The cat-and-mouse game between Gov. Ron DeSantis and Disney took another turn Wednesday when the so-called family entertainment giant sued the Florida governor for trying to exert control over the company’s theme parks in the Orlando area — confident that the agenda-driven media is in its corner, Disney has plenty of money for legal battles and little to lose.
Disney’s lawsuit accuses DeSantis of a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint,” claiming that the campaign “now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region and violates its constitutional rights,” according to The New York Times.
It’s ironic that DeSantis first turned his attention toward Disney after the company threatened to weaponize its vast powers in retaliation for the Florida legislature passing a parental rights bill that’s unpopular with certain Disney officials, such as former CEO Bob Chapek, who vowed to work to strike the law that banned sexual instruction in K-3 grades.
The media dishonestly portrays the Parental Rights in Education Act as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Disney’s latest move comes after a board appointed by Gov. DeSantis to oversee a special district created for Disney in the late 1960s voted to nullify two agreements giving Disney vast control over expansion at the 25,000-acre resort complex, the Times reported — the outgoing board controlled by Disney tried to pull a fast one on the way out the door with the agreements.
The lawsuit against the governor was filed minutes after the ruling, claiming “a targeted campaign of government retaliation,” the newspaper added.
More on that special district from the Times:
At the center of the fight between Mr. DeSantis and Disney is a special tax district that encompasses Disney World, which employs 75,000 people and attracts 50 million visitors annually. The district, created in 1967 southwest of Orlando, effectively turned the property into its own county, giving Disney unusual control over fire protection, policing, waste management, energy generation, road maintenance, bond issuance and development planning.
In February, lawmakers decided to allow the governor to appoint an oversight board for the district in an attempt to curtail the company’s autonomy. The state previously allowed Disney, Florida’s largest taxpayer, to select the board members.
The media pounced on the suspect agreements, rushing to claim that DeSantis was “outsmarted by a mouse” in a quest to step on any possibility of a 2024 presidential run.
Ever measured, DeSantis responded at an April 17 news conference, talking about taking a look at reappraising the value of the resort for property tax levies and developing nearby land.
“Maybe create a state park, maybe try to do more amusement parks — someone even said, like, maybe you need another state prison,” he quipped, which sent the same media into a frenzy.
Another prospect voiced was giving the state new authority over ride safety inspections at Disney World, including the company’s 15-mile monorail transportation system.
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