Central Florida Tourism Oversight District

Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Chairperson Attacks Disney Again Over Lawsuits And Alleges ‘Corporate Cronyism’

The chairperson of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, Martin Garcia, attacked Disney once again at the conclusion of a meeting of the district’s board on Wednesday night. In his remarks, Garcia said that the relationship between Disney and the former Reedy Creek Improvement District was nothing more than “corporate cronyism.” He also said that the lawsuit that Disney had brought against the district was simply a “repugnant publicity stunt.”

Garcia argued that Disney’s change in how it was approaching its lawsuit was because Disney was “conceding that it never should have filed the for federal positive action against this board in federal court.” In reality, Disney decided to focus the federal lawsuit on the First Ammendment issue and felt that the issue of the development agreement was also being heard at the state level in a separate lawsuit that was brought against the company by the district. Therefore, it was unnecessary to have the issue decided in both courts. If Disney were to win the federal case, it could make the state case completely moot be resetting the district back to its previous form before Governor DeSantis led efforts to dissolve and then replace the former Reedy Creek Improvement District.

It is clear that Garcia does not see things the same was as Disney and he said that he believes that the district will win the lawsuit that will determine the fate of the development agreement. The full statement can be read below:

The Walt Disney Corporation eliminated components of its own litigation against the Central Florida tourism oversight district in federal court. Those who have not been following this matter could be could be forgiven for not immediately grasping the import of Disney’s action. But that action in the legal world constitutes, if not an earthquake, at least a major tremor. This was indeed an extraordinary concession on the part of Disney Disney backtrack, effectively conceding, conceding that it never should have filed the for federal positive action against this board in federal court. To be clear, and I want to be clear on this because I’ve spoken to this before.

The dispute between Disney and the board only involves contracts, contracts that the corporation Disney entered into with our predecessor, the Reedy Creek improvement district, as such, it has nothing to do with the dispute between Disney and governor Governor DeSantis over legislation. Disney knew full well that these are two independent matters, but having suddenly found itself on its heels this past spring, it desperately desired a national form to lash out and turn and drag this board in the federal court in Tallahassee. That decision was not only an insult to the people of Florida, but also to the taxpayers of this district, who are incurring the legal costs of that unnecessary battle. In retrospect, Disney’s retraction has proven a mockery of the legal system. It is a noteworthy event when lawyers voluntarily dismissed causes of action against defendants, which is what Disney did with respect to this board last week. In doing so, Disney has all been admitted. It knew that the federal charges against his board were bogus and more over that the filing of them constituted a publicity stunt, not to mention a repugnant one that took place at the expense of both the integrity of the legal system and of the economic interest of the taxpayers in this district. This board is also fully confident when all is said and done, the 11th hour agreements will fall by the same way side as their dismissed federal compliance.

It’s worth quickly reminding the public how we arrived at this point. Disney exploited the generosity of the people of Florida over the years through the 1967 Reedy Creek Improvement Act. What worked in the early years to spark economic development in Central Florida later proved to be an urban planning quagmire. With horrific governance practices.

A light was finally shined on the problem and Disney got caught. Disney used the 1967 act to establish footing in Central Florida to minimize if not eliminate all hurdles in its campaign to mow the district to serve the best interests of Disney Disney at the expense of the public. Good all along the way and seize control of the local government through a variety of unsavory means, politely and I say politely. The Reedy Creek improvement district could have been described as a quote, public private partnership close quote. In reality, in terms of scope and scale, it became one of the greatest examples of corporate cronyism in modern American history.

After the establishment of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District in April, this board has acted swiftly and effectively to make sure that the operations of the district are promoting the public good. One of our focuses has been to institute transparency and appropriate governance practices, which were sorely lacking in the governance of this district. By the old Reedy Creek board for more than half a century. We as a board are tremendously proud of what we have accomplished in a short period of time. And we are eager to continue our work on behalf of residents, employees, tourists, and all of our constituents to function as an independent government.

Martin Garcia – Chairperson of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board