Does our Flori-DUH Boy Governor "need a checkup from the neck up?" You tell me.
From Sarasota Herald-Tribune:
Ron DeSantis touts new bill to assert control over Disney, suggests building prison near resort
Seeking to have the last word in his ongoing feud with Disney and push back after the company appeared to outmaneuver him, Gov. Ron DeSantis traveled to the outskirts of Disney World Monday to announce legislation aimed at re-exerting state control over the property and even suggested a prison could be built nearby.
DeSantis mentioned the idea of building a prison on land owned by the state-controlled special district governing Disney's properties during a press conference that touched on a range of potential next moves by his administration in the escalating conflict with an iconic Florida company.
It's the latest chapter in a remarkable saga that has helped define DeSantis' culture warrior image, pitting the governor against a company synonymous with Florida tourism.
DeSantis has slammed Disney for being too "woke" after the company opposed his Parental Rights in Education Act, dubbed by critics the "Don't Say Gay Bill."
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The governor, who is expected to announce a run for president in the coming weeks, pushed through legislation last year taking away Disney's self-governing status in Florida. The legislation gives the state oversight over the company's Central Florida properties, but in a surprise move Disney found a way to nullify the state's authority shortly before the new law took effect.
Now DeSantis wants to overturn Disney's efforts to slip out of state control, accusing the company of doing "special deals" that “would essentially render everything that we did null and void.”
Disney secured development agreements that give it control of development rights on its properties for many years to come, circumventing the state oversight board appointed by DeSantis. A statement by Disney said the transaction was above-board, properly noticed and done at a public meeting in the Sunshine.
DeSantis said Monday that Florida lawmakers will unveil legislation next week that ensures "the agreements purported to be entered into by Disney are revoked."
In addition to repealing the development agreements between Disney and its oversight board, the new legislation is expected to give state inspectors oversight over Disney's rides, ending a carveout that exempted the company from state inspections.
DeSantis also floated a number of other actions that his state oversight board could take that Disney may not like.
The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which governs Disney's properties and is controlled by DeSantis, owns property next to Disney's resorts. The governor said these properties could be developed, noting it was suggested the state could build a new prison.
"People are like: 'What should we do with this land?" DeSantis said, adding "People have said maybe create a state park, maybe try to do more amusements parks, someone even said, like, maybe you need another state prison. Who knows? I just think that the possibilities are endless, so that is now going be analyzed to see what would make the most sense."
The governor's comments about building a prison near Disney's theme parks drew immediate criticism.
"Ron DeSantis just threatened to build a state prison next to Disney World," said Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried. "All because they don’t hate gay people."
DeSantis also suggested Disney's properties could be appraised at a higher value, forcing the company to pay more in taxes, and a utility that serves the company's properties could be sold.
“If you’re undervaluing property that means you’re not paying your fair share," he said.
DeSantis has made his battle with Disney a central part of his political identity, so the company's efforts to thwart his oversight threaten to tarnish that image. He has vowed not to rest until Disney is brought to heel, and his allies repeated that message Monday.
"I know this governor and I know this governor well so I have a couple words for Disney: You are not going to win this fight, this governor will," said Republican state Sen. Blaise Ingoglia. "And one word of advice to Disney corporation going forward: Just let it go."
State Sen. Linda Stewart, a Democrat, said the governor is focused on "retaliation, not good government."
"Turning corporations and properties over to government-control, as DeSantis proposes, just because the governor doesn’t like a position they’ve taken on gay rights, belongs in the playbooks of banana republics, not the state of Florida," Stewart said. "We are not going to turn Disney over to his anti-gay mob.”
State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, said Floridians are tired of the governor's feud with Disney, now stretched into its second year.
"People want this drama to come to an end," Eskamani said. "We're asking Gov. DeSantis to let it go and move on and focus on solving real problems instead of just stretching out this drama for your Republican base."
Late Monday, Disney responded to media requests with an economic impact fact sheet that noted the company "paid and collected $1.146 billion in state and local taxes in 2022 – making Disney the largest single taxpayer in Central Florida."
The company has largely been silent throughout the feud, but pointed to recent comments from Disney CEO Bob Iger, who called DeSantis' moves "anti-business" and "anti-Florida."
"A year ago, the company took a position on pending Florida legislation," Iger told shareholders in a meeting earlier this month. "And while the company may have not handled the position that it took very well, a company has a right to freedom of speech just like individuals do."Iger added that: "The governor got very angry about the position Disney took and seems like he's decided to retaliate against us, including the naming of a new board to oversee the property and the business. In effect, to seek to punish a company for its exercise of a constitutional right. And that just seems really wrong to me."
USA TODAY Network - Florida reporter John Kennedy contributed to this report.