Reedy Creek: Internal investigation still unavailable to support claims of money wasted on DEI

REEDY CREEK, Fla. — It was back in August when the newly appointed district administrator announced the abolition of all diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.


Administrator Glenn Gilzean said an internal investigation found that the former district run by Disney discriminated against Americans based on gender and race, costing taxpayers millions.

To be clear, the taxpayers in Reedy Creek are mostly Disney.

But what needs to be clarified is how much the CFTOD is saving now that there is no longer a push to find minority-owned businesses.

Channel 9 investigates found that although it says the district went through thousands of documents, we only received 11 to back up the claims.

WATCH: Gov. DeSantis addresses state’s stance on COVID-19 mandates

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District sent a press release on Aug. 1.

In that news release, the board talks about an internal investigation that claimed the old board, the Reedy Creek Improvement, discriminated against Americans based on gender and race because of its DEI programs.

It claimed that the programs considered minority-owned businesses for contracts that cost taxpayers millions.

But when we asked for details as to where those numbers came from, the board didn’t have much of an answer.

Read: How much hotel tax revenue Epic Universe theme park may help generate

District Administration Glen Gilzean is quoted saying, “that the DEI initiatives were advanced during the tenure of the previous board calling them “illegal and simply un-American.” The release says, “Our district will no longer participate in any attempt to divide us by race or advance the notion that we are not created equal.”

It claimed the former district paid millions of dollars more to find businesses that could comply with diversity, equity, and inclusion.

But when we asked for the investigation cited in the public release, we received this memo instead.

The memo says that the old board, Reedy Creek, appeared to have preferred businesses based on the owner’s race.

Read: Monique Worrell says her suspension as state attorney is unconstitutional

Also, there appeared to be a quota, but no documents were attached showing what those quotas were or who received preferential treatment.

The memo also says that Reedy Creek paid a premium to contract those businesses, but no documents detailing the money spent were given. Instead, we got only an e-mail from the chief of public works to procurement, who had concerns back in December, saying that the subsidies were perhaps in the magnitude of millions and called the program a slippery slope.

But still, no financial documents were provided to support the claims about Disney and the Reedy Creek improvement district.

Our request for more documents and answers is still under review with CFTOD.

Read: ‘Right to rock’: Florida legislator seeks to ensure freedom of speech of performing artists

Click here to download our free news, weather and smart TV apps. And click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.