It seems Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has no plans to end his vendetta against Disney – which began after the corporation exercised its right to free speech and voiced opposition to DeSantis’s Don’t Say Gay law.
In the most recent episode in the governor’s quest for revenge, DeSantis threatened to build a new state prison next to Disney’s theme parks. This threat has come after Disney out-maneuvered DeSantis’s attempt to strip the company of its special self-governance privileges.
DeSantis has already demanded an investigation into Disney’s stealthy move to prevent government intervention in its district, and at a recent press conference, he began speaking about what he might do with the land just outside the parks, mentioning the possibility of a prison.
At the start of his rant, he admitted that he doesn’t actually care about the land and implied that he’s thinking about what to do with it just for revenge.
“If you look at this whole special district, well Disney Corporation obviously owns a lot of it, but the district owns other land. Ya know, quite frankly I wasn’t even thinking about that land. This was not something that was really important one way or another. We just wanted them to live under the same rules: pay the debt, pay the taxes, all that stuff.”
“But come to think of it, now people are like, ‘What should we do with this land?’… People have said, ‘Maybe create a state park, maybe try to do more amusement parks.’ Someone even said, ‘Maybe you need another state prison,’ who knows? I just think that the possibilities are endless.”
At that, DeSantis offered a smug smile, clearly reaping joy over spending his time attacking Disney rather than focusing on improving life for the people of Florida.
Disney and DeSantis have been feuding since the entertainment company spoke out against the governor’s anti-LGBTQ+ Don’t Say Gay law, which bans discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in lower grades and restricts them in higher grades, using language that LGBTQ+ activists say effectively ban mentioning LGBTQ+ people in the classroom.
After that, DeSantis not only continuously criticized the company in public, but he also oversaw the Florida legislature’s revocation of Disney’s decades-old special zoning agreement to punish them.
DeSantis signed the bill abolishing the district in February. The bill also allowed him to create a five-member board (appointed by him) to oversee government services in Disney’s district. But members of DeSantis’s new board began their tenure by discovering that the previous board snuck in a last-minute development agreement with Disney that allows the company to maintain much of its autonomy and renders the new board pretty much powerless.
DeSantis was ruthlessly mocked for being outplayed, and Disney has insisted the move was above board.
But the DeSantis administration has made it clear this war is not ending anytime soon.
“That story’s not over yet,” DeSantis said earlier this month. “Buckle up. There’s more coming down the pike.”
And DeSantis spokesperson Jeremy Redfern recently declared, “Disney is again fighting to keep its special corporate benefits and dodge Florida law. We are not going to let that happen. As Governor DeSantis recently said, ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet.’”
But it seems Disney is unfazed. It what may or may not have been some direct trolling, Disney tweeted about an upcoming Pride Nite at Disneyland in California on the same day DeSantis threatened the new prison.
DeSantis has been repeatedly criticized for refusing to relent in this feud with Disney, especially because the company is the backbone of Florida’s economy. The Orlando Sentinel’s board recently skewered DeSantis for his pettiness.
“Whenever you happen to be in Florida,” the board wrote, “focus on your actual job: Running a massive state government where people are dying every day of drug overdoses and mass shootings that you barely acknowledge. Where school boards across the state are grimly awaiting the final price tag of the economically reckless voucher bill you just signed. Where insurance rates are skyrocketing and damage claims from back-to-back hurricanes are being summarily denied. Where, every day, we’re discovering more cracks your machinations have inflicted on the fundamental integrity of Florida’s own government.”