The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday it is eliminating all minority-based hiring and contracting under its authority at Disney World.
In a news release sent from the district, District Administrator Glen Gilzean also said Reedy Creek’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs discriminated against Americans based on race and gender and cost “taxpayers millions of dollars.”
The district’s DEI committee and any related job duties will be abolished, and staff won’t be allowed to pursue DEI initiatives.
“Our district will no longer participate in any attempt to divide us by race or advance the notion that we are not created equal,” said Gilzean, who was head of the Central Florida Urban League when DeSantis appointed him to the $400,000 a year position earlier this year.
The Reedy Creek Minority/ Women Business Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise programs led to contracts awarded based on racially and gender-driven goals, using quotas to ensure those goals were met, Gilzean said.
Gilzean said previous contracts threatened contractors who did not keep up with racial or gender quotas with nonpayment and disqualification from future bidding.
The announcement comes a day after the abrupt departure of John Classe, a top official who led Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District for seven years before being pushed aside amid the state takeover.
District and Disney officials did not respond to requests for further comment.
Carlos Guillermo Smith, a former state representative from Orlando who is running for state Senate, said diversity programs “are critical to ensuring minority-owned businesses have the opportunity to compete and reflect the diversity of our local community.”
Abolishing the programs allows “DeSantis and his allies to steer lucrative contracts towards their buddies and using government to enrich themselves further,” Smith added.
The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District was created by the Legislature after lawmakers abolished the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which oversaw infrastructure including roads, water and sewer and police and fire protection, and future development of the Disney World property.
Its five members were chosen by DeSantis, who began feuding with Disney World after its former CEO criticized the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, which banned instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools.
The state has since sued Disney in state court seeking to enforce the authority of the new district. Disney, meanwhile, has accused DeSantis and lawmakers of violating its First Amendment free speech rights in a separate federal lawsuit.
This content was originally published here.