DeSantis’ Reedy Creek board says Disney stripped its power

YES!   Those of us who followed Disney over the years have been struck by how quiet and seemingly accepting of the DeathSantis attempt to take over the company.   It is shocking because Disney lawyers are known to be tenacious and fierce against all opponents of Disney.    Now we know why.    While DeathSantis thought he was taking over Disney the company used the governor’s ego / ambition to get a 1.2 billion dollar tax relief now placed on the backs of the Florida taxpayers, and neutered DeathSantis attempt to take over.    Notice recently that Disney announced they are sponsoring / holding a very large conference on diversity and inclusion, something that DeathSantis says is illegal in the state of Florida for a company to do.    Disney is baiting DeathSantis to come after them.   As Ron just said, DeathSantis thinks he is a large shark in a big ocean, but in truth he is finding out he is only a goldfish in an ocean of sharks.   DeathSantis and his ideology driven handpicked board thought they were going to use Disney and its properties to force the right wing oppressive regressive agenda on the public.   Mermaids would be white again, no boys would be princesses, no princesses would be gay, all characters would be 1950s Leave it to Beaver stereotypes.    One last thing, I am tired of these right wing white Christian nationalists racists bigots claiming they are the majority and that they represent the will of the people.    They don’t, and they have not for a very long time.   That is why they are fighting so hard this last stand to return the country to when they were happy and in control.    They are a minority within a small minority.     Hugs

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ handpicked board overseeing Disney World’s government services is gearing up for a potential legal battle over a 30-year development agreement they say effectively renders them powerless to manage the entertainment giant’s future growth in Central Florida.

Ahead of an expected state takeover, the Walt Disney Co. quietly pushed through the pact and restrictive covenants that would tie the hands of future board members for decades, according to a legal presentation by the district’s lawyers on Wednesday.

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District’s new Board of Supervisors voted to bring in outside legal firepower to examine the agreement, including a conservative Washington, D.C., law firm that has defended several of DeSantis’ culture war priorities.

“We’re going to have to deal with it and correct it,” board member Brian Aungst Jr. said. “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.”


Disney defended its actions.

“All agreements signed between Disney and the district were appropriate and were discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida’s Government in the Sunshine law,” an unsigned company statement read.

Taryn Fenske, a DeSantis spokeswoman, called the move “last-ditch efforts” to transfer “rights and authorities” from the district to Disney.

“An initial review suggests these agreements may have significant legal infirmities that would render the contracts void as a matter of law,” Fenske said in a prepared statement. “We are pleased the new governor-appointed board retained multiple financial and legal firms to conduct audits and investigate Disney’s past behavior.”

The previous board, which was known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District and controlled by Disney, approved the agreement on Feb. 8, the day before the Florida House voted to put the governor in charge.

Board members held a public meeting that day but spent little time discussing the document before unanimously approving it in a brief meeting.

DeSantis replaced those Disney-allied board members with five Republicans on Feb. 27, who discovered the binding agreement the previous board approved.

DeSantis and Disney clashed over the corporation’s opposition to what critics call the “don’t say gay” law, which limits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools.

The new DeSantis-aligned board expressed dismay over the previous board’s actions.

“This essentially makes Disney the government,” board member Ron Peri said. “This board loses, for practical purposes, the majority of its ability to do anything beyond maintain the roads and maintain basic infrastructure.”

Among other things, a “declaration of restrictive covenants” spells out that the district is barred from using the Disney name without the corporation’s approval or “fanciful characters such as Mickey Mouse.”

That declaration is valid until “21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, king of England living as of the date of this declaration,” if it is deemed to violate rules against perpetuity, according to the document.

A development agreement allows Disney to build projects at the highest density and the right to sell or assign those development rights to other district landowners without the board having any say, according to the presentation by the district’s new special legal counsel.

Disney and its affiliates own the vast majority of the land in the district, and other companies have operated there with the corporation’s blessing.

The development agreement bars the board from regulating the height of buildings, which would be solely under the purview of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The previous board also agreed to give Disney vast authority over its own buildings, according to its declaration. The agreement states that Disney must review any exterior changes to the district’s buildings to ensure consistent “theming” with Disney World.

Aungst said he is hopeful Disney will work with the board and correct the agreement in a “very collaborative manner.”

But board members also approved hiring four outside law firms with Chairman Martin Garcia citing a need for “lawyers that have extensive experience in dealing with protracted litigation against Fortune 500 companies.”

One of those firms is Cooper & Kirk, which has gotten more than $2.8 million in legal fees and contracts from the DeSantis administration to defend a controversial social media lawa ban on cruise ship COVID-19 “vaccine passport” requirements, and a restriction on felons seeking to vote.

Cooper & Kirk’s lawyers will bill $795 an hour, according to the firm’s engagement letter. The boutique firm’s roster of lawyers includes Adam Laxalt, who roomed with DeSantis when he was training at the Naval Justice School in 2005 and made an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate last year in Nevada.

The firm’s alumni include Republican U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

The board also approved bringing on Lawson Huck Gonzalez, a law firm that was launched earlier this year. One of its founders is Alan Lawson, a retired Florida Supreme Court justice.

The board approved two local firms as well — Nardella & Nardella and Waugh Grant.

Outside legal help is needed because of the vast resources Disney has at its disposal, Garcia said.

“What it looks like to me [is that] because Disney has the Magic Kingdom, they thought they could be king for a day,” he said.

And they thought this through very carefully. I’m sure they have other strategies up their sleeves too. I can’t see how they would allow themselves to be ‘supervised’ by unelected board members, in which they had no say of the choice. People and businesses should have a vote in who represents/controls their district, especially since Disney did nothing wrong in the management of the district that would warrant a state takeover. This will be tied up in the courts for a while, while Disney can strategize other legal options.

If Disney’s lawyers are worth their salaries, they will have long ago identified every conceivable legal threat to Disney, from the highest level to the lowest. And each possible threat will have been gamed out by those lawyers to find a response for each, a course of action likely to be successful. They will have started this long ago and kept it up to date.

They’ve probably been ready for an idiot like deSantis for at least twenty years.




3 thoughts on “DeSantis’ Reedy Creek board says Disney stripped its power

    1. Hello Jeff. I agree. Ron and both couldn’t understand how quiet Disney was being and how they just seemed to be accepting DeathSantis taking over their company. We knew they were very pro-LGBTQ+ and the company lawyers were known to be vicious and unrelenting. Now we know, Disney made this work for them, they got a 1.2 billion debt taken over by the state, they got road upkeep and repair taken over by the state. Basically they stuck the state of Florida with all the costs while keeping all the authority and rights for themselves. The mouse fucked DeathSantis and did not even use lube nor gave him a kiss or dinner. Hugs


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