Disney World chief opts out of book written by Florida's Blood Centers' Anne Chinoda

CroftonCorporate OfficersAmusement and Theme ParksOrlando MagicHealthEconomy, Business and FinanceThomas Robinson

When Anne Chinoda, president of Florida's Blood Centers, was preparing to publish her book of memoirs and leadership advice, she asked Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton to write the foreword.

Crofton read the book, Simply Significant, and agreed.

Recently, though, in the latest twist to the controversy surrounding some of FBC's business practices, Crofton asked that her name and foreword be removed.

"She was uncomfortable with the use of her name and position to market the book," Disney spokeswoman Kim Prunty said.

Crofton's foreword, which touched on customer service at Disney, appeared along with a second foreword in some copies of the book that apparently were printed before she decided to distance herself from the project. In other copies, the only foreword is written by David Perez, president and chief executive officer of CaridianBCT, a Lakewood, Colo.-based blood-collection technology company.

Prunty, who characterized Crofton's relationship with Chinoda as a "professional acquaintance," said the removal of the foreword was not in response to Orlando Sentinel news articles earlier this year that detailed conflicts of interest among FBC's board members who also do business with the blood bank.

Last week, another Sentinel report revealed that FBC's board had denied Chinoda's request for $5,000 to host a kickoff event for her book because "FBC will not receive any royalties from the book's profits," according to minutes from the February board meeting.

That point was alarming, considering Chinoda used an FBC graphic artist and public relations consultant Roy Reid — of Consensus Communications, which is paid as much as $11,000 a month by the blood bank — to help produce the book.

FBC spokeswoman Susan Forbes said Chinoda always intended for the book's profits to be given to the blood bank. A Web site dedicated to the book now has multiple references to FBC that weren't there before.

Those references were added in a clear attempt to smooth over any public-relations wrinkles surrounding the book. And there are no references to Crofton on the site.

"Obviously, Anne was disappointed her [Crofton's] contributions wouldn't be included, but is understanding and supportive of her decision," Forbes said.

Goodbye Yankees, hello Magic?Last summer, all eyes were on Centerplate Inc. as it prepared, on rather shaky financial footing, to assume the food-service contract at the Orange County Convention Center.

One year, one takeover and one chief executive later, the Connecticut-based company is about to go after another big local contract: food-and-beverage sales in the Orlando Magic's new arena, scheduled to open next year at West Church Street and Interstate 4.

Desmond Hague, who took over as CEO of Centerplate in February after private-equity firm Kohlberg & Co. bought the company and took it private in a $200 million deal, was in town last week for an arena strategy session. The contract competition will likely become a hotly fought and highly political contest among top players in the industry.

"We're in such a fortunate position right now to create something that can be special, not just good," said Hague, the former president of IHOP Restaurants.

A year ago, Centerplate was reeling from the loss of its largest contract, with the New York Yankees, as that team readied its new baseball stadium. Now, Hague said, it's poised for growth and on the hunt for acquisitions.

As for the Magic's pending contract, Centerplate is planning a full-court press, with former NBA star David Robinson on its team.

Last week, Robinson announced that his newly formed investment firm, Admiral Capital Group, has taken a stake in Centerplate, with Robinson its newest director.

Beth Kassab can be reached at 407-420-5448 or bkassab@orlandosentinel.com. Read her blog at orlandosentinel.com/thebottomline.

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