Commissioner Bonilla who represents District 5 and won her seat in 2016 and again in 2020 seems to be making her mark as the commissioner who doesn’t have much depth for how a free economy works if one looks at some of the ideas she has brought forth for consideration. In fact, many of Bonilla’s proposals and support seem to be anti-business, including the proposed rent freeze for Orange County in 2020.
The rent freeze thankfully had little support from the rest of the commissioners, and ended with Bonilla tabling the discussion, much to her dismay. But it clearly shows that Bonilla isn’t a deep thinker of economics and is not a supporter of business, or the taxable dollars and employment that businesses bring to the county. The fallout from rent being denied to landlords would have resulted in a housing crisis of epic proportions in Orange County. The expectation that landlords have endless funds to support their renters and continue to pay for their property taxes, utilities, their own property mortgages, and property maintenance, with no money coming in from their renters, is simply absurd and shows a lack of understanding of basic high school level economics on the part of Bonilla.
Contention between Bonilla and the other commissioners isn’t anything new. At times, Bonilla seems almost childlike in her reactions to other leaders that don’t agree with her, almost consumed by her frustration that the other commissioners don’t support her. As a freshman, it seemed that the other commissioners were more tolerant of her behavior. But that tolerance seems to be wearing thin on the part of the other commissioners and Mayor Demings, who just recently had to take her to task for making a false statement regarding claims and inuendos that the City of Orlando leaders had voted to support her position regarding a retail pet sales consideration. The Mayor became irritated by her blustering and asked for more specifics, scolding her when it became clear that she was not telling the truth. Unapologetic, Bonilla at times doesn’t seem capable of understanding her shortcomings, misstatements, or the responsibility she has to speak from a position of truth without exaggeration or false narratives.
Bonilla’s lack of support for business seems to run deep. Recently Bonilla introduced an initiative to ban retail stores from selling pets to the public, in favor of non-profits which operate mainly with volunteers and produce no taxable income for the county. Since Orange County currently has more than a half dozen retailers that sell pets, that is a lot of tax dollars and jobs lost in the county, especially during a time that pet ownership has reached historic highs and jobs are needed by many due to layoffs in the tourism sector and its trickle-down effect from the pandemic.
And small businesses aren’t the only businesses Bonilla seems intent on burning. Bonilla fought against the much needed expansion of the Orange County Convention Center. The Center sees approximately 75 million dollars in yearly revenue and millions more from area hotels and restaurants as well as other tourism dollars, not to mention the jobs it brings to the area. In another instance, Bonilla placed herself in a position that would have a great impact on area developers. Home builders that bring in huge dollar amounts and thousands of jobs to the State say that higher impact fees supported by Bonilla would price Floridians out of the homeownership marketplace. State Representative Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-hills, said “Too many counties and cities in the state want to double impact fees overnight because two or three new people come on the city or county commission and they have a knee-jerk reaction”. Based upon Bonilla’s lack of support for County businesses and the negative impact her positions have on jobs, growth, and revenue in Orange County, her knee-jerk reactions need to be reined in. We can only hope that Mayor Demings and other more logical Commissioners will continue to push back on Bonilla when she needs a refresher course in basic economics to help the County support the businesses and the business owners that bring in tax dollars and jobs that Orange County needs to succeed.