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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To stay ahead of the regulator, be prepared to offer some TEA …

In my years serving on regulatory staffs, I always appreciated the industry liaison that presented a new product or explained their company’s position on public policy or a consumer complaint in the clearest and most cogent manner. These professionals were selling me TEA: Thought, Education, Advocacy.

The best advocates for any position are aware that they must paint a picture for the regulator that depicts how the position or product best serves the public, the regulator, and the company. In the public utility space, for example, an advocate has to make the argument that the regulator’s need to maintain balance between the company’s goal of a reasonable return and the consumer’s interest in reasonable prices and clear terms and conditions. When an advocate engages regulatory staff, the first words out of the advocate’s mouth, post the usual pleasantries, should reflect acknowledgment of this balance of stakeholder interests.

Keep in mind that while regulatory staff has a heavy docket, it doesn’t mean that staff wants to be led with fast talk. No staffer wants to feel like they are being sold on an idea or proposal even though the reality is the advocate is doing that. Remember, the staffer has to present your company’s position to other decision makers in the agency before your position gets approved. The TEA has to be served just right. Clarity has to be a priority.

Keep in mind that the staffer looks forward to being educated on what’s happening in the markets. The staffer’s ability to comprehend the information you present, combine the information with what he or she has learned on their own, and present information and insights to policymakers serves the staffer’s interest in growing their own expert power. This expert power can be leveraged by them when pursuing future opportunities within or outside their agency.

Presenting the best TEA also facilitates the advocates access to staff. Again, staff looks forward to the opportunity for further education and expert growth and is more than willing to listen to an advocate that is clear, concise, cogent. This is an exchange of ideas and insights; an opportunity to garner trust through transparency and clarity.

So, brew the TEA with the best ingredients of knowledge and serve it with clarity.

Alton Drew

14 April 2022