Listen to this article DeSantis-Led Board’s Angry Response To Disney’s Legal Loss
Disney World has recently been in the news for stripping the powers of a board appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis to oversee its governance in Florida. The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District replaced the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which had allowed Disney to operate as its own self-governing authority in Florida for over 50 years. The board recently discovered an agreement signed between Disney and Reedy Creek on February 8 that grants control of the district’s development rights and special privileges to Disney, making it the de facto government.
Background to the Board’s Formation
Governor DeSantis restructured how Disney could operate in the Sunshine State following the company’s opposition to his “Don’t Say Gay” bill. This bill prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in certain grades at Florida schools, sparking a battle between conservatives and LGBTQ+ rights defenders. Republicans in over two dozen states are trying to stop gender-affirming care for minors and drag shows in front of youngsters, while critics argue that such measures are harming all LGBTQ+ people, particularly vulnerable youths, and depriving them of their rights.
Board Members React with Disappointment
The new board was brought in by DeSantis in February, but the five-member team recently discovered the agreement between Disney and Reedy Creek. Board member Ron Peri expressed disappointment at the revelation and said, “I cannot tell you the level of my disappointment in Disney. I thought so much better of them.” Another board member, Brian Aungst, added, “It’s a subversion of the will of the voters and the legislature and the governor. It completely circumvents the authority of this board to govern.” Bridget Ziegler, co-founder of conservative advocacy group Moms for Liberty and a board member, criticized the “arrogance of Disney” in a tweet, adding, “We won’t stand for this and we won’t back down. If unlawful actions were taken, this development agreement will be nullified.”
Disney Responds to Allegations
Disney World, however, maintains that all agreements signed between Disney and the district were appropriate and discussed in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida’s Government in the Sunshine law. A rare royal lives clause included in the agreement means that it could last for decades, remaining valid until “21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants” of King Charles III.
Legal Infirmities in the Agreement
DeSantis’ office released a statement expressing support for the board’s attempts to challenge the February 8 agreement. They also noted that an initial review suggests the agreements between Disney and Reedy Creek may have significant legal infirmities that would render the contracts void as a matter of law. The statement added that the new governor-appointed board had hired financial and legal firms to investigate Disney’s past behavior.
The board members were handpicked by Governor DeSantis to oversee the governance of Walt Disney World in Florida, but the recent agreement signed by Disney and Reedy Creek has stripped them of most of their powers.This agreement grants Disney control of the district’s development rights and special privileges, making it the de facto government. The board members have expressed disappointment and pledged to challenge the agreement, while Disney maintains that all agreements were appropriate and discussed in public forums. Those board has challenged the agreement, and DeSantis’ office has also noted potential legal infirmities in it. Nevertheless, the office continues to support the board’s efforts to challenge the agreement and address any potential issues.