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Disney Chief Raps Orlando’s Officials, Then Apologizes

The chairman of the Walt Disney Co. on Friday said the government of Orlando is incompetent, but later apologized for the off-the-cuff remark.

Disney Chairman Michael D. Eisner also said he was a “little annoyed” by a legal challenge to Disney’s right to use tax-exempt bonds for improvements to its central Florida holdings.

Disney’s governmental arm, the Reedy Creek Improvement District, won all $57 million in tax-exempt bonds available in six central Florida counties this year and plans to use them to upgrade Disney’s sewage system.

Orange County officials, who wanted to use the bonds to raise $19 million to finance affordable housing, asked Reedy Creek to surrender some of the bonds, but district officials refused, saying they had gotten their application in first and had won the bonds fairly. A judge ruled in Disney’s favor Thursday.

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“The fact that Orlando is incompetent as a government in this area and was not only not first, but wasn’t even second or third, that if we gave it back it wouldn’t even go to Orlando for housing,” Eisner told reporters in Columbia, S.C. Orlando is in Orange County.

Eisner later apologized and sought to retract his comments.


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