grundmann still hasn’t gotten a clue.

    We now return you to reality, which ain’t in IPR.

  27. Ron Paul Caesar

    I too want Milnes to set a date for his press conference. We need to educate the American people about PLAS, Top Six, and Bowers.

  28. Ron Paul Caesar

    You both are devoted fans. While you are devoted to big titty models like Ewa, Milnes is devoted to news girls like Deborah Knapp.

  29. Robert Milnes

    RPC,
    I do not think From Der Sidelines meant that kind of date. A press conference.
    That brings up the whole Incel issue.
    Now, I would be interested in a press conference for Top Six.
    A Zoom with various activists, like Tom Knapp possibly.
    Along with press.
    Anyone -(Tom?)- interested?
    Yes news women are a natural fit for me, what with the tv surveillance thing.
    William Saturn wrote about three, Jillian Mele, Fox news NYC, Erica Von Tiehl, CBS affiliate in Philadelphia,
    Norah O’Donnell, former MS/NBC now CBS Evening News.
    Deborah Knapp, no known relation to Tom, was used by the FBI to entangle me in legal jeopardy back in 1985 in Philadelphia.
    So far no legal entanglements after her.
    Hey, I am somewhat a fan of large breasts. But most tv women do not have them. They would be too big of a distraction.

  30. Hmmmm

    Ewa Sonnet should do a tits out news show on a tube channel. It will be a great public service which would cause a lot of people to pay attention to current events who would otherwise not, and would give many people yet more reasons to focus on Ewa Sonnet’s big breasteses, which I very, very firmly believe are the solution to most if not all of our otherwise intractable problems.

  31. Daemon Sims

    Again. I didn’t harass her or any woman on Twitter. No woman that I know of ever blocked my account or asked me to stop contacting them.

    Your comment about Angela White and Australian Sex Party reminds me of an edit my mate made to the wikipedia page “Politician”. He added an image of Angela to the page to represent a politician. It was immediately reversed and he was blocked forever. Talk about an overreaction!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Politician&oldid=972619797

  32. Drew

    My research shows that the Australian Sex Party is not really defunct, but has rebranded itself as the Reason Party. Wikipedia says they merged with something called the Cyclists Party to form Reason Australia, but the new party has the same leadership and policies as the Sex Party. It’s not clear what if anything the Cyclist Party added to the mix.

    I agree that it seems very unfair that your friend was banned from editing wikipedia because he added a photo of an actual politician to an article about politicians. That seems to me to be a clear cut example of breastist discrimination of the worst sort.

  33. Drew

    “Ewa Sonnet should do a tits out news show on a tube channel. It will be a great public service which would cause a lot of people to pay attention to current events who would otherwise not, and would give many people yet more reasons to focus on Ewa Sonnet’s big breasteses, which I very, very firmly believe are the solution to most if not all of our otherwise intractable problems.”

    I’m 16 and I believe this would help a lot of people in my generation learn about the news and current affairs. It would have to be some place like pornhub because youtube won’t let us watch it though. I don’t know what they think will happen to us if we see tits on youtube. We see them all the time in real life and on sex tube sites which don’t ask anyone’s age, and most of us send and trade nude selfies including most of the girls we know.

  34. Robert Milnes

    I believe one if not all the morons who posted on this thread is paulie.
    Tom, Austin, Socratic Gadfly you did not help much. By making the topic a mostly dem-rep issue and persons, you drag IPR down to the morons’ level.
    Paulie’s mission is to subvert Top Six etc.; To trash IPR a perfectly acceptable tactic.
    With Warren Solomon IPR was literally owned by Zionist Israel. I think Austin is trying, but The ZOG is very powerful. IPR is still owned by The ZOG. Just a little less directly and obviously.
    Adopting BDS by IPR would be a step in the right direction. Austin.
    And get rid of the trash, will you?

  35. Robert Milnes

    Has IPR adopted a BDS policy? I assumed not.
    The aforementioned morons include Nathan Norman, Ron Paul Caesar, Hmmmm, Daemon Sims, Drew.
    Of course I recognize RPC as a newcomer.
    Socratic Gadfly is a johnny come lately.
    Gene Berkman been around forever.
    From der sidelines, been around.
    paulie has to play his comments like cards.
    Drew would be a trump card -as in pinocle.
    We seek the youth commenters, so nobody is going to challenge him.
    Where is New Federalist? William Saturn/paulie?
    And whatever happened to Jill Pyeatt?

  36. NewFederalist

    I’m still around. I lurk and read most of the articles but when a thread degenerates into a sexual or scatilogical morass I don’t comment. There’s nothing to say in those instances.

  37. Robert Milnes

    NF,
    Would you say you are more of an LP or CP type?
    I wonder if paulie’s tactics actually work?
    Garbage and gaslight comments.
    I wonder if all those comments at BAN e.g. actually suppressed readership?
    We should ask Richard.
    I can say from personal experience that gaslight comments do not feel good.
    But beyond that, Idk. Affect behavior? Idk.
    Maybe paulie’s comments combined with mine suppress readership. Idk.
    IIrc, Tom Knapp in comments said he preferred paulie to me here at IPR. He said because paulie was so indispensable.
    Do you remember that? paulie said more than once that it was him or me at IPR. Actually in retrospect I kind of feel similarly. I admit that I do not do much in the way of actually putting out IPR, but if written contributions, especially if one counts comments, I contribute A LOT!
    William Saturn seemed interested in this sort of stuff.
    Is Saturn paulie? I think so.
    But again, like a lot of this stuff, I can’t prove it.
    It is VERY frustrating!

  38. Hmmmm

    It looks like maybe someone got confused and decided this must be the place for their own Mickey mouse political tantrums. Don’t they have their own blogs for that? Please remove all their garbage trash comments which have nothing to do with the only subjects worth discussing: Ewa Sonnet, Angela White, and other women with ginormous boobies.

    Happy mammary day, folks!

  39. NewFederalist

    Bob- I joined the LP in 1974. I have a membership card around here somewhere with Ed Cranes’ signature on it and a San Francisco address which was the party’s address back then. I admire many things about the CP but I have never been a member. There are many things about the GP I admire as well. I cannot say I am a right or left libertarian. I simply don’t believe that turning to government to solve problems is the correct first step. The government has the reverse Midas touch in my opinion.

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