Disney stock slumps, CEO under fire, amid Florida political controversy

The Walt Disney Company, under pressure from leftist activists and employees, injected itself into a contrived political controversy over parental rights in education legislation in Florida and is now quite literally paying a steep price for that ideological decision.

Disney’s stock has dropped substantially over the past year and the Florida legislature, with the approval of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), just stripped the Disney World Resort of a special self-governing arrangement it had enjoyed for more than 50 years, Fox Business reported.

The financial news outlet noted that Disney stock had reached an all-time high of nearly $200 per share in March 2021, but that price per share now sits at less than $120, a roughly one-third decline in value.

That places the company on track to be among the worst-performing stocks of the year thus far, though obviously, things could change.

Self-governing status stripped

The most recent problem for Disney is the fact that, according to local Spectrum News 13, the Republican-led Florida legislature just passed, and Gov. DeSantis signed into law, a bill that sunsets six special districts in the state that had been granted self-governing privileges before 1968, with one of those districts being the home of Disney World, the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

Those six special districts, Reedy Creek included, will have until June 1, 2023, to apply for reinstatement of the special self-governing status, provided the legislature approves and changes are made to comply with the state constitution and new rules for special districts that went into effect after 1968.

Given that the special arrangement allowed Disney to levy its own taxes and manage its own infrastructure and services, there is now some concern about the capabilities of the two Florida counties the Disney World Resort is located in to handle the additional costs of infrastructure maintenance and emergency services, according to CNBC.

Spectrum noted that DeSantis dismissed those concerns, however, during a Friday press conference to announce the different bills he had signed that were just passed during the legislature’s special session.

Referencing Reedy Creek, the governor said, “They do have services, utilities. We’re going to take care of that. Don’t worry. We have everything all thought out. Don’t let anyone tell you that Disney is going to get a tax cut out of this. They are going to pay more taxes because of this.”

Disney’s problems go beyond Florida legislation

Meanwhile, the New York Post reported that Disney CEO Bob Chapek has come under fire from both the left and right for the blundering manner in which he has handled the manufactured controversy over the absurdly misnomered “Don’t Say Gay” bill that, in reality, simply prohibits schools from teaching young children about sexual orientation and gender identity issues.

Chapek’s mishandling of that situation is far from his only problem, though, as the Post noted that, under his leadership, subscriptions to streaming service Disney+ are down, there have been numerous complaints about increased prices and longer than usual lines at the company’s theme parks, and his “people skills” in dealing with colleagues and employees leaves much to be desired, among other things.

There is now some talk circulating about possibly removing Chapek as CEO before the expiration of his contract to replace him with a new leader — perhaps temporarily by his successful predecessor, Bob Iger — who can handle the Disney empire without getting embroiled in political controversies and public relations disasters.

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