The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board (formerly the Reedy Creek Improvement District) held a meeting on April 26th, 2023, where they declared that agreements previously entered into by Disney and the former Reedy Creek Board were void.
This was apparently the final straw for Disney, who was primed and ready to file a federal lawsuit. The company has alleged that DeSantis has waged a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power” over them. And then, in a meeting on May 1st, the new District Board voted to sue Disney in state court — which was apparently news to the Florida governor.
Following the news of the recent lawsuit, the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board held a meeting on the morning of May 1st, 2023.
The May 1st meeting agenda had only one item, which read, “Board discussion and direction to litigation counsel and authorization to defend District officials sued in official capacities.” The meeting itself was fairly short, and there was one main result — the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board has announced its own lawsuit against Disney.
Chairman of the Board, Martin Garcia, said, “Since Disney sued us — yes, we didn’t sue Disney. Disney sued us. We ha[ve] no choice now but to respond. This is why we called today’s meeting, to authorize legal action in response to Disney’s federal lawsuit. This district will seek justice in state court here in central Florida where both it and Disney reside and do business. Yes, we’ll seek justice in our own backyard.”
Garcia continued, “And so with those comments, I’d like to make a motion to authorize a state court lawsuit to be filed by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts USA, Inc. and such other parties as may be needed to uphold and enforce the board’s April 26th, 2023 legislative findings relating to the February 8th, 2023 development agreement and declaration of restrictive covenants, and to have that litigation counsel defend the board of supervisors and the district administrator sued in their official capacities by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts USA, Inc. in federal court on April 26th, 2023.”
As of now, no lawsuit has actually been filed, and Disney has not yet commented on this announcement, but we’re keeping an eye out. In the meantime, Governor DeSantis shared his thoughts on the matter at length when asked about it at an event on May 1st.
“So first of all, no corporation is above the law and the people of this state. It is wrong for one corporation to basically corrupt the local government, run it as their own fiefdom, be exempt from laws, have all kinds of benefits that nobody else has…and yes, I mean, I think it’s been very disappointing to watch this particular company, what they’ve done by advocating things like the sexualization of children, very close relationship with the Chinese Communist Party…you know that’s all very problematic,” DeSantis said.
He continued, saying that “it’s a question about good governance,” and that Disney should not be able to govern themselves. According to him, that’s why Disney created the development agreements the new Board has declared invalid.
“So we had the debate…and now we’re implementing the will of the people. And for them to act like they have the ability to veto that basically is putting their thumb…is putting their thumb in the eye of the voters of the state,” DeSantis said.
But, he also claims to have no idea that the Board was planning on suing Disney. “…I think what the board is doing — and I didn’t know, I saw the report I didn’t know — that [the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors] were necessarily doing that, but I think what they’re going to do is just say here’s why it’s invalid.”
DeSantis also anticipates the Florida Legislature will pass a bill — which he has already committed to signing — that will revoke the development agreements “from the legislative perspective.”
“Basically, all [the Board] is trying to do is uphold the will of the people in terms of what we did to make sure that nobody’s governing themselves as a major corporation. I think that that’s where that will end up going and I think that that will be something that will be successful in terms of the state of Florida’s position on it because there’s just so much background law in our favor on this that they weren’t doing this stuff willy-nilly — they knew what they were doing,” said the governor.
You can watch the full speech here. This is a developing story, so check back with us for the latest news.
Read a Full Breakdown of DeSantis’ War on Disney Here
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The post Gov. Ron DeSantis Comments on New Reedy Creek Board’s Choice to Sue Disney first appeared on the disney food blog.