Wednesday’s Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors meeting was almost completely dedicated to discussing “historical issues” with the former Reedy Creek Improvement District. The Board concluded that Governor DeSantis taking over the District was necessary.
The meeting package available on the District’s website includes this conclusion of the report:
As the foregoing analysis demonstrates, the governance of the District was in dire need of reform, and thus the Legislature was amply warranted in passing 2022 Florida Senate Bill 4C and 2023 Florida House Bill 9B. As a result of that legislation, the new District Administrator and the Board have undertaken a myriad of reforms, and the current governance structure is working well. Nevertheless, the Board reserves the right to make future recommendations as to additional structural changes that may be necessary to effectuate the complete reform of the District.
Chairman Martin Garcia called on Florida lawmakers to impose more new “reform” legislation on Walt Disney World property. Garcia called the 1967 Reedy Creek Improvement Act a “pandora’s box: a curse disguised in the form of a beautiful gift,” telling Florida lawmakers to “expel the curse” by reforming the District further.
There are many referenced in the audit, in terms of reforms, that should be welcomed on a bipartisan basis. Traffic solutions, schools, affordable housing… Who argues against that? Disney. So as the audit demonstrates, the District was indeed in dire need of reform. And thus, Legislature was aptly warranted in passing the new legislation this year to begin reforming the District. […] We look forward to working with other government officials to continue to reform the District to serve the public good.Martin Garcia
Disney quickly dismissed the report, stating it was “an exercise in revisionist history” that “does not change the fact that the CFTOD board was appointed by the governor to punish Disney for exercising its Constitutional right to free speech.”
Board member Bridget Ziegler was absent from Wednesday’s meeting after her husband was accused of sexual assault.
DeSantis took over the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), renamed it, and appointed his own board as retaliation against Disney ceasing political donations and denouncing the Parental Rights in Education bill penned by Ziegler.
State Senator Linda Stewart has written a bill to restore RCID. Six Republican lawmakers skipped or walked out of the meeting during which the bill was first supposed to be voted on, but claimed their absences were unrelated.