CFTOD Chairman: Reedy Creek Improvement District Was “One of the Greatest Examples of Corporate Cronyism in Modern American History”

    In a prepared statement read at this evening’s Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors meeting, Board Chairman Martin Garcia responded to the news that Disney was narrowing the scope of its Federal Lawsuit. Here’s the statement released to

    Last week, 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 forgiven for not immediately grasping the import of Disney’s action. But that action, in the legal world, constitutes, if not an earthquake, then at least a major tremor. This was indeed an extraordinary concession. Disney backtracked, effectively conceding that it never should have filed the four federal causes of actions against this board in the first place.

    To be clear, the dispute between Disney and this board only involves contracts—contracts that the corporation entered into with our predecessor: the Reedy Creek Improvement District. As such, it has nothing to do with the dispute between Disney and 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 forum to lash out. In turn, it dragged this board into federal court in Tallahassee. That decision was not only an insult to the people of Florida but also to the taxpayers of the district, who are incurring the legal costs of this unnecessary battle —in retrospect Disney’s retraction has proven a mockery of the legal system.

    It is a noteworthy event when lawyers voluntarily dismiss causes of actions against defendants. In doing so, Disney has all but admitted it knew that the federal charges against this board were bogus, and, moreover, 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 interests of the taxpayers in this district. This board is also fully confident that, when all is said and done, the eleventh-hour contracts that Disney entered into with the old Reedy Creek board will be recognized as void and meet a similar fate as Disney’s federal court dismissal.

    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 this 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 mold the district to serve the best interests of Disney at the expense of the public good. Along the way, it seized control of local government through a variety of unsavory means. Politely, the Reedy Creek Improvement District could have been described as a “public-private partnership.” 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 the operations of the district are promoting the public good. One of our focuses has been to institute transparency and appropriate governance policies, which were sorely lacking in the governance of this district by the old Reedy Creek board for more than a half century. We are tremendously proud of what we have accomplished in such a short time, and we are eager to continue our work on behalf of residents, employees, tourists, and all of our other constituents to function as an independent government agency.
    Martin Garcia, CFTOD Board Chairman

    Walt Disney World did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The federal lawsuit that Disney World brought against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the CFTOD Board is still moving forward, just with fewer counts against the defendants. Locally, Disney World is being sued by the CFTOD in Orange County court to try and determine the legitimacy of a Development Agreement between the District and Disney that was signed before the new Board took over. Disney World has countersued the District, moving the claims dropped in federal court to the state-level lawsuit.

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    1. As has been pointed out numerous times, Disney itself pays the taxes in that district. All of this RCID shenanigans now is just vindictive nonsense from a small and petty man abusing his government powers to punish a “woke” corporation for political gain.


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