One of the lawyers for the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District’s Board of Supervisors claims Disney’s deal with the previous Reedy Creek Improvement District board violates state law.
During the board’s Wednesday meeting, they met with legal counsel, including David H. Thompson of Cooper & Kirk. Thompson said, “The bottom line is that Disney engaged in a caper worthy of Scrooge McDuck to try to evade Florida law.”
The development agreement between Disney and RCID was publicly advertised and approved in public meetings. But the new board’s lawyers say the RCID board did not properly notify affected property owners by mail of the development agreement, which is required by Florida statutes. There is no record of those notices being mailed.
“Disney’s efforts are riddled with illegality,” Thompson said, “and they will not withstand judicial scrutiny.”
The Florida state senate also just introduced legislation that would make Disney’s agreement void.
Central Florida attorney Jacob Schumer told Orlando Sentinel that voiding the development agreement would impair a contract, putting the state on shaky legal ground. But the new board could have a case if RCID didn’t provide notice to affected property owners.
“Significant case law out there basically says that if statutory notice requirements aren’t followed,” he said, “then the government action is void from the outset.”
Most of the affected property owners would be Disney and affiliates.
The board also discussed monetizing the district’s land and terminated the old Planning and Zoning Board.
A Lengthy Public Battle
DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company have been embroiled in a public feud now for over a year. DeSantis started this lengthy fight against the Walt Disney World Resort after the company’s previous CEO, Bob Chapek, spoke out against Florida’s controversial Parental Rights in Education bill, colloquially known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Starting with the takeover and renaming of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board is now staffed with members handpicked by DeSantis and aims to control how Walt Disney World Resort functions, builds, and maintains its infrastructure. One of these members is Ron Peri, known for calling homosexuality evil and claiming it is caused by drinking contaminated tap water.
DeSantis to Add State Inspections of Monorails and Rides
DeSantis claimed that Walt Disney World Resort is no longer “above the law,” and would be subject to state inspections of the Monorail and the attractions within the parks.
The Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson stated: “This legislation will allow my department to conduct inspections when someone is seriously injured on an amusement ride. Thankfully it doesn’t happen that often in Florida, but when it does we have the right to inspect and decide when it can safely reopen.”
While “all major theme parks” was mentioned during this discussion, they did not clarify if these measures would extend to other currently exempted properties, including Universal Orlando Resort or SeaWorld Orlando.
‘There’s a New Sheriff in Town’
These controlling measures are in regards to the February 8 agreement between Disney and the former Reedy Creek Board before Governor DeSantis placed the special administrative district under his own direct control. The deal, approved at meetings publicly announced in accordance with state law, essentially ensured an additional 30 years of relative status quo, allowing Disney similar guarantees the corporation had before the Governor signed the Reedy Creek takeover bill into law.
No More ‘Indoctrination’ From Disney
State House District 45 Representative Carolina Amesty also took to the podium to share her opinions and concerns. She greeted the audience with a proclamation to “let it be known, in this great nation, here, in the free state of Florida, it is ‘We the People,’ not ‘woke’ corporations.”
She went on to make the following comment regarding Disney’s leadership and recent business practices:
We all love Disney; however, you cannot indoctrinate our childrens [sic]. Instead, they have turned Disney into this corporate PR arm of a small group of extremists who want to indoctrinate our children with radical gender ideologies that have no basis in science, common sense, or basic human decency. They have pushed far-left narratives and lies about our great state and now they think that the rules don’t apply to them.Carolina Amesty
In addition to Amesty, several other local figures spoke in support of DeSantis’ plans and potential resolutions during the press conference.
Iger Amenable to Resolution
At this month’s annual Disney shareholder meeting, current CEO Bob Iger accused Gov. DeSantis of punishing Disney for exercising their right to free speech. “We love the state of Florida,” Iger said in addition, recalling the company’s many investments in the community over the years. He also expressed gratitude for previous cooperation alongside the Sunshine State’s elected government officials before stating that “any action that thwarts these efforts simply to retaliate is anti-business and anti-Florida.” Iger also announced the company’s plan to invest an additional $17 billion and create over 13,000 jobs in the State of Florida over the next ten years.
For the latest Disney Parks news and info, follow WDW News Today on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.