Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board to introduce new whistleblower resolution

by | Jun 8, 2023

  • The Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board (CFTOD) plans to introduce a resolution to establish a whistleblower policy within the board’s framework.
  • The specifics of the policy have not been revealed yet, leaving the exact nature of the resolution undisclosed.
  • The resolution comes after the CFTOD voted to file a lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company, following Disney’s lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Oversight Board in federal court.

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board (CFTOB) is set to introduce a whistleblower resolution during its next Board meeting on June 21, as confirmed by the Board’s administration to The Capitolist, the specifics of which have yet to be defined.

The resolution is focused on the establishment of a whistleblower policy within the board’s framework. However, at this stage, the precise details and provisions of the policy have not been disclosed, leaving the exact nature of the resolution yet to be revealed. CFTOB has yet to upload or disclose an agenda for the meeting later this month.

The policy introduction comes amid the Board’s vote in May to file a lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company in state court, which itself comes after Disney sued Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Oversight Board, and other state officials in federal court.

In remarks during a recent meeting, CFTOB Chairman Martin Garcia contended that after Disney’s decision to sue in federal court, the board had few options at its disposal.

“We have no choice now but to respond,” Garcia said during the board meeting. “We’ll seek justice in our own backyard.”

The lawsuit aims to uphold and enforce the CFTOB’s actions that voided agreements made at the 11th hour by Disney, just before control switched from the Reedy Creek Improvement District to the new CFTOB. The agreements, which CFTOB says were made without proper public notice, granted Disney control over development in the area.

Disney’s lawyers assert that the agreements were legitimately approved during transparent meetings, and the company also alleges that the state is using its authority to unconstitutionally retaliate against Disney for opposing DeSantis’ legislative plans.

The lawsuit features statements from DeSantis and his supporters criticizing Disney for its opposition to the Parental Rights in Education Law, which has been labeled by critics as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law. Disney’s attorneys wrote that “Disney voiced its stance on state legislation, and subsequently, the state penalized the company for expressing its opinion.”

While DeSantis condemned Disney as a “woke” corporation, state legislators decided to revamp the Reedy Creek Improvement District, responsible for overseeing government services at Disney World. The lawmakers chose to replace the five Disney-elected members with governor-appointed ones, disrupting a system that allowed Disney to govern its Florida theme parks and resorts autonomously for over 50 years.

Florida officials, and particularly DeSantis, have repeatedly pointed out that the changes “level the playing field” so that Disney is now subject to the same laws and regulations as all other companies in Florida.

Garcia highlighted the new board’s objective of “fostering public interest” by introducing what he described as innovative approaches to Disney’s special district. In prepared remarks emailed to journalists before the board meeting, Garcia wrote:

“In essence, [Disney] is asking a federal court in Tallahassee to wrestle back the hands of time to 1967, while this board is instead charged legislatively with bringing the district into the 21st century with new and better policies and practices.”


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