Florda-Disney controversy avoided ‘if Bob Iger ever was CEO’: DeSantis ally

Florida lawmakers are looking at ways to restore some of the privileges the state stripped away from Walt Disney Co., still significantly reduces the company’s interests without going so far as to end it all, a key lawmaker said.

Earlier this year, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law that by 2023 would dissolve a special government district that has benefited Disney far and wide for half a century, called Reedy Creek, unless the agency Legislative restoration of this area. The move was triggered by what the Republican governor saw as criticism of Disney over a law he signed that limits elementary school lectures on gender identity.

Sponsor of law cutting privileges of entertainment giant Florida, state Representative Randy Fine, said he was encouraged by the firing of Disney CEO Bob Chapek last month, who led the opposition to DeSantis’ so-called “Don’t Say Gay” laws. Fine said the discussions were supported by signs that returning Disney CEO Bob Iger would stay away from Florida politics.

“I think Mr. Iger said it might have been a misstep by the company and how they handled it,” Fine said in an interview. “I don’t think we would be in this situation if Bob Iger were CEO.”

The move pitted DeSantis against one of Florida’s biggest and most powerful employers, known for several iconic amusement parks in Orlando. DeSantis, who is widely believed to be plotting to run for president in 2024, has made the blow to Disney an important part of his so-called “anti-wake” agenda. The Florida governor has repeatedly vowed to hunt down corporations that oppose him in the culture wars over race, gender identity and abortion. Fighting what he called the “wake up” that was the cornerstone of his re-election campaign gave DeSantis one of the most resounding victories of any Republican in the midterm elections. United States period in November.

His lead spokesman said DeSantis would not “turn back” from the legislation he signed this year. Press secretary Bryan Griffin said in an emailed statement that the governor would not reverse pledges to remove “a special benefit for a company.” “A plan is in the works and will be announced soon.”

Iger left ‘everything silent’ in Florida

DeSantis said one goal is to ensure that Disney will be responsible for paying back nearly $1 billion in municipal bonds issued by the district. “We’re going to have a level playing field for businesses in Florida and the state certainly doesn’t have a particular preference for one company,” Griffin said. “Disney’s debts won’t fall on Florida taxpayers.”

A Disney spokesman declined to comment. During a recent conference hall meeting with Disney employees, Iger said, “Do I like the company being embroiled in controversy? Of course not.”

“It can be distracting and have a negative impact on the company. To the extent I can quiet things down, I will,” he said, adding that he is still “getting up to speed” on the situation with Reedy Creek and that he is not has all the details about the branching. about Florida’s decision.

Law of Substitution Reed Creek Fine said he would seek to strip benefits that no other company except Disney enjoys, and said he was engaged in discussions between lawmakers and the governor. Fine declined to comment on the details of the discussions or what privileges may be introduced after the new legislation is proposed in the legislature.

But he cited perks Disney has enjoyed, such as government-like power to acquire land through popular domain names and sell bonds. The Reedy Creek Tax District was established by the legislature in 1967 in an agreement that led to the construction of Disney World. It gives Disney autonomy over 25,000 acres, including overseeing its own building codes and permits, helping the company build faster.

“I think what you will probably see is some nonsense,” says Fine. “You know, it’s not going to be, ‘Oops, let’s go back to the way it was.’ You will see something significantly different.

Iger, in a wide-ranging meeting with employees, said he wouldn’t give up on making Disney a “good citizen of the world,” which is sometimes mistaken for a political one.

“I think there is a misunderstanding here about what politics is,” he explained. “I think some of the topics that have proven to be controversial because it involves Disney have been labeled politically, and I don’t necessarily believe they are.”

—With the support of Thomas Buckley

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