The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Taxes

Gov. Ron DeSantis

Youtube Screenshot

When Disney spoke out against Florida’s blatantly anti-gay and anti-trans “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Gov. Ron DeSantis retaliated by ending the special tax/business arrangement that Disney has had in the Orlando area for 55 years. DeSantis’ act of revenge, according to some economists, will cause economic hardship for residents of Osceola County and Orange County — as those counties will have to absorb Disney’s bond debt and can expect to pay higher property taxes (possibly, 25 percent higher). And three residents of Central Florida have filed a lawsuit against the state because of the economic pain DeSantis is inflicting on them.

DeSantis is insisting that Disney will pay the bond debt, not property owners in Osceola County and Orange County. But the three Florida taxpayers who filed the lawsuit, one from Orange County and two from Osceola County, obviously don’t believe him. And their lawsuit challenges the Florida bill that was signed into law by DeSantis and ended the Reedy Creek Improvement District and dissolved Disney’s special tax/business arrangement with the Sunshine State.

“In a lawsuit filed in federal court,” ClickOrlando’s Christie Zizo reports in an article published on May 4, “the plaintiffs say the bill should be declared unconstitutional because it violates taxpayers’ federal constitutional rights, and say the bill will lead to ‘significant injury to taxpayers.’ (In April), the Florida Legislature passed a law dissolving six special districts in the state, including the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The RCID governs Disney property, handles utilities, fire and EMS services, writes permits and takes out bonds to finance infrastructure projects.”

Zizo adds, “The lawsuit cites media reports featuring experts and political officials who say RCID’s $1 billion to $2 billion in bond debt will have to be absorbed by local governments, along with the cost to maintain utilities, infrastructure and other services that the RCID provides the area. That could mean higher taxes for county residents without the approval of those residents, which the suit alleges is a violation of Florida’s taxpayer bill of rights.”

The lawsuit describes DeSantis’ actions against Disney as an act of revenge and specifically mentions the Parental Rights in Education Act of 2022, a.k.a. the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which will go into effect on July 1.

The lawsuit reads, “It is without question that defendant Governor DeSantis intended to punish Disney for a 1st Amendment protected ground of free speech. Defendant’s violation of Disney’s 1st Amendment rights, directly resulted in a violation of plaintiffs’ 14th Amendment rights to due process of law.”

DeSantis, who narrowly defeated Democratic nominee and former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in Florida’s 2018 gubernatorial race, is up for reelection in the 2022 midterms —and polling from the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Cherry Communications released in early April indicated that he is likely to be reelected. That poll found that in hypothetical head-to-head matchups, DeSantis enjoyed double-digit leads over his potential Democratic challengers, including Rep. Charlie Crist (a former Florida governor and ex-Republican), Florida Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried, and Florida State Sen. Annette Taddeo.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Former President Donald Trump

Former President Trump will still need to cough up $10,000 a day after a New York appellate rejected his request to stay a contempt of court ruling he incurred after failing to hand documents over for the state attorney general’s investigation of his company, the Trump Organization.

On April 25, Judge Arthur Engoron slapped a $10,000 per day fine on Trump after finding the former president in contempt of court for not turning over documents subpoenaed by the New York State Attorney General, Letitia James.

The timing of Judge Engoron's ruling suggests that Trump now owes upwards of $90,000 in fines, but it isn’t clear if the former president has paid any of it.

Trump’s attorneys asked the appellate court on Monday to pause the fine so that Trump could appeal Judge Engoron’s ruling. However, First Judicial Department Associate Justice Tanya Kennedy dismissed this request on Tuesday, stating that the full court will decide whether to pause the fine later in the month.

This legal blow comes days after Trump lawyer Alina Habba failed to convince Judge Engoron to pause Trump’s daily fine.

The judge rejected a two-paragraph affidavit filed by Habba that Trump didn’t have the documents requested by the state attorney general and, thus, shouldn’t have to pay the fine.

“Notably, [the affidavit] fails to state where he kept his files, how his files were stored in the regular course of business, who had access to such files, what, if any, the retention policy was for such files, and, importantly, where he believes such files are currently located,” Engoron wrote on Friday.

“I am surprised he doesn’t seem to have any documents. They’re all with the organization,” the judge added. “I will consider your request to terminate the fine, but if you don’t hear from me, the clock is still ticking.”

Habba slammed Engoron’s response in a statement, arguing that the judge “completely disregarded the detailed affidavits that demonstrate the meticulous efforts undertaken to effectuate this search” and has “improperly held my client in contempt for a violation that he did not commit,” according to NBC News.

Trump also had his say in a statement, where he labeled the New York courts “biased, unyielding, and totally unfair” and, once again, denounced Letitia James’ civil probe into his company’s business practices as “a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in history.”