Orlando Newspaper Condemns DeSantis’s Actions In Disney Reedy Creek Battle

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Credit: Inside the Magic

The Florida Senate passed a bill officially handing Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District over to the state and Governor Ron DeSantis late last week. Now that the highly controversial bill has passed through both government bodies, it will head to DeSantis’s desk. Having led the charge against Walt Disney World Resort’s special privileges, the Republican governor is expected to sign it into law.

The State of Florida originally went after the Reedy Creek Improvement District in April 2022 when it passed a law dissolving the district. DeSantis promised to appoint a committee to operate the municipal services and formerly self-governed area in Central Florida that encompasses Walt Disney World Resort, which will now be called “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.”

Reedy Creek Fire Dept. truck in front EPCOT's Spaceship Earth at Disney World
Credit: Reedy Creek Fire Department

Legislators, representatives from The Walt Disney Company, and Central Florida Residents pushed back against the Reedy Creek dissolution. Some filed a lawsuit, accusing DeSantis of sticking taxpayers with a multimillion-dollar bill to get back at former Disney CEO Bob Chapek for speaking out against his Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

The deal is done, but critics continue to speak out. On Sunday, The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board published an official opinion calling the battle between Gov. DeSantis and Walt Disney World Resort a “mess.”

reedy creek disney honor guard
Credit: Reedy Creek Honor Guard via Facebook

“They may not have realized how dark a shadow they may have cast on Central Florida’s economic future — more on that later — but it seems pretty clear that none of that mattered,” the Board wrote of DeSantis and fellow lawmakers. “You see, the governor’s ego had been bruised, by tepid criticism from Disney’s then-CEO Bob Chapek, aimed at DeSantis’ hateful attacks on LGBTQ+ people. And though DeSantis loves to chant ‘freedom,’ he’s clearly established that freedom only covers himself and those who follow the same track.”

The Editorial Board argued that DeSantis had no idea the hassle he was creating for Florida lawmakers who fell in line behind him. “No matter how wrong-headed, how misleading, how petty, how potentially disastrous the governor’s latest vengeful whim may be, they trot under his whip,” they said.

“Over the past months, small hints seeped out of the administration’s increasingly panicky attempts to reconcile reality with the insane course DeSantis was insisting on.”

An employee wearing a face mask operates five security screens.
Credit: Reedy Creek Fire Department

The writers argued that the newly-passed bill was written “with all the uncertainty of a middle schooler” and called it a “train wreck.”

“Instead of abolishing the district, it leaves much of its authority intact, but shifts the power away from Disney by letting the governor appoint its board,” the Editorial Board wrote.

The Board also argued that while DeSantis claims the legislation won’t impact taxpayers, he can’t force judges and federal regulators to abide by his wishes. They also say that the conservative Governor is violating one of the United States’ core principles – no taxation without representation – by forcing the district to fund projects outside its borders.

Reedy Creek Fire Department building, which is bright red.
Credit: Reedy Creek Fire Department Website

Lastly, the Editorial Board warns of tax revenue loss as Walt Disney World Resort could cancel future Theme Park projects and push forward with promised layoffs.

“This move was reckless from the beginning. It soils Florida’s reputation as a good place to do business,” the Board concluded. “And it puts DeSantis’ own disregard for the rule of law in the national spotlight — especially since the mouse he intended to trample has yet to roar its response.”

What do you think of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s decision to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District? 

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