Central Florida Tourism Oversight District hired ethics board member for 911 service contract

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — When Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida legislature targeted Walt Disney World, they said it was to bring in some accountability. The governor hand-picked a new board to oversee the land, but a no-bid deal by the new board raises questions about exactly who is getting paid and how.


Glen Gilzean, who resigned from the Florida Commission on Ethics to keep his $400,000 a year job as the head of the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District overseeing Disney, discussed a new system he said will improve 911 calls and response times.

“The district is investing a million dollars for a new communication network and completely separating from the Walt Disney World system,” Gilzean said.

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And that million-dollar investment will go to Freddie Figgers, a ethics commission member where Gilzean worked just two months ago.

Channel 9 told you in late August that Gilzean resigned from the Commission on Ethics because it was illegal for him to hold both jobs. Figgers was appointed to the ethics commission in July. According to emails, district employees reached out to Figgers as the CEO of Figgers communication consulting firm for his services in early August. Then, less than a week later, a contract was sent over for approval and the deal was done without open bids from other companies. The district said that’s because Figgers communication was able to commit within the compressed timeframe for this important migration of 911 wireless calls.

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The district did not accept our invitation for an interview on the deal, but when we asked a spokesperson if his price was fair, we were told when it comes to public safety the district says it looks at qualifications and experience to pick a firm.

As for Figgers, his media team provided a statement that read in part: “This new architecture will enable all wireless emergency calls to be directly routed to the district’s 911 system, significantly reducing response times and potentially saving lives.”

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Figger’s people said the contract will be substantially less than a million dollars but haven’t given us a figure yet.

Two days after our story the CFTOD sent us new information saying that Figures will get paid $242,500 for the first phase of the 911 contract. Adding that, this first phase job, they say is “aligning with the market value and encompassing the budget for phase one. They say phase 2 will be a separate phase, and tell us, “We intend to initiate a request for proposal (RFP) process for its completion. It’s important to understand that there is no guarantee that Mr. Figgers will secure the bid for phase 2.”

The company that was in line to be awarded up to 1 million dollars for the 911 system has asked that his that the job now go out for bid.

The district says 911 calls at the district were being rerouted through Orange County and causing delays in response times, sending a letter to the district saying, “We kindly request that District officials consider opening the contract for an open bidding process. This will address any concerns regarding the contract and ensure that the District can procure the best value for its taxpayers. We welcome the opportunity for an open bidding process and are confident that it will reveal that our proposal to implement the 911 wireless and VOIP emergency services was very reasonable, with no intention of taking advantage of the District.”

We will keep you posted when that bid comes out.

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Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.