Disney Says Central Florida Tourism Oversight District is ‘Plagued by Chaos and Upheaval’ in New Filing

Shannen Ace

Central Florida Tourism Oversight District CFTOD logo

Disney Says Central Florida Tourism Oversight District is ‘Plagued by Chaos and Upheaval’ in New Filing

Disney has filed a new Motion for Injunctive Relief in which they say the first year of Governor DeSantis’ Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) has been “plagued by chaos and upheaval.”

Disney Says CFTOD is ‘Plagued by Chaos and Upheaval’

Ron DeSantis in front of Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World

The motion comes amid Disney’s lawsuit against the CFTOD claiming the District has not complied with Florida’s public records laws, failing to hand over documents Disney has requested in the District’s lawsuit against them.

Disney notes over 30 employees have quit their jobs at the District and cites a recent deposition with public records administrator Erin O’Donnell to say the “rapid turnover shows no signs of slowing down.” O’Donnell admitted in her deposition that morale was low and several employees had quit due to the board’s political motivations.

There is a very, very, very politically motivated board, and I know we try not to acknowledge that, but that is a huge reason why a lot of people are leaving. Other people may have had their own issues with leadership … but a lot of people have left just due to the entire shakeup of the district.”

Erin O’Donnell

Disney is worried that the employees who are quitting are “taking public records with them” because there are no District policies regarding employees having public records on personal devices. Disney says that when a public records request is filed, “it relies exclusively on [the District’s] employees and Board members to search their own accounts and devices to identify responsive records” and that the “pitfalls of relying on untrained and self-interested custodians to select their own responsive records are obvious.”

Regarding a specific request for documents held by District Chairman Martin Garcia, Disney says the District blamed “technological hurdles” for failing to produce the documents. When Disney asked for clarification, the District admitted Garcia “could not figure out how to screenshot” text messages.

Disney says that if the court doesn’t intervene, “even more public records may be irretrievably lost with each passing day.”

Disney asks the court to require the District make a full forensic image of the personal devices of all departing employees and Board members who may have used the devices in connection with official business; require CFTOD certify, in writing, that auto-delete functions on personal devices connected to official business are disabled; and prohibit employees and Board members from using external messaging applications that automatically delete messages.

This lawsuit is in addition to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District’s state suit against Disney and the federal lawsuit that was dismissed, although Disney filed an intent to appeal. The public records lawsuit set a June trial date. As part of the ongoing suit, Disney filed for protection of trade secrets and other confidential information.

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