With the passage of legislation stripping Disney of its self-governing status came a last-minute, underhanded attempt by the multinational corporation to undermine the changes.
Before the previous board was ushered out and replaced with a new state-appointed one, it moved to give Disney broad power to further develop land on the outskirts of the counties it resides in. That essentially preserved some of the self-governing power that the legislature had sought to end.
That left the mainstream press overjoyed. Get a load of this opening line from NBC News.
Forget about Disney princesses. Mickey Mouse might have just proved who’s the real king of Florida.
While Disney remained quiet on the matter for months, it seems the House of Mouse had been hatching a plan to retain its control over the land within the outer limits of Orange and Osceola counties.
On Feb. 8, the day before the Florida House voted to put DeSantis in charge, the previous Disney-allied board signed a long-lasting development agreement that drastically limits the control that can be exercised over the company and its district.
As part of a 30-year development agreement, Disney no longer needs board approval to build high-density projects or buildings of any height and can sell or assign development rights. It also bans the board from using Disney’s name or any of its characters.
DeSantis’ political opponents, namely some of Donald Trump’s paid influencers, also latched onto the development, asserting that the Florida governor had failed. To that I say, have they not been paying attention for the last four years? Or are they just being intentionally dishonest?
To start, who one may support for the 2024 presidential nomination is rather irrelevant when discussing this issue. With that said, DeSantis has built a long, successful track record of fighting and winning big fights. In many of those cases (i.e. the school mask mandate battle), he has had setbacks. Sometimes he’s had to go to court multiple times. In the end, though, he almost always comes out victorious.
Right on cue, he’s already formulated a plan to strike back at Disney.
BREAKING: @GovRonDeSantis orders investigation into potential civil and criminal violations of the previous @Disney Board of Supervisors.
The agreements the prior RCID board attempted to shove through at the 11th hour are likely invalid. pic.twitter.com/ixeOwIFCZr
— The Florida Standard (@theflstandard) April 3, 2023
DeSantis is accusing Disney of multiple legal violations, and has directed the inspector general to investigate and publish a report. From there, legal action will almost certainly follow, and the Florida governor will be on an extremely strong footing.
I don’t just mean that in terms of legal theories either, though those appear to be sound. Florida’s Supreme Court is now overwhelmingly conservative, and this will be a state-level issue that likely ends up there. In that case, a panel very friendly to DeSantis will be deciding the case.
Long story short, this war is nowhere near over, and I’d still be placing my money on the State of Florida to prevail. Anyone pretending that DeSantis was “owned” here is just playing politics. Disney was always going to try to use the old board to get its way before the new board came in. Now, they’ll have to defend possible violations of the law in front of a GOP-friendly Florida court system. Good luck to them because they’ll need it.
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