DeSantis ratchets up Disney fight
The governor of Florida has said that a board he has appointed will consider the possible uses for some undeveloped land owned by Disney. These uses include the possibility of a state park, workforce housing, or a prison.
In a new round of attacks against Walt Disney Co. Governor. Ron DeSantis announced Monday that he would revoke the changes made by the Reedy Creek Improvement District Board and increase state oversight over the theme park rides of Walt Disney Co.
DeSantis also said that his hand-picked Board to replace former Reedy Creek Leaders will consider the possibilities of using undeveloped Disney Land as a state park or workforce housing, and even a prison.
DeSantis stated that the group believed they could come up with some sort of agreement that would render all that we had done null and void, and give them control for eternity. "Well, this is not going to work." This is not going to work.
DeSantis’ appearance at the Reedy Creek Administration Building, in Lake Buena Vista on Monday was the latest in an escalating series of tensions between DeSantis’ and the entertainment company. The latter is a major source of revenue for the state.
Disney's opposition to a controversial law in the state that limits instruction in schools about sexual orientation or gender identity is at the root of tensions. DeSantis, along with Republican legislators, initially sought to dissolve Reedy Creek Improvement District. The state had created the district in the 1960s, and it gave Disney control of issues like land use, sewer services, and fire protection, normally handled by local government.
In February, however, the lawmakers passed a DeSantis backed bill which allowed DeSantis appoint five members to the Board of Supervisors of the district. The bill also renamed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.
Recently, the issue was reignited after it was revealed that DeSantis' board was not seated until DeSantis had been able to confirm his appointment.
DeSantis, in a press release released on Monday, said that the former board's "shady tactics" are "riddled with legal shortcomings," including failure to give required notices to owners of property.
Disney did not respond immediately to a comment request on Monday.
Disney CEO Bob Iger criticised DeSantis during a shareholders' meeting on April 3. He called his actions 'antibusiness and antiFlorida'.
Rep. Carolina Amesty of Windermere, a Republican who represents a district that includes Disney properties in Windermere, appeared Monday alongside DeSantis and said that it was time for Disney executives have a "sober discussion" to'retake the company away from radical ideologies which have hijacked' it.
Amesty stated that 'you're in business to entertain children and families'. Amesty said: 'You are not in the business to socially re-engineer or promote radical political ideologies.
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is expected to submit a proposal to legislative committees in the next few weeks that would require them to inspect Disney's rides and attractions. The Department currently inspects amusement park rides, but not rides in parks or facilities with more than 1,000 workers and full-time inspectors.
The state's response should not be based on where a person was injured. The rules should be the same for everyone,' said Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson, who was with DeSantis on Monday.
Simpson continued, 'This proposed change by the Legislature is logical'. As a farmer and businessman, I've endured unnecessary government interference and meaningless bureaucracy. One of the main reasons I ran for public office was to fight back. There is a legitimate government role in public safety and protection. This proposal strikes a balance that I think is important.
The changes are not expected to affect other large theme park in the state.
DeSantis said that it was'very critical' to have uniform application of laws. He added that the law would only apply to Disney.
DeSantis stated that 'these inspections will be necessary for amusement park within special districts'.
The newly appointed board will also consider other changes during a Wednesday meeting, including an examination of the debt repayment process and the role Disney can play with regards to workforce housing.
DeSantis stated that he expected to see many actions from the state board on Wednesday, and in the weeks following. DeSantis said, 'I think it's about making the vision a reality, where this company is under the law and follows the law. It pays taxes, honors its debts, and does not govern itself.