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Turnover continues at Disney World’s government

by Staff

The big changes at Walt Disney World’s governing board continue, with a fierce Disney critic leaving his post as Chair of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board.

‘We thank and greatly appreciate Martin Garcia for his full year of service to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, having successfully navigated the transition from the former Reedy Creek District and developed a new district focused on transparency and the elimination of corporate welfare,” said Bryan Griffin, a spokesman for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Office.

The Tampa lawyer’s departure comes as DeSantis recommends Stephanie Kopelousos, his former adviser, as the next District Administrator at CFTOD. Last week, DeSantis appointed current District Administrator Glen Gilzean to serve as Orange County Elections Supervisor, which created the opening. 

Garcia, a Republican donor, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday when Florida Politics reached out. His term was set to expire Feb. 26, 2027.

Garcia has led the board since the state took it over in 2023. Often during his tenure on the CFTOD, which is an unpaid position, Garcia had been a vocal critic of Disney and accused the company of controlling the government district that oversees the utilities, roads and emergency services for the resort.

Next to DeSantis at a Feb. 22 press conference, Garcia called Disney World’s government before the state takeover “arguably the most egregious example of corporate cronyism in the history of modern America.”

At the time, Garcia said he was honored to serve on the CFTOD board.

The state’s takeover began after Disney spoke out against the state’s Parental Rights in Education measure, known by critics as “Don’t Say Gay” law. That drew the ire of Republicans and DeSantis who passed several laws against Disney that allowed the Governor to appoint members onto Disney World’s government board, a power that was essentially held by Disney before.

Lawmakers also allowed the Florida Department of Transportation inspectors onto the monorail for the first time. The state has not released monorail inspection reports since Florida Politics first asked for them two months ago.

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