‘Ugly middle school breakup:’ Orlando columnist explains fight between Disney, DeSantis

Scott Maxwell explains the impacts of Reedy Creek Improvement District dissolution

The man who deemed the recent fight between Disney and Florida politicians “like a really ugly middle school ugly middle school breakup” sat down to talk with Florida’s Fourth Estate hosts Ginger Gadsden and Matt Austin about the Reedy Creek Improvement District debacle.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The man who deemed the recent fight between Disney and Florida politicians “like a really ugly middle school breakup” sat down to talk with Florida’s Fourth Estate hosts Ginger Gadsden and Matt Austin about the Reedy Creek Improvement District debacle.

“(Disney and Florida politicians) were hot and heavy in this case for, like, five decades sort of each scratching each other’s back and then all of a sudden you know Disney said, ‘Eh, we’re not so fond of this Don’t Say Gay bill, which they only said after a lot of pressure,” Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell said. “And then Disney, and this is really important in my mind and it gets overlooked, Disney also said we are going to stop giving you money, which Disney has given to politicians on both sides of the aisle for decades and as soon as that happened the politicians just went apoplectic.”

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He’s referring to politicians approving a bill that would dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

Maxwell, who has been covering Central Florida for years, calls it a rush job.

“Part of the problem here, Ginger, is that you have probably done more research into what Reedy Creek involves than the legislatures and the policymakers who abolished it,” Maxwell said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law in April. If nothing changes, the special district that has given Disney space to self-govern for decades would go away in 2023.

On Florida’s Fourth Estate, Maxwell discusses what getting rid of that district could mean for Disney.

“There are some people who say, ‘Well, Disney is going to disintegrate and problems will happen if they don’t have these powers.’ I think that’s a bunch of horse hockey,” Maxwell said. “If Disney doesn’t have its own government, you know what Disney will do? It will function just like every other company in the world that doesn’t operate its own government.”

You can listen to the Florida’s Fourth Estate podcast. Check out every episode of the podcast in the media player below:

Maxwell also discussed the impact on local taxpayers.

“Last we checked, there was something like a billion dollars worth of bond indebtedness that Disney has basically assumed right now via Reedy Creek, and if the state takes it over or if Orange County takes it over, that means taxpayers ultimately take it over and we still don’t have good answers on to who is going to be responsible for all of that,” he said.

Maxwell also goes on to talk about how all this plays into the DeSantis’ political aspirations on the latest episode of Florida’s Fourth Estate.

You can hear his analysis and get a breakdown of this political battle and the week’s most interesting stories in our state from hosts Matt Austin and Ginger Gadsden.

Watch your favorite podcast as it makes its on-air debut Saturday at 11:35 p.m. on News 6.


About the Author:

Tiffany produces the 4:30 p.m. newscast and has been with News 6 since January 2019. She also produces Florida's Fourth Estate podcast. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in radio/TV. Tiffany has lived in Central Florida since 2004 and has covered the Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman trials and several hurricanes.