This Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis threatened to construct a state prison adjacent to Walt Disney World as retaliation for the company’s attempt to circumvent his oversight board’s authority.
The Republican Governor escalated his war against the Magic Kingdom by announcing that the state legislature his party controls would invalidate Disney’s legal maneuver, which effectively divested his new oversight board of its authority over the company.
This year, Disney executives believed they had outmaneuvered Florida’s Republican Governor, Ron DeSantis, after a last-minute agreement with local officials granted the theme park virtually unlimited development authority. However, according to sources cited by The Federalist, Disney’s corporate attorneys overlooked the fine print in the Florida law governing tourist districts.
In February, Reedy Creek Improvement District supervisors signed a last-minute resolution to grant Disney complete control over 27,000 acres in central Florida. The last-minute agreement rendered the DeSantis-appointed board members on the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board incapable of governing Disney in their home state.
At a meeting on February 27, Ron Peri, one of the board members who the Governor appointed, stated that the agreement essentially makes Disney the government. The board created by the Governor loses most of its ability to do anything beyond the road and fundamental infrastructure maintenance.
At the beginning of April, DeSantis ordered an investigation into Disney’s last-minute power grab. A source with knowledge of the investigation disclosed to The Federalist that Disney omitted crucial steps when amending its development agreement, rendering it invalid.
In this case, the Reedy Creek board must follow three steps when modifying a special district agreement per Florida law, such as the one granting Disney quasi-governmental status. They must hold two public hearings, publish notice of those hearings in a local newspaper, and mail notice to “all affected property owners before the first public hearing.”
Disney stated in a statement to the Associated Press that the agreements were made in public.
Disney stated that agreements signed between the company and the District were appropriate and discussed and approved openly in public forums per Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Law.
The first hearing was conducted on January 25 and the second on February 8. The organization advertised the event in the Orlando Sentinel. Nevertheless, according to sources familiar with Disney’s proceedings, the final requirement of Florida law, that all affected property owners be notified by mail, was completely ignored. Due to the missed deadline, the company would have to recommence the process for its eleventh-hour resolution to be legitimate.
The agreement avoided legislation signed by DeSantis last year that would have stripped Disney of its special self-governing privileges. Disney’s last-minute action resulted in a deluge of headlines ridiculing the Florida governor as a conservative moron who Mickey Mouse beat.
Here’s how Mickey Mouse outplayed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Tampa Bay Times editorial stated. Even former President Donald Trump ridiculed Florida’s Governor for being outplayed, outsmarted, and embarrassed by Mickey Mouse and Disney. On the internet, memes of the Governor’s war against Disney circulated on a variety of online forums.
However, the Governor may have the last chuckle in a dispute that began a year ago with Disney’s aggressive opposition to the Parental Rights in Education Act, which was incorrectly dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The bill prevents sexual orientation and gender identity issues from being discussed in kindergarten through third grade. At the same time, an audio of Disney employees boasting about their “not-so-secret gay agenda” surfaced.
Disney believes the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, also known as Florida’s HB 1557 (Parental Rights in Education Act), should never have been signed into law. Disney stated that the company’s objective was to repeal the legislation or have it struck down by the courts. Disney even went so far as to say it would continue to support the national and state organizations working toward that end.
Disney’s activism, according to DeSantis, “crossed the line.”
To prevent Mickey, Minnie, and company from living happily ever after, he has pledged additional crackdowns to be implemented in the following weeks. The war between the Governor and the mouse is still in full swing. Who will win, the Governor fighting to protect children or the greedy corporate mouse and his kingdom?