The DeSantis-Disney puts political power into entertainment mode.

On 1 July 2022, SB 4-C, an amendment to Section 189.0311 that eliminates Disney’s special district status, will go into effect. According to the bill, the special district status terminates on 1 June 2023.

A special district status is where “a unit of local government is created for a special purpose, as opposed to a general purpose, which has jurisdiction to operate within a limited geographic boundary and is created by general law, special act, local ordinance, or by rule of the Governor and Cabinet.”

Why does Governor DeSantis support SB 4-C? Mr DeSantis reportedly has an issue with Disney’s alleged agenda to indoctrinate kids about sexuality via the media company’s programming.

SB 4-C states in part that “any independent special district established by a special act prior to the date of ratification of the Florida Constitution on November 5, 1968, and which was not reestablished, re-ratified, or otherwise reconstituted by a special act or general law after November 5, 1968, is dissolved effective June 1, 2023. An independent special district affected by this subsection may be reestablished on or after June 1, 2023, pursuant to the requirements and limitations of this chapter.”

The bill does something that Joe Biden and NATO have proved inept at in their prosecution of a response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The bill gives the State of Florida and Disney a way out, a backdoor. On the way to the back door, Disney can petition to reestablish its special district status. I suspect that reapplying versus relocating its resorts and parks would be a less expensive option. Meanwhile, as Covid-19 abates, Disney can use the box office success (it hopes) of its upcoming theatrical releases as a goodwill ambassador for the media firm and leverage those successes in reestablishing its special district status.

For DeSantis, the signing of the bill not only shores up his bona fides with his conservative base, but demonstrates the limit of corporate political power. There is an adage increasingly abandoned that corporations prefer avoid politics. More progressive perspectives are receiving voice in C-suites and boardrooms and that voice is supporting more progressive legislation. What Mr DeSantis and the conservatives in the Florida Legislature are doing is reminding corporations that they exist because public policy has turned economic management over to the private sector and that government can yank from corporations those charters and the privileges that come along with them.

Whether learning to manage political power from the private sector or the public sector perspective, always push the electorate’s emotional buttons and give each other an out. The private and public sector relationship is symbiotic and dependent on this give and take.

Alton Drew

24 April 2022

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