DeSantis Allies Vote to Nullify Disney’s Control of Florida Resort

A commission appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to oversee government services at Disney World on Wednesday voided two agreements that would have given The Walt Disney Company greater control over the expansion of its 25,000-acre resort complex. I voted to

The five-member board of directors said its general counsel, Daniel Langley, had called Disney’s “self-dealing” and “procedural disrespect” when it pushed the deal earlier this year. Langley and another commission attorney said Disney violated Florida law in multiple ways, including failing to give the public full notice of the actions it took. rice field.

“What they have created is an absolute legal mess,” Chairman of the Board Martin Garcia said of Disney at the conference. “It won’t work.”

Disney has yet to comment.

The revocation is the latest in a string of lawsuits against Disney by Mr. DeSantis and his supporters, and likely a legitimate spark. Disney, the state’s largest taxpayer, has signaled its willingness to fight any attempts to revoke the agreement, claiming it was done in accordance with Florida law. His one of the contracts gives Disney his 14,000 additional hotel rooms, a fifth themed his park, and the ability for him to build three smaller parks. The other restricts the use of adjacent land. For example, no strip clubs.

Disney pushed for an agreement in early February at a public meeting advertised at the Orlando Sentinel, as the Florida legislature sought ways to reduce the company’s autonomy at Mr. DeSantis’ request. Ultimately, Congress decided to allow governors to appoint oversight boards for special tax districts, including Disney World. I was.

When the appointees assumed office last month, they knew that the previous Disney-controlled board had approved development agreements and covenants that would limit the new board’s powers for decades to come. I was indignant.

The Republican presidential front-runner, DeSantis, has not officially announced his candidacy, but has responded with outrage. He suggested a range of possible punitive actions against Disney, including revaluing resorts for property tax collection and developing land near resort entrances. At a press conference on April 17, he said he “may make a state park, maybe try to make more amusement parks. Someone said we might need another state prison.” Told.

He also said efforts are underway to give states new authority over vehicle safety inspections at Disney World. 15 miles monorail A transit system carrying an estimated 150,000 passengers per day.

DeSantis and his supporters have repeatedly described their actions as simply putting Disney on a “level playing field” with other theme park operators in the state. they do the opposite. Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Legoland do not have governor-controlled oversight boards. Based on the governor’s comments, the state’s other large theme parks will not be subject to additional safety inspections, only Disney World.

DeSantis and Disney have been battling for more than a year over a special tax zone that includes Disney World, which employs 75,000 people and attracts 50 million visitors annually. Created in 1967 southwest of Orlando, the district effectively turned the property into its own county and gave Disney extraordinary powers for fire protection, police, waste management, energy generation, road maintenance, bond issuance, and development planning. gave management. (Florida has hundreds of similar special tax districts. One covers The Village, a huge senior citizen community northwest of Orlando. The other covers the Daytona International Speedway. and surrounding areas.)

Last year, under pressure from employees, Disney criticized a controversial Florida education law and suspended political donations in the state. Mr. DeSantis set in motion a plan to revoke Disney World’s autonomy privileges. increase. Opponents labeled it “Don’t call me gay”.The recent DeSantis administration expanded the ban up to grade 12.

Disney CEO Robert A. Iger called DeSantis’ actions “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.” Iger also suggests that future investments in Disney World could be jeopardized if governors continue to use Disney as a political punching bag. The company plans to spend more than $17 billion on resorts over the next decade, and this growth is expected to create an estimated 13,000 jobs at the company.

Disney paid and collected a total of $1.2 billion in state and local taxes in 2022, according to company disclosures.

“Companies have the same right to free speech as individuals,” Iger said at Disney’s annual shareholder meeting earlier this month. “The governor is very angry at the position Disney has taken and has decided to retaliate against us, including by appointing a new commission to oversee the facility, with the aim of punishing the company for exercising its constitutional rights. And it seems really wrong to me.”

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