Daily Mail: "Scientology town Clearwater"

Discussion in 'Media' started by The Wrong Guy, Mar 31, 2015.

  1. Thanks to Type4_PTS of ESMB -

    Mark Bunker talks to the City Council in the video. Click the link above for Type4_PTS's comments.

  2. Goodby Clearwater
  3. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology’s pitch to Clearwater: Let us buy land for hotel, and we’ll gussy up downtown

    By Rod Keller, The Underground Bunker, March 19, 2017


    This week Scientology leader David Miscavige met separately with members of Clearwater’s City Council to discuss his plan for a business district in the downtown area. We have notes made by the officials, and they clear up some misconceptions about the project. A report in the Tampa Bay Times that all property owners in the four by four block area would be required to sell to the church or a group of wealthy members is largely false, and Miscavige angrily denied that he wants full control over the area to the council members. “Mr. Miscavige reported that he did not have intent to control or exercise oversight of Downtown Clearwater as had been reported in the press,” says councilman Bill Jonson.

    “Mr. Miscavige spoke first of his frustration of not being able to roll out his ideas to the public on a timetable he had wanted to, because of the newspaper stories that he said were largely inaccurate,” says councilman Bob Cundiff. Press reports that private owners to have to sell would require “eminent domain” by the city, which would be hugely unpopular in Clearwater if it benefited Scientology. The city, county, state and federal buildings in the district are not for sale, and we haven’t found any business owners who have been approached to sell. David Miscavige did not ask any of the council members for a mandate to sell properties in the district to the church.

    Miscavige had two main points to cover with the members. First, he presented his plan to renovate storefronts, recruiting retailers and creating a vibrant shopping district along Cleveland Street, and to build a movie theater complex along Myrtle, supposedly with some involvement from actor Tom Cruise. Second, he wants to purchase the property owned by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) on the waterfront. That property is not in the business district, as Mr. Jonson noted: “I told them that this was outside of the scope of the ‘retail strategy’ presentation, and that since this was a proposed Council agenda item the same presentation would need to be made to the entire Council at the upcoming public meeting.”

    But the two projects are undeniably linked. Councilman Hoyt Hamilton told the Tampa Bay Times “He didn’t come out and say it, but it was more of that his funding resources would be much more amenable if the (aquarium) property were to be available to the church,” Hamilton said.

    That’s the deal Scientology is offering the city – renovations for downtown in exchange for letting the church acquire the aquarium site. All the city has to do is decline to purchase that empty lot and it will likely go to the highest bidder, which will be Scientology.

    Miscavige has a theory as to why the aquarium is only being offered to the city at this point. Mr. Cundiff reported “He said he has offered the CMA a large amount of money for the property, but they are still reluctant to sell to the church. He said that he thought they would not sell because someone on the CMA board was a born-again Christian and hated the Scientologists. I told him that I was a born-again Christian, and hated no one. I told him that CMA should feel free to sell their property to whomever they wish, as should anyone who wants to sell property.”

    David Yates, CEO of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium denies the fairly outrageous charge of hatred and discrimination. “This is untrue, and we currently have an offer before the City of Clearwater to purchase the property, as the City has conveyed to us multiple times their desire to own the property,” he tells us.

    Scientology’s plan for the property is to build a hotel for visiting Scientologists with more amenities than the adjacent Oak Cove. They want to make staying at the Oak Cove more attractive with the addition of a swimming pool. “He said the hotel is a first class hotel, and is completely taxable, but has no amenities for the people from around the world who stay there. He would like to use the CMA property to build, according to the artist conception he showed me, a secondary hotel on the corner of Osceola and Pierce, with a swimming pool complex, and whatever amenities the hotel guests needed,” says Mr. Cundiff.

    In exchange Miscavige is offering to renovate the storefronts along Cleveland Street. Councilman Jonson says, “The retail strategy is focused primarily on facade improvements along Cleveland. [Scientology] paid for the designs and offers financial assistance to pay for the facade improvements to be done to private property. [Scientology] retained Gensler Architects to design possible facade improvements for all existing businesses along Cleveland. Additionally they designed facade enhancements to now vacant storefronts. The facade designs generally follow the architecture design of historic buildings and create interesting facades for the existing generic building faces. Also present was Irwin Miller from Gensler in LA, Scott Dobling from Hybridge Commercial Real Estate in Tampa, and Wade Robinette from Retail Strategies in Birmingham Alabama. They said, ‘Cleveland Street has a lot of potential. We see massive potential.'”

    But not everybody wants a new building facade. The Lucky Anchor Irish Pub on Cleveland just finished thousands of dollars of improvements as a sports bar and not in the style of a historic building. “They would have to reimburse me the money I just put into it,” says owner Clay Irwin. Facade grants in other cities are usually matching grants, but in Clearwater the church is offering to pay for them entirely. “The church is considering paying up to 100 percent of the facade improvements,” says mayor George Cretekos. Mr. Jonson notes, “my personal observation is that the retail plan will be up to the downtown property owners as to whether to implement along with the decision of the entire community to shop.”

    Former Scientologist Aaron Levin-Smith thinks the public will not support the district, but Scientologists will be forced to. “The language the church is using is not that this will attract a ton of non-Scientologists to the downtown area. Miscavige believes if he tells all the local Scientologists to shop in this area, after he personally selects and approves the businesses that will be in the area, it will be a win-win for David Miscavige and for the Scientology public. The downtown shopping center will be part of David Miscavige’s crown jewel. He will absolutely order all Sea Org members and all Scientologists to shop in the area.

    “He will try to put businesses down there that would make going to Clearwater Mall or Tampa International Mall, or Dunedin unnecessary. The win for public Scientologists is that they would no longer have to go to other towns for their entertainment and shopping needs. The win for David Miscavige is he’ll look like he saved downtown Clearwater,” Smith-Levin says.

  4. "Is downtown Clearwater about to become the Scientology version of Vatican City?"

    Tampa Bay Times - Trigaux: From infrastructure to ScientologyVille, four issues that are now Tampa Bay


    Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

    * * * * * BEGIN EXCERPT * * * * *

    Welcome to ScientologyVille

    So this is what abdication feels like. Downtown Clearwater, long under the thumb of a well-financed and growing Church of Scientology, is throwing in the towel and will let Scientologists take charge of much of the city core's economic development.

    It's a disturbing, astonishing turn of events. Just wait until the world stops fixating on Trump long enough to clue in to Clearwater's surrender. A few newspapers already are paying attention, as this Toronto Star newspaper story from earlier this month notes: "In this down-on-its-heels resort town, one thing is for sure: (Scientology's) an occupying power and avaricious property-gobbling enterprise."

    This is just the beginning. Clearwater was long shunned by expanding businesses and other because of the overwhelming presence of Scientology. Now it may win too much attention as the city that couldn't, the downtown that failed to hold its own. Is downtown Clearwater about to become the Scientology version of Vatican City?

    Heads up, Tampa Bay. The broader region may not remain immune to the radical rebranding of one of the three cities that make up the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area. Businesses, millennials, retirees, tourists: They will all take notice. Some, perhaps many, will ponder alternative destinations.

    Perhaps the Toronto Star headline says it best: "Scientology's Florida kingdom like something out of a Stephen King novel"

    May that not become our next slogan.

    * * * * * END EXCERPT * * * * *
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  5. The Wrong Guy Member

  6. The Wrong Guy Member

    This was published today by Florida State University's FSView:

    The history of Scientology in Clearwater, Florida

    By Ryan Beehler, Senior Staff Writer

    Four decades ago, the Church of Scientology began planning to take over the city of Clearwater, Florida by infiltrating local government and other influential non-government entities in the city. Now it appears that the Church’s plan has come to fruition.
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  7. The Wrong Guy Member

    Editorial: Clearwater officials should not surrender to Church of Scientology | Tampa Bay Times


    Clearwater City Council members meekly capitulated last week to Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, answering his summons to private meetings at Scientology's command center to discuss its continued takeover of downtown. That was demeaning and disrespectful to Clearwater residents, who still have not heard directly from Miscavige about his latest scheme. Scientology should come out of the shadows, and public officials should remember they represent the public and no one else.

    One by one, Mayor George Cretekos and other City Council members trooped to Scientology's Fort Harrison Hotel to privately meet with Miscavige and hear his pitch. They circumvented public meetings requirements by meeting one at a time, and only City Council member Doreen Caudell had the good sense to reconsider and decline the invitation. Some who did go, including Cretekos and City Council member Hoyt Hamilton, went out of their way to be nice after their audiences with Miscavige and his consultants. Either Miscavige has had an epiphany, or city officials have decided to overlook Scientology's four decades of deceit and disingenuous dealings and are preparing to surrender.

    All Clearwater residents know is what city officials recounted after their meetings. The Tampa Bay Times' Tracey McManus reported Scientology is focused on recruiting businesses to Cleveland Street rather than controlling every downtown block they don't already own. Miscavige suggested Scientology might pay for all of the facade redesign along Cleveland Street. And there apparently were some lovely renderings and video simulations.

    Yet the public remains in the dark, and its elected officials should not be fooled by a slick sales pitch and Miscavige's new eagerness to collaborate. Remember Scientology bought more than $26 million in downtown properties earlier this year after Community Redevelopment Agency director Seth Taylor says he was assured by Miscavige in October that the church's plan did not include buying more property. Remember Scientology already has accumulated more than $260 million in real estate and is downtown's largest property owner. Remember Scientology already controls at least half of some 40 storefronts along a key stretch of Cleveland Street either directly or through its parishioners and Scientology-owned businesses that rent space. And remember what Miscavige really wants.

    What Scientology really wants is a 1.4-acre downtown lot adjacent to Clearwater City Hall and one of its buildings. That lot had been bought by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for a project that fizzled, and the aquarium has agreed to sell it to the city. Unfortunately, a paperwork glitch delayed the City Council's vote on the purchase until next month — handing Miscavige more time to apply more pressure. It's hardly surprising he has suggested to city officials that Scientology's interest in renovating Cleveland Street and building a new entertainment complex hinges on the church acquiring the aquarium lot.

    Instead of standing up to Scientology, city officials are scrambling to defend their willingness to cooperate with the largest contributor to downtown Clearwater's demise. City Manager Bill Horne initially suggested he was willing to let Scientology lead on downtown redevelopment, then backtracked and acknowledged the city and the Community Redevelopment Agency should lead. Cretekos absurdly claimed he sees no difference between Scientology and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, who is redeveloping 40 acres in downtown Tampa. There is no comparison in reputation, track record or transparency. Vinik unveiled his plans at a big public event in 2014. With Scientology, it's nothing but secret meetings and veiled threats.

    City officials still have time to find their backbones. They should vote to buy the aquarium lot next month, then combine that lot with the City Hall site for redevelopment. They should carry out their $55 million plan to redo the downtown waterfront. And they should stop meeting secretly with Miscavige and treating Scientology like a newfound savior.

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  8. The Wrong Guy Member

    Clearwater Cult Revival! How Scientology and Tom Cruise can Monetize Florida Takeover

    By Juliette Wills, Heat Street


    There is hardly a shortage of news right now so you might have missed that Scientology is sending Tom Cruise to the Sunshine State.

    The church already owns huge swathes of property in Clearwater (over $200 million worth) and bought a further $26 million in real estate in January and February. As ever Cruise is at the front of the Scientology queue, reportedly buying a $3 million duplex penthouse around the corner from the church’s Super Power Building headquarters.

    The church is upping the ante in a bid to boost numbers and convince strangely gullible folk that they should be devoting a mere thousand lifetimes to their cause. Seemingly fewer people than ever believe that becoming a Scientologist is a sensible thing to do, and with prominent members leaving the church like there’s no tomorrow, they clearly needed to do something.

    Anyone who has suffered the misfortune of being given the Scientology hard sell knows that they are upfront about the ‘faith’. Indeed, Cruise pioneered the modern celeb-fan etiquette of reaching out directly to his fans at his premieres . So Clearwater clearly brings new opportunities.

    I have ideas for Scientology that aren’t so much ‘Leah Remini-A&E TV’ as ‘QVC’. For a start vacations will never be the same again!

    Cruise’s duplex is decked out with a flight simulator, a car elevator and a private rooftop pool from where Top Gun Tom can keep a close eye on the one in ten Clearwater Scientology residents.

    The 350,000 square-foot structure hosts top-level $800-an hour Scientology lessons. Following a mere 90 hours of instruction you’ll not only be around $72,000 lighter but you’ll be able to leave your body and control matter with your mind. Who wouldn’t want that?

    Cruise is at the penultimate level, so do watch your step just in case it works — he could probably fling you into the path of a bus just by giving you the stink eye!

    Around half of the 40 storefronts along Cleveland Street are owned by the church, its parishioners or owners who rent to Scientology-owned businesses, according to the Tampa Bay Times, so if you’re thinking of taking a vacation in Clearwater this summer, consider what you may encounter during a stroll to the shops?

    Scientologists believe that humans are actually immortal beings called ‘Thetans’ who live for trillions of years, so you can bet there’s a dude on every streetcorner selling somewhat complex life insurance plans which, of course, are infinite and therefore completely worthless. Do. Not. Sign. Anything.

    Whereas an ordinary American street might be home to several pharmacies, Scientologists believe that sickness is merely psychosomatic, so you won’t be able to buy any pills or potions. Remember to pack mosquito repellant and suntan lotion or you’ll be truly screwed.

    Church Leader David Miscavige has a bunch of dogs who are said to wear blue vests with stripes that show their rank as higher than most human Scientologists. These Church-crazy canines probably have their own dressing room, so expect to find at least one pet store selling the latest in canine comforts and designer doggy-wear. Do remember to bow (wow?) in their presence should you bump into them.

    In the ‘60s Ron Hubbard hung out in the Caribbean on his ship, ‘The Apollo’. Teenage girls wearing uniforms of hot pants and platform shoes brought him drinks and sandwiches. Expect there to be a shop for teenage girls selling hot pants and platform shoes. It’s probably next door to the Irish pub which is where you’ll be able to get your drinks and sandwiches, which may well be served by teenage girls wearing said hot pants and platform shoes. Sweet!

    Scientology bosses read all the mail that members send to their loved ones before they are posted to ensure that they don’t contain any ‘negative’ musings such as ‘Dude, I’m so over being reborn’ or ‘Dear Mom, apparently I can check out anytime I want but I can never leave’. Look out for a stationery shop where you can purchase Church-approved writing sets and stamps depicting Tom Cruise’s mega-watt grin along with ‘I Heart Clearwater’ postcards.

    When a member commits a punishable offense, they are sent to the Rehabilitation Project Force. People on the RPF may only eat the leftovers after other members have eaten and they are made to run everywhere. Expect a store selling recipe books with plenty of soup and casserole ideas (perfect for leftovers!) along with running shoes, shorts and perhaps T-shirts emblazoned with ‘I Run For Ron!’ across the chest.

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  9. The Wrong Guy Member

    Here's a cult press release that was published today:

    Church of Scientology and the Way to Happiness Celebrate Earth in Special Celebration

    The Scientology Information Center and the Way to Happiness Foundation of Tampa Bay invite all in the community to Celebrate Earth Day through music and inspiration on Sunday April 23rd at 500 Cleveland Street between 6:30 and 8:30pm.

    Amber Skjelset, manager of the Scientology Information Center said, “We are inspired by the words of humanitarian and Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard from his book, The Way to Happiness, a common sense guide to better living: ‘The idea that one has a share in the planet and that one can and should help and care for it may seem very large and, to some, quite beyond reality. But today what happens on the other side of the world, even so far away, can effect what happens to your home.’”

    According to, Earth Day was founded in 1970 as a day of education about environmental issues. Earth Day is now a globally celebrated holiday that is sometimes extended into Earth Week; a full seven days of events focused on “green awareness.”

    Skjelset said the downtown Clearwater celebration will be forwarding the message of Earth Day. Local environmentalists, wildlife preservationists, neighborhood gardeners and concerned citizens will share their activities and initiatives to protect both the wildlife, keep the community clean, and how natural foods are being grown in Florida soil.

    Artists will also participate sharing their voice and musical talents in support of the occasion. Refreshments will be served 6:30pm, event start at 7pm at the Scientology Information Center housed in the Historic Clearwater Building.

    The Church of Scientology:

    The Scientology religion was founded by humanitarian and philosopher, L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in the United States in 1954 and has expanded to more than 11,000 churches, missions and affiliated groups in 167 nations. The Church of Scientology regularly engages in humanitarian programs and community events. Clearwater is the home of the spiritual headquarters for the Church of Scientology.

    In July 2015, the Church fully restored the historic Clearwater Building and re-opened it as the Scientology Information Center for the community. The Center houses a gallery of audio-visual displays with some 400 videos allowing guests a self-guided tour and showing basic Scientology beliefs, information on L. Ron Hubbard, Churches around the world and ongoing social programs.

    For more information please visit www...

  10. The Wrong Guy Member

    ASL Talks Clearwater Redevelopment

    By Mike Rinder, March 26, 2017

    My good friend Aaron Smith-Levin presents a well-reasoned explanation of what is going on in Clearwater based on his considerable experience and knowledge. While specific to the situation in Clearwater he offers some interesting insight into the “think” that drives scientology through the actions and directives of David Miscavige.

    I have not had time to comment very extensively on this subject of late. I had started but have not completed my own blog post focused on the consummate salesmanship skills of Miscavige – selling what is good for Miscavige to many smarter, more savvy people than the marks who run the City of Clearwater (e.g. the Federal Govt, Interpol, numerous successful and wealthy businessmen). The City of Clearwater officials are like a junior high team playing against the pros.

    My view is slightly different than Aaron’s. I believe the primary motivation for Miscavige wanting the Aquarium lot on the bluff is to keep “wogs” away from the Ft Harrison, Oak Cove and SP Building and that if he doesn’t get that piece of property, the façade plans for Cleveland St will remain just that — a façade of plans, much like those for the Advanced Org in Africa, the ideal org in Detroit or the release of OT IX and X.

    I may never get to completing that posting, so in the interim check out Aaron’s take:

  11. The Wrong Guy Member

    The article above was mentioned today in The Ledger, a Lakeland, Florida publication.

    Around Florida: Issues that are now priorities


    Welcome to ScientologyVille

    So this is what abdication feels like. Downtown Clearwater, long under the thumb of a well-financed and growing Church of Scientology, is throwing in the towel and will let Scientologists take charge of much of the city core's economic development.

    It's a disturbing, astonishing turn of events. Just wait until the world stops fixating on Trump long enough to clue in to Clearwater's surrender. A few newspapers already are paying attention, as this Toronto Star newspaper story from earlier this month notes: "In this down-on-its-heels resort town, one thing is for sure: (Scientology's) an occupying power and avaricious property-gobbling enterprise."

    This is just the beginning. Clearwater was long shunned by expanding businesses and other because of the overwhelming presence of Scientology. Now it may win too much attention as the city that couldn't, the downtown that failed to hold its own. Is downtown Clearwater about to become the Scientology version of Vatican City?

    Perhaps the Toronto Star headline says it best: "Scientology's Florida kingdom like something out of a Stephen King novel."

    May that not become our next slogan.

  12. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology leader David Miscavige ups offer for aquarium property before Clearwater vote on land deal | Tampa Bay Times

    By Tracey McManus, Times Staff Writer, March 29, 2017


    The city may be poised to vote next month on whether to buy a vacant downtown lot from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, but that hasn't stopped the Church of Scientology from trying to acquire the property.

    The church has upped its standing offer for the property and threw in a "sizable donation" to sweeten the deal, spokesman Ben Shaw confirmed Wednesday. He declined to disclose the church's new offer but said in a statement that it "far exceeds what the city can pay."

    The City Council is scheduled to vote on its $4.25 million deal April 20.

    Shaw called the new bid a win for all: The aquarium would receive a substantial amount for its property and the donation; the city would not have to expend taxpayer dollars; and the church would be able to build a swimming pool and amenities for its members at the adjacent Oak Cove religious retreat.

    Aquarium CEO David Yates said even though Scientology leader David Miscavige has raised the stakes on the land deal, it has not shaken the nonprofit's commitment to sell to the city.

    "We don't have an intention of breaking the offer with the city," Yates said, declining to disclose the church's offer amount. "We've been talking to the city about buying the property for the past year and a half now. We could get an offer from five other organizations and it wouldn't matter."

    Yates said if the aquarium pivoted and sold to the church, it could expose the nonprofit to litigation.

    Mayor George Cretekos said he has not discussed that scenario with the city attorney, but Cretekos said he wasn't sure if the city would sue the aquarium if the deal fell through. That decision would have to be made by the City Council.

    "The aquarium has been an important part of the city of Clearwater," Cretekos said. "I would have to think real long and hard before I'd want to sue the aquarium."

    The City Council was scheduled to vote on the purchase March 16. But City Attorney Pam Akin realized on March 10 that the meeting was not properly advertised, requiring the vote to be moved to April 20. The new offer from Miscavige's attorney arrived hours later, around 1 a.m. March 11, Yates said.

    Then on March 14, Miscavige held individual meetings with four of the five City Council members to describe retail and entertainment development he is planning for downtown.

    The Scientology leader briefed them on the church's plans to bankroll a facade overhaul of Cleveland Street and recruit high-end retail to fill empty storefronts. But he insinuated it hinged on the church's ability to buy the aquarium property, City Council member Hoyt Hamilton said afterward.

    Consultants who designed the city's 10-year, $55 million waterfront redevelopment plan included the aquarium lot as property the city should ensure meets "the community's vision and productively contribute to downtown." It sits across the street from City Hall along a strip of Osceola Avenue that consultants said the city could redevelop as a public space to benefit the downtown and waterfront.

    Council members said Miscavige showed them a video of a swimming pool, playground, garden and possibly another hotel on the aquarium lot — but just for parishioners, not the public.

    Aside from those private discussions, Miscavige has not presented the downtown redevelopment plan to the public. Shaw said the plans are being finalized and are "for the benefit of downtown and do not include the church controlling or managing downtown retail establishments."

    Miscavige first offered the aquarium $4.25 million for the lot in 2015, but Yates said the nonprofit held off to give the city time to complete its waterfront redevelopment plan and decide if it wanted the first option to buy.

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  13. The Wrong Guy Member

    In downtown Clearwater, Scientology's bid for an expanded role is a matter of scripture | Tampa Bay Times

    By Tracey McManus, Times Staff Writer, March 31, 2017


    The Church of Scientology's proposal to bring retail and entertainment downtown is a novel new development, but the recent rollout of its plans has a tone that goes back decades.

    Scientology's long-standing zeal for expansion and penchant for secrecy have manifested in several ways: the scale of its plans for Cleveland Street, its private meetings with elected officials and its hushed effort to snap up millions of dollars worth of property after promising the city it wouldn't.

    It's an assertive approach that comes up time and again in teachings by founder L. Ron Hubbard and other writings. When it comes to handling governments and widening its influence, the church's strategy is a matter of scripture.

    In a series of letters on church policy called "Keeping Scientology Working," Hubbard writes about skirting government approvals.

    "Do they think a society in this shape will approve Scientology into power? Hell no! And to hell with this society. We're making a new one. So let's skip the approval button from a lot of (non-Scientologists) and settle down to work to make new people and better people."

    Scientology spokesman Ben Shaw said in a statement that other religions like Christianity and Judaism also seek to make people spiritually better, and he objected to a non-Scientologist wanting to interpret the passage.

    The context of Keeping Scientology Working, Shaw said, "is something you could not be expected to understand, and your inference as to its meaning is both inaccurate and inappropriate."

    But the meaning of that and similar passages is just what it sounds like, said Mike Rinder, who spent 25 years as a senior Scientology executive before defecting in 2007. Once the church's international spokesman, Rinder said Scientology leader David Miscavige's retail plan for downtown is an embodiment and fulfillment of its preachings "to take over governments."

    "Really it's not specifically Clearwater," he said. "Scientology believes that they are going to take over the world. This means bringing everybody into compliance with the goals and objectives of Scientology."

    With the church's international spiritual headquarters located downtown at the 300,000 square foot Flag Building, Rinder said insulating that footprint is a priority for church leaders.

    If Miscavige succeeds and recruits retail to the struggling downtown, Rinder said he will instruct local and visiting Scientologists to frequent the shops. That, he said, would create a "perimeter of safety" around the Flag headquarters and the Fort Harrison Hotel, so parishioners can take courses and buy church counseling sessions and not have to cross paths with outsiders.

    "It's to create a buffer," Rinder said. "It's an attempt to protect what makes the income."

    In private meetings March 14, Miscavige described to City Council members his strategy to recruit retailers to empty storefronts downtown and bankroll a facade overhaul for buildings along Cleveland Street.

    The plan includes building an entertainment complex along Myrtle Avenue with actor and noted Scientologist Tom Cruise. The redevelopment, Miscavige suggested, hinges on the church's ability to buy a 1.4 acre lot adjacent to its 13-story Oak Cove religious retreat owned by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

    In addition to the $260 million in property Scientology owns under its name in Clearwater, the church also bought $26 million in downtown real estate over the past two months through shell companies after Community Redevelopment Agency Director Seth Taylor said he was assured in October the church's plan did not involve buying more property.

    Mayor George Cretekos said Miscavige told him the church had to quietly acquire property for its retail strategy so sellers would not inflate prices.

    But one of those properties the church bought through a shell company in February has no retail purpose at all. The landmark Atrium tower on Cleveland Street leases office space to more than 30 local businesses and is anchored by SunTrust Bank.

    Aaron Smith-Levin, 36, who oversaw courses and counseling as a member of the church's Sea Org workforce before leaving in 2013, said controlling sectors of society to push Scientology dogma is explicit policy.

    "Once a (business) is known as being antagonistic to Scientology, Scientologists are told not to go there," Smith-Levin said. "The SunTrust building is where a lot of local companies have taken up office. Any one of those who becomes known as being anti-Scientology … are not going to have a lease renewed."

    The strategy for bringing businesses and governments into compliance with Scientology is outlined in a policy called "The Special Zone Plan."

    Written by Hubbard in 1960, it gives the example of a Scientologist housewife who takes over a women's club as secretary and "straightens up the club affairs" by pushing Scientology into areas like marriage advice — and taking fees for it.

    The founder encourages members to get jobs like secretarial staff or bodyguards with access to department heads so they can influence the environment. He describes a police officer selling Scientology by "handling the familial problems of the commissioner as his driver or making the rookies gasp at how fast he could train them." Soon, Hubbard writes, the officer will have "altered the whole character, ability and effectiveness of the police force" and, in time, change "the whole approach to law enforcement in that area."

    "The cue in all this is don't seek the cooperation of groups," Hubbard writes. "Don't ask for permission. Just enter them and start functioning to make the group win through effectiveness and sanity."

    Shaw said the Special Zone Plan is "simply an idea of how to help every area of society to do better in life." He said passages from the Bible also could be misinterpreted to infer ulterior motives of Christians working near government.

    When Scientology arrived in Clearwater in 1975, it purchased the Fort Harrison Hotel for its headquarters under a false name with $2.3 million cash. It took a year for the church to identify itself. In the meantime, Scientologists ran a smear campaign against then-Mayor Gabe Cazares and other officials, journalists and citizens who questioned the church.

    The operation was outlined in various documents, including "Project Normandy," which described church operations to investigate everyone in the Clearwater area — from the sheriff to the city attorney — to determine whom Scientology officials needed "to penetrate and handle in order to establish area control."

    Shaw said the church office responsible for the Normandy plot was disbanded long ago for unethical behavior.

    Karen Pressley, a former Sea Org staffer who left the church in 1998, said investment in real estate and retail is a strategy to make it appear Scientology has influence in the corporate world at a time when membership is reportedly declining.

    She said Miscavige was demonstrating that influence by meeting with City Council members privately and using a policy called "safe pointing" to make area leaders feel comfortable with Scientology. That, in turn, makes it easier to persuade them to align with his objectives.

    "Without a safe point established," Hubbard writes, "it is a waste of time to rush into dealings with a government or to promise them anything. It is too easy to step on hostile toes and to arouse suspicion of you or make you difficult to account for."

    Pressley, a fashion designer, worked directly under Miscavige when she was brought to Clearwater in 1995 from her post as commanding officer of the church's Celebrity Center in Los Angeles. Her job was to design new uniforms for the Sea Org.

    She said if Miscavige recruits retail to the downtown core, and the general public doesn't feel it's a welcome place for non-Scientologists, it will still be billed a success within the church.

    "My job used to be making Scientology look good in terms of the staff," she said. "It's the same concept with making Scientology look good with buildings. Even if people don't come into the buildings, it's enough for Scientology to show that they bought the property and they are going to hold control of the real estate. Scientology is all about public perception."

    In a 1996 article, the church's Source magazine discussed goals for moving Scientology to the forefront of society and advanced the notion of making "Clearwater known as the first Scientology city in the world."

    "At Flag," the article states, "we are deadly serious about making these goals happen."

    Shaw said the church is attempting to finalize its retail plan for downtown so it can become public. If those plans come to fruition and are released, he said they will be for the benefit of everybody.

    "A beautiful, thriving downtown is something we desire as much as anybody in Clearwater," he said.

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  14. The Wrong Guy Member

    Church of Scientology ups bid for Clearwater Marine Aquarium land to $15 million | Tampa Bay Times

    By Tracey McManus, Times Staff Writer, April 6, 2017


    The Church of Scientology has offered the Clearwater Marine Aquarium nearly four times what the city is scheduled to vote on paying later this month for a vacant downtown property.

    The church offered the aquarium $15 million for the 1.4 acre lot, Scientology spokesman Ben Shaw confirmed, far exceeding the $4.25 million deal the city will decide on closing April 20.

    It is the second time in three weeks Scientology leader David Miscavige has tried to outbid the city — aquarium officials passed on a $12.5 million offer the church made March 11, opting not to sell before the city has a chance to vote.

    Aquarium CEO David Yates said Thursday the nonprofit is committed to selling to the city, and no outside offer, no matter the amount, has changed that.

    "The ball is in the city's hands," Yates said. "Nothing has changed. The offer we gave to the city still stands."

    Shaw said the aquarium's rejection of an offer $10.75 million higher than what the city is poised to pay "calls into question the CMA board's adherence to its fiduciary duty as a charity."

    "The church obviously cannot compete with this inappropriately intimate relationship between the city and CMA and will not be making any further offers," Shaw said.


    Shaw said the aquarium explained its decision to pass on the church's $15 million offer "by the fact that they will get far more in handouts from the city, using taxpayer dollars, and they cannot risk losing this continuing assistance."

    The city currently leases its Harborview Center on Cleveland Street to the aquarium at no cost to display a memorabilia exhibit about Winter the dolphin.

    "The CMA was quite clear on the fact that they are 'partners' with the city," Shaw said.

    More at
    • Like Like x 3
  15. The vast majority of fully dedicated Scientologists, staff and Sea-Org. members in Clearwater, Fl have very little expendable income. Scientology's ghastly overpriced auditing sessions @ $575.00 an hour and absurdly expensive courses have already tapped almost all of their available credit as well. (Another massive Scientology scam is having their members falsify the reasons for credit on their applications. This is called fraud, it's been performed daily for decades within Scientology.)

    Here's a security check question you'll never see a Scientologist asked by their scamming 'Church'.
    ''Have you ever lied on a credit application form?''

    A tapped-out consumer base of Scientologists for an upscale shopping location? Better re-think this one, Clearwater!

    A David Miscavige sponsored business plan that is fully dependent on a steady stream of Non-Scientologists driving to Scientology Town Clearwater to do their shopping is laughable.

    Perhaps all involved in this preposterous plan need to be tested for Mad-Cow Disease.............

    • Like Like x 2
  16. Quentinanon Member

    I find this so ironic that Miscavige is willing to blow US$15,000,000 on a non-essential piece of real estate, but does not pay for a health insurance program for all scientology morg staff. The scientology crime syndicate represents itself as "spiritual" but most revenue gets invested in acquisition and maintenance of real estate.

    Former Assistant Guardian Miami Ben Shaw had this to say, "Shaw said the aquarium's rejection of an offer $10.75 million higher than what the city is poised to pay "calls into question the CMA board's adherence to its fiduciary duty as a charity."
    Fiduciary duty in a real charity does not carry the obligation to sell to the highest bidder, but rather the nature of a contract between a willing seller and fully informed buyer. Ben does not mention that the seller has no interest in doing business with the scientology criminal enterprise.

    "The church obviously cannot compete with this inappropriately intimate relationship between the city and CMA and will not be making any further offers," Shaw said.
    Double standard Ben Shaw. Inappropriately intimate relationships between the city of Clearwater and scientology are just fine by his standards, like hiring Clearwater police officers off-duty to influence them coercively with money. In other words, corruption is all right with scientology as long as they benefit.
    • Like Like x 3
  17. tippytoe Member

    And Scientology files lawsuit against Aquarium and City in 3....2....1..BOOM!
    • Like Like x 2
  18. tippytoe Member

  19. The Wrong Guy Member

    David Miscavige ups the ante in Clearwater game of brinksmanship

    By Tony Ortega, April 7, 2017


    Another excellent report from Tampa Bay Times reporter Tracey McManus revealed yesterday that David Miscavige has upped the Church of Scientology’s offer for a plot of land in downtown Clearwater to $15 million, even though the current owner — an aquarium company — plans to sell the parcel to the city for $4.5 million, which is what the land has been assessed at.

    The aquarium still says it’s committed to selling the parcel to the city, pending a vote by the city council. Why is the aquarium — which is trying to raise money for its own expansion elsewhere — turning its nose up at such a huge amount of cash? And why is David Miscavige so determined to get his hands on the parcel that he’s willing to pay so much over market value?

    The parcel is right next to Scientology’s Fort Harrison Hotel, the most holy location in the “Flag Land Base” that makes up Scientology’s presence in downtown Clearwater. It’s also adjacent to another hotel that the church owns, the Oak Cove. Miscavige has told the city that he wants the land so he can build a swimming pool for visiting Scientologists while they’re in town.

    A swimming pool. Visiting Scientologists are under so much pressure to be interrogated and fleeced while they’re going through the vaunted upper level secret rituals of the Flag Land Base, none of them has time for swimming. So why does Miscavige really want the land so bad? And why won’t the aquarium sell to him?

    Well, keep in mind that the aquarium owns that piece of property because at one time it had grand plans to move from its current location near the beach to that downtown plot. But who ruined that plan? That’s right — it was David Miscavige and the Church of Scientology, working behind the scenes, that reportedly made that project fall apart, and that’s why the company is now selling the land it once had such great plans for. So maybe it’s no wonder that the aquarium company is in no mood to do business with the church.

    As for Miscavige, we asked former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder if the church leader is mostly concerned with simply keeping control of the area.

    “I have said repeatedly – Miscavige wants to keep wogs away,” Rinder says, using the Scientology slang term for non-Scientologists. “He looks at this as a long term proposition. $15 or $20 million is nothing in the overall scheme of things for Scientology. They have hundreds of millions invested in those properties. What if someone built a condo there that overlooks the Fort Harrison and Oak Cove and all those prying wog eyes are watching, 24/7. Catastrophe. So, no price is too high for him and he is going to try to put pressure on the aquarium to do the ‘right thing’ to benefit the aquarium and its cause.”

    It’s quite a tug of war. And as Scientology continues to dwindle in the rest of the world, it’s becoming clear that Miscavige is putting more and more emphasis on Clearwater as the church’s most important location. As we told the NY Post recently, for some time now it’s felt to us like Clearwater is where Miscavige knows that the church will be making a final stand of sorts. And that’s why control over its downtown area is so crucial to him.

    Now, can he spoil the city’s deal for the parcel? It’s great drama, isn’t it?

  20. Quentinanon Member

    At this point, Davey Miscavige likely feels that he MUST win, or he is a downstat. It has become an internal public relations issue for him now. I recall Hubbard wrote a Guardian Office only definition of good public relations, "Effective cause well demonstrated."
    And Davey Boy is trying to demonstrate effective cause well.
    We can only imagine the frustration he feels in his psychopathic mind.
    • Like Like x 3
  21. The Wrong Guy Member

    You Paid For It: Clearwater at crossroads with $4.5 million proposed city land purchase

    By Mark Douglas, WFLA


    Ten days from now, the Clearwater City Council will vote whether or not to spend $4.25 million dollars on a land purchase that essentially marks the first building block of its ambitious Imagine Clearwater plan to redevelop the city’s downtown waterfront.

    If only it were that easy. The purchase of a parcel owned by the Clearwater Aquarium located just south of City Hall is wrought with controversy and conflict because the Church of Scientology wants that same land and is reportedly willing to pay $15 million for it – that’s more than three times the city’s offer.

    The Aquarium insists it is committed to giving the city first dibs on the purchase, but that sale may come with strings attached given Scientology’s eagerness to close the deal first.

    Imagine Clearwater – a strategic plan by consultants commissioned by the city – envisions a $50 million or more makeover of the downtown waterfront district to revitalize it and spur new commercial growth and housing.

    Clearwater’s downtown business district has existed – quite literally – in the shadow of Scientology’s World Headquarters for years. Imagine Clearwater is a renewed effort to redefine that identity to attract visitors who are not already in Clearwater because of their affiliation with Scientology.

    At the same time, Scientology’s leader David Miscavige has been privately lobbying the Mayor and City Council with his own grand vision for a downtown facelift with church investments and he promises to revitalize much of the same area.

    After decades of languishing in the shadow of sparkling Clearwater Beach where new hotels are growing like mushrooms these days, the impending land purchase decision is a good problem to have – yet a thorny one.

    In tonight’s You Paid For It report at 5:30, we’ll take a closer look at the issue at hand, and delve into the crystal ball of downtown Clearwater’s future that is now in the hands of the City Council and your money.

    • Like Like x 2
  22. Quentinanon Member

    When will the Fair Game begin and who will be the targets?
    Gosh, I would love to see multiple RICO suits against the scientology crime syndicate.
    FBI to the courtesy phone.
    • Like Like x 1
  23. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology leader David Miscavige presents Clearwater retail plan to downtown stakeholders

    By Tracey McManus, Times Staff Writer, April 12, 2017


    Scientology leader David Miscavige hosted downtown stakeholders and parishioners at the Fort Harrison Hotel on Tuesday evening for an invitation-only presentation about his retail and entertainment plan for downtown.

    After a reception on the rooftop patio, guests were seated for the nearly two-hour presentation where Miscavige described the church's plan to pay for a facade redesign of Cleveland Street storefronts between Osceola and Myrtle avenues. He also described the church's ongoing use of consultants to recruit retailers, restaurants and other businesses to downtown, which if achieved, would be deployed all at once, said Signworx owner Leif Oskarsson.

    "Sitting there and watching this just stunned everybody," Oskarsoon said of the video and renderings. "It was so gorgeous."

    Scientology spokesman Ben Shaw denied a Tampa Bay Times reporter's request to attend the meeting. Miscavige has not made a presentation to the general public but held private meetings with the City Council about the plan March 14.

    Miscavige said the redevelopment could cost about $8 million and the church has already invested about $30 million in the plan, which has included hiring of the consultants and purchasing key downtown properties in recent months, said former Mayor Frank Hibbard, who said he accepted the day-of invitation "so I could formulate an informed opinion."

    Hibbard said "it was not explicit but it was implied" by Miscavige that this Scientology-funded overhaul of downtown hinged on the church's ability to buy a 1.4 acre waterfront lot owned by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

    The city is scheduled to vote on buying the property at the corner of Osceola Avenue and Pierce Streets on April 20 for $4.25 million. The aquarium rejected the church's $15 million offer for the property earlier this month, opting instead to sell to the city.

    The church wants the property, which is adjacent to its 13-story Oak Cove religious retreat to build a swimming pool, playground and other accommodations for parishioners. The city has included the lot, which also sits across the street from City Hall, in its 10-year $55 million downtown waterfront revitalization plan that was unveiled in February.

    "It comes down to execution and commitment and the way the city and the church are right now, I think some things have to change," Hibbard said. "There's trust issues with all parties involved. And I think to make something like that work, I don't know if you can overcome them. I think the church needs to show the public the plan and let the court of public opinion really drive whether this is viable or not."

    Alongside downtown business and property owners, the church also hosted actors and noted Scientologists John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Kirstie Alley and pianist Chick Corea.

    Downtown property owner Terry Tsafatinos said the plan was impressive and the church's offer to bankroll the infrastructure and recruiting efforts is intriguing. But he said the city and church would have to work together for it to come to fruition, and he said that relationship isn't where it should be.

    "I'd like to see it happen, but it's a dream," Tsafatinos said. "I don't believe the church could do by itself and I don't think the city can do by itself either."

    This is a developing story. Check later for a complete report.

  24. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology’s celebrities to the rescue! John Travolta shills while Jenna Elfman melts down

    By Tony Ortega, April 13, 2017


    Tampa Bay Times reporter Tracey McManus had another great piece yesterday, this time about Scientology leader David Miscavige holding a briefing Tuesday night at the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida for local business owners to wow them about his plans for revitalizing the city’s dead downtown. But Tracey really buried the lead on her story. You had to read nearly to the end to find out just how serious Miscavige was about impressing the locals. He brought out the big guns — John Travolta, Kelly Preston, and Kirstie Alley!

    One of the people invited was Leif Oskarsson, who owns the Signworx store on Cleveland Street. Leif posted photos of the three big celebs and a shot of himself with Travolta to his Facebook page.


    “Sitting there and watching this just stunned everybody,” Oskarsson told McManus for her story. “It was so gorgeous. … How can you not welcome the help financially to help the city of Clearwater come alive again?”

    OK, sure. But what about the celebrities, man! We tried to call Signworx but no one answered, and we sent Leif an email asking him if he could tell us something about how the celebrities were used in Miscavige’s big presentation. We hope he gets back to us about that. We’re sure it was a hoot.

    Now, we’re only half joking about this. We really do think the presence of the celebrities is as important as anything else that happened Tuesday in that presentation. If you remember, Miscavige couldn’t get anyone better than Jenna and Bodhi Elfman to last year’s grand opening of the new Los Angeles media studios that he spent a crapload on, and that was a pretty big moment for the church. So for this trio to show up at the Fort Harrison Tuesday night should give you some idea that for Miscavige, the current situation in Clearwater with the city council is a VERY BIG DEAL.

    To help understand why that is, we decided to try and visualize things a bit better with the help of the city’s $55 million plan for resurrecting downtown, which they call “Imagine Clearwater.”

    (We’re guessing the original title was more like “Imagine Clearwater Without Scientology,” but these things tend to get edited for sensitivity. Ahem.)

    So, to get a sense of what the city is trying to do, we pulled this slide out of the Imagine Clearwater presentation about how the goal is to revitalize the waterfront, which will increase the pedestrian traffic and fortunes of Osceola Avenue and Cleveland Street.

    Continued at
  25. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology invited local business owners to its Clearwater celeb party. Well, except one.

    By Tony Ortega, April 14, 2017


    On Tuesday, Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige invited the business and property owners of Clearwater, Florida’s Cleveland Street for a really unusual private presentation at the Fort Harrison Hotel, centerpiece of the church’s Flag Land Base that takes up much of Clearwater’s downtown area.

    Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times revealed that Miscavige had invited the Cleveland Street “stakeholders” to pitch them on his plans for a revitalized downtown, and he’d even brought along top Scientology celebrities John Travolta, Kelly Preston, and Kirstie Alley to bolster his pitch. (And we spotted Scientology billionaire Bob Duggan in photos of the event as well.)

    Miscavige is trying to throw a wrench into the city’s $55 million, 10-year redevelopment plan it calls “Imagine Clearwater,” the city’s latest attempt to resuscitate a town that was invaded by the church (operating under a fake name) in 1975, and that has been strangled of life in the decades since by Scientology’s presence. One of the elements of that plan is a 1.4-acre parcel that an aquarium company has committed to sell to the city for $4.25 million, pending a vote by the city council next week. But Miscavige wants to derail that transaction, offering not only $15 million for the parcel, but also promising to spend some $8 million for new facades on the buildings along Cleveland Street.

    Based on what one of those Cleveland Street business owners, Leif Oskarsson, told us yesterday, Miscavige was clever to pit those stakeholders against the city’s plan. We don’t know, however, if that will be enough to derail next week’s vote.

    Anyway, at some point yesterday, we realized that there was one Cleveland Street business owner we hadn’t noticed in any of the reporting or photographs of the event, and so we gave him a call.

    Lucky Anchor pub owner Clay Irwin seemed to know why we were calling.

    “I wasn’t invited,” he said. “And I’m hot. I’m really unhappy about it.”

    If there’s someone who symbolizes the city’s struggle to revitalize despite the presence of the Church of Scientology, it might be Clay Irwin. In December, he opened his pub on Cleveland Street and talked optimistically about bringing life back to the downtown district — and with the involvement of the church. On his Facebook page, Irwin posted photos of Scientology workers visiting his bar like they were all fraternity brothers. And he’s told us that he was happy to be in the church’s shadow and didn’t perceive any problem with them.

    But that was before the trouble started.

    Continued at
  26. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology is No. 1 with No. 2! Or, how the Church of David Miscavige stinks up Clearwater

    By Tony Ortega, April 16, 2017


    We’re getting very excited about Thursday’s city council vote in Clearwater, Florida which may be that town’s last opportunity to rescue its downtown from becoming Scientology’s fortress against the outside world.

    The council will be voting on whether to purchase a 1.4-acre parcel for $4.25 million that lies between City Hall and a couple of important Scientology landmarks, including the Fort Harrison Hotel, the centerpiece of Scientology’s “Flag Land Base.” The city wants the parcel to help build tourism and pedestrian traffic downtown. The last thing Scientology wants are outsiders near its facilities, and church leader David Miscavige has offered $15 million for the parcel if the city will vote against buying it.

    One of the ways that Scientology tries to sway locals (and it appears to be working, judging by our conversation with one local business owner, Leif Oskarsson), is by claiming that, against all visual evidence to the contrary, the church is actually a boon to the local economy and the tax-exempt organization still somehow pays more property taxes than anyone.

    Well, we’re not so sure about that. We had a look at the city of Clearwater’s latest financial report, for the year 2014-2015, and it lists the top ten property tax payers in town. Here they are:

    Continued at
  27. The Wrong Guy Member

  28. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientologists and others step up the pressure as Clearwater nears vote on prized parcel | Tampa Bay Times

    By Tracey McManus, Times Staff Writer, April 18, 2017


    The $19 million Skyview condo being built downtown with a penthouse for actor Tom Cruise could be the last investment developer Cleman Agami ever makes in the city.

    That will be one of the consequences if the City Council votes Thursday to buy a 1.4 acre vacant lot the Church of Scientology also is lobbying to purchase, Agami warned in an email to City Council member Bill Jonson.

    By buying the Pierce Street property, the city would be sabotaging "over $60 million in hard cash investments" from the church, Agami, a Scientologist, wrote, referring to a proposal by church leader David Miscavige to bankroll a retail and entertainment overhaul in downtown, provided he gets control of the waterfront parcel.

    "Today I had to confront the harsh reality of a City Council plagued by bigotry and bias and we want no part of it," Agami wrote on Friday. "Downtown needs that investment and the city doesn't have it to give it. The church does. Please don't stand in their way!"

    His message is one of dozens that have flooded council members' email boxes in recent weeks as they prepare for Thursday's scheduled vote on whether to buy the downtown parcel from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The lobbying has come from both sides — Scientologists who say the church can single-handedly revitalize the sleepy downtown, and other residents who fear its redevelopment offer is a cloaked scheme to control more land, excluding the general public.

    "We all know (Scientology) cannot be trusted," Dianne Schuldt wrote in an email to council members. "Talk is easy, but they have not told the truth many times. Downtown development is your job. Things are looking better with your new plan for the waterfront. Do not give up the land that the aquarium is willing to sell to you."

    In a work session Monday, city staff recommended the council buy the property to complement the city's 10-year, $55 million waterfront redevelopment plan. Staff said the land could be coupled with the City Hall property across the street and redeveloped into a hotel, condos and apartments, retail or other uses.

    Community Redevelopment Agency Director Seth Taylor said the location overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway and close to the downtown core makes it a "signature parcel" ripe for public use.

    "You could not ask for a better location than this particular piece of property," Taylor said. "This is an opportunity for our city to do some real city building. We have an opportunity to develop this parcel and create a new skyline for our downtown."

    The property is adjacent to Scientology's Oak Cove religious retreat and across the street from its Fort Harrison Hotel and international spiritual headquarters. The church has been trying to buy it to build a playground, pool and other accommodations for parishioners, according to Scientology spokesman Ben Shaw.

    The aquarium rejected the church's $15 million offer for the property earlier this month in favor of giving the city the chance to vote on buying it for $4.25 million on Thursday.

    Miscavige has not released his retail and entertainment plan to the public, which proposes a total renovation of Cleveland Street's facade and use of consultants to recruit high-end retailers and businesses to fill vacant storefronts. However, he showed it to City Council members in individual meetings March 14, and to about 70 downtown stakeholders and parishioners at a private meeting last week.

    In a statement Monday, Shaw said the plan fulfills a recommendation made in 2014 by the Urban Land Institute that the city and church work together to revitalize downtown. He confirmed the redevelopment plans "are dependent on the church being able to complete the Oak Cove retreat" by buying the adjacent aquarium property.

    A council decision to buy the land "will ensure downtown remains a ghost town while it continues to blame the church for its own incompetence," Shaw said.

    Natalie Nagengast, owner of the Saturday downtown farmers market, urged her vendors in an email last week to petition the council to partner with the church for the redevelopment. On Monday, Nagengast told the Downtown Development Board in an email she has pulled her proposal for an indoor market, explaining "hopefully there will be many more businesses downtown coming soon and we can revisit the project."

    Nagengast, a member of the church, did not respond to a request for comment on whether her cancelation of the indoor market was a reaction to city's efforts to buy the aquarium property.

    Vice Mayor Hoyt Hamilton said many of the Scientologists who have emailed him on the issue have promised to stop spending money downtown if the city buys the land.

    But Hamilton said he is planning to vote for the purchase because the city can redevelop it to benefit all 110,000 Clearwater residents — not just Scientology parishioners. Mayor George Cretekos and council member Doreen Caudell also say they have decided to vote on buying the property, making it a majority of the five-member panel in favor of the action.

    "If they're not going to spend their money downtown, they're only hurting their own parishioners," Hamilton said. "If the church doesn't want to invest in downtown, then put their property up for sale and let me bring in someone that wants to buy it who's not a parishioner."

    If you go

    What: Clearwater City Council meeting
    When: Thursday, 6 p.m.
    Where: City Hall 112 S. Osceola Ave., third floor chambers

    The council will vote on buying a 1.4 acre parcel of land owned by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for $4.25 million. Public comment will be allowed before the vote.

  29. The Wrong Guy Member

    Column: Clearwater should buy downtown aquarium property | Tampa Bay Times

    By Doreen Caudell


    The city of Clearwater possesses the energetic, determined individuals necessary to broadly enrich our beautiful community. These leaders are busy making the city more accommodating to energy and liveliness. My fellow council members, city staff, our business and community leaders and our impassioned residents have the leadership resources to stimulate sustained economic growth throughout Clearwater.

    The council has identified vibrancy, especially downtown, as being important for the future of our city. With expert consultants, we built an interconnected plan to foster economic activity in needy areas. I supported the innovative vision my fellow council members championed when they commissioned all components of the overall economic development plan.

    I applaud the ongoing management of those components: Imagine Clearwater, the US 19 Corridor Redevelopment Plan, the Crest Lake Park Master Plan, the North Marina Master Plan and the Cleveland Street Redevelopment Plan. The completion of these synchronized projects will broaden the potential for the next generation of business and residential growth throughout Clearwater. The public investment for these initiatives will inspire private investment, showing Clearwater as open for business.

    Moreover, I attribute the initial success of our economic development efforts to the incredible staff manning Clearwater's Planning and Development Department, Economic Development and Housing Department, and the Community Redevelopment Agency. These departments are guiding Clearwater's economic initiatives, ensuring they equitably contribute to our residents' livelihood.

    During the design and planning phases of the development plans, our city staff championed a community based development approach. This means pursing a method that promotes and encourages the true voices of our community. By engaging a diverse array of business and community leaders, and residents throughout Clearwater, city staff optimized stakeholder participation and input. The plans meet the expressed needs of the community. This guarantees an outcome with the most potential for lasting success.

    All of our economic development efforts have included public input. For example, city staff hosted public workshops at a variety of locations for residents to help steer Imagine Clearwater. These efforts translated into the beautiful plan that City Council recently unanimously accepted.

    Our wholesome efforts to improve Clearwater will continue to champion community involvement. The community based development approach provides city residents a voice to guide the comprehensive redevelopment efforts touching their community, and I am a strong supporter of that approach. The most important source of leadership we have as a community, is our community itself. It is all of us, collectively.

    I will continue to ensure that the public has a seat at the table, and our citizens are our most important stakeholders.

    That, fundamentally, is the reason I declined the Church of Scientology's request for an individual private meeting. The development of their retail strategy included no opportunities for the public to express their desires for the plan. How can I support a plan which shunned public involvement? The people of the City of Clearwater elect me, and I intend to represent their concerns.

    That is why we will vote Thursday to purchase the Clearwater Marine Aquarium parcel just south of City Hall. Imagine Clearwater, a prototypical example of the community based development approach, encourages City Council to facilitate energy and activation along Osceola Avenue.

    Based on the input gathered from the Imagine Clearwater's community workshops, we have been asked by the community to ensure this parcel of land provides additional value back to downtown: "[It] will anchor the south end of the park and Osceola corridor, and support Phase 2 buildout of the waterfront and Bluff." Therefore, it is our job to do what is best for all of Clearwater.

    I urge the Church of Scientology to be more open to partnerships. A united downtown will yield better economic results for all stakeholders. But that requires mutual, coordinated steps toward compromise.

    The City of Clearwater and downtown business advocacy groups understand that transparency and communication are key components of proper collaboration. Indeed, all stakeholders must adhere to the principles of integrity, communication and inclusivity.

    We all must exemplify authenticity, truthfulness, and compromise, and there is opportunity for that, especially now.

    Doreen Caudell is a member of the Clearwater City Council.

    • Like Like x 1
  30. The Wrong Guy Member

    Editorial: Clearwater City Council should stand up to Church of Scientology | Tampa Bay Times

    A Times Editorial


    This is a defining moment that tests the independence and courage of the Clearwater City Council and the leaders of one of the city's venerable institutions, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The Church of Scientology has pressured them to cancel the aquarium's sale to the city of a key downtown parcel by offering millions for the property, fancy downtown redevelopment plans and private meetings with Scientology leader David Miscavige. The choice is clear: Stand up to the intimidation and complete the land sale — or surrender and cede downtown to Scientology forever.

    The City Council will vote Thursday night on a $4.25 million contract with the aquarium to buy the 1.4 acre vacant lot adjacent to City Hall along the downtown bluff. The aquarium bought the property as part of a plan to combine it with the City Hall property and build a new aquarium that could have been the cornerstone for a revitalized downtown. Voters took a reasonable leap of faith and approved the deal, but it ultimately did not work out and the aquarium has agreed to sell the unneeded parcel to the city.

    Scientology, of course, won't take no for an answer. It has upped its offer to the aquarium for the land next to its 13-story Oak Cove retreat from $12.5 million to $15 million — more than three times the city's offer. Miscavige also has met with City Council members individually and held invitation-only meetings to pitch Scientology's plan to pay for a renovation of downtown Cleveland Street's facade, recruit retailers and fill storefronts. The unsubtle message: Let us buy the land, and Scientology will be your downtown savior.

    Let Scientology buy this land, and write off downtown Clearwater forever as a fully occupied territory. The city could never sell the City Hall site next door to an independent developer, and Scientology would be waiting to scoop it up as well. If Clearwater has learned anything since Scientology secretly invaded the city four decades ago, it is that the church cannot be trusted and is not interested in equal partnerships. It already is the largest downtown property owner, and it bought more land last year after telling city officials it wouldn't.

    Voters placed their faith in the aquarium and the city when they supported their vision on the bluff. The aquarium has an obligation to repay that faith by sticking with its contract to sell the vacant land to the city. And City Council members have a duty to approve the contract and act in the best interest of all of their constituents, not just Scientology members. Clearwater's downtown should not be for sale at any price, and to cave now would dishonor elected officials and civic leaders who were brave enough over the years to stand up to intimidation from such a powerful outside force.

    Scientology wants total control, and a spokesman's claim this week that it is fulfilling an Urban Land Institute suggestion that the city and the church work together is laughable. Scientology is absurdly aggressive now because it recognizes downtown's tide finally could be turning. The downtown Capitol Theatre operated by Ruth Eckerd Hall is a jewel. Clearwater and Pinellas County are discussing building a new government center together, which would free the City Hall site and the vacant land at issue for major redevelopment. A $55 million plan to overhaul the waterfront and improve an outdoor concert venue has been approved. And the dramatic makeover of Clearwater Beach could provide new opportunities for downtown as tourists shuttle back and forth.

    The Clearwater City Council should approve the contract to buy the aquarium's land tonight and move forward. Succumb to Scientology's pressure now, and write off downtown for good as L. Ron Hubbardville.

    • Like Like x 1
  31. The Wrong Guy Member

    As Clearwater votes, here’s a reminder of how L. Ron Hubbard had Scientology invade Florida

    By Tony Ortega, April 20, 2017


    It’s a big day for Clearwater, Florida as its city council votes tonight whether to purchase for $4.25 million a 1.4-acre parcel of land that’s key to its redevelopment plans downtown, and to defy the Church of Scientology, whose leader David Miscavige has said he’s willing to pay $15 million for the same empty lot.

    Tonight’s vote will be the latest test of the Gulf Coast town’s resolve in the 42 years since Scientology literally invaded the city to make it a permanent base of operations. Since then, Scientology has taken over more and more properties downtown, turning it into a creepy ghost town while other nearby Tampa Bay communities have thrived.

    Tampa Bay Times reporter Tracey McManus has been doing great work informing residents in the area of what’s at stake and what’s really behind Scientology’s offers to buy the parcel and pay for its own version of downtown redevelopment. She recently quoted, for example, from Scientology scripture to show how the church is really determined to make Clearwater a “Scientology city,” something our own Rod Keller had also pointed out from church literature.

    But we wonder if it still hasn’t sunk in for some locals about how Scientology really thinks about Clearwater and what it’s doing there. We thought, perhaps it’s best if they heard directly from the man himself — Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

    In 1975, Hubbard was tired of running Scientology from sea. Since 1967, he’d been operating the organization from the bridge of the Apollo, the flagship of his little three-ship armada which plied the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and then the Caribbean, getting kicked out of more and more ports and countries. That period was interrupted by the ten months Hubbard spent hiding out in an apartment in Queens, New York with his medical officer, a young medical school dropout named Jim Dincalci, and a bodyguard. They hid in Queens from December 1972 to September 1973 while the Apollo was in drydock in Portugal and while French agents were looking for Hubbard to question him. They eventually returned to the Apollo, which made its way to the Caribbean in 1974.

    After another year at sea, Hubbard was ready to get back to land, and once again he turned to Dincalci, asking him to set up a place for him and his wife Mary Sue and their personal staff to stay as they returned to the US.
    Hubbard had already chosen Daytona, Florida, as a temporary home as he considered several other places for a permanent base, eventually settling on Clearwater.

    But as he gave Dincalci instructions for how to maintain secrecy as he found a place for Hubbard and Mary Sue finally to come back to land, a tape recorder was running. We checked with Dincalci yesterday, and he tells us the tape is genuine. It’s bounced around places like WWP for years, as has a partial transcript. We cleaned up the audio a bit, and tried to improve the transcript. We didn’t have time to turn the transcript into captions for our video, but you can still read along with the transcript as the audio is playing.

    It’s a revealing recording because it’s rare to hear Hubbard speaking to a single person and not to an audience. You can really tell the difference. Also, it’s educational to hear the way he barks at the poor little “Commodore’s Messenger” who comes into the room trying to bring him some proper maps. You really get a sense of what it was like to be around LRH in private as he tears into the young girl.

    After getting settled at Daytona, Hubbard would then begin the invasion of Clearwater itself, which was referred to as “Project Normandy” in Scientology papers. Under a fake name, the United Churches of Florida, Hubbard’s agents sneaked into town and bought up two of downtown’s landmarks, the Fort Harrison Hotel and the Clearwater Bank Building. The takeover of Clearwater had begun.

    Residents of Clearwater, listen to the way L. Ron Hubbard speaks about sneaking into Florida. This is the man current church leader David Miscavige worships and does his best to emulate.

    [Transcript snipped]

    As for tonight’s vote, we can all follow along as the city council meeting is streamed live. We’ll see if we can embed the video here when it happens.

    The meeting will be at 6 pm, and the parcel vote appears to be last on the meeting’s agenda.

    More at
  32. The Wrong Guy Member

    Clearwater City Council votes tonight on buying land eyed by Church of Scientology | Tampa Bay Times

    By Tracey McManus, Times Staff Writer, April 20, 2017


    The City Council will vote today on whether to purchase a 1.4 acre vacant lot from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which the Church of Scientology is also lobbying to buy.

    Scientology leader David Miscavige's promise to revitalize downtown with infrastructure improvements, retail recruitment and an entertainment complex with actor Tom Cruise is contingent on the church's ability to buy the aquarium land, according to spokesman Ben Shaw.

    City staff is recommending the council buy the lot, which is across the street from City Hall at the corner of Pierce Street and Osceola Avenue, to redevelop the parcels into a hotel, condo, retail or other uses. Staff says improving the Osceola Avenue artery into downtown is a feature of the city's 10-year, $55 million overhaul of the nearby waterfront and Coachman Park.

    The church wants the property, which borders its Oak Cove religious retreat and is across the street from its landmark Fort Harrison Hotel, to build a swimming pool, playground and other accommodations for parishioners, Shaw said.

    Miscavige has not released details of his retail plan to the public but has showed it to council members in individual meetings March 14. He also presented it to about 70 hand-selected downtown stakeholders and parishioners at a private meeting last week.

    The aquarium rejected the church's $15 million offer for the land earlier this month in favor of allowing the city to vote on a $4.25 million contract.

    The council will discuss the issue at its regular meeting tonight, beginning at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 112 S Osceola Ave.

    This is a developing story. Check back with for a complete report.

  33. The Wrong Guy Member

    Live: Clearwater City Council set to vote on land coveted by the Church of Scientology | Tampa Bay Times

    By Tracey McManus, Times Staff Writer, April 20, 2017


    The stage is set as the City Council prepares to settle a question that has been simmering for months: Who should own a prized, 1.4-acre piece of land bordering the downtown bluff?

    The Church of Scientology has offered the Clearwater Marine Aquarium $15 million for the property and has said it will revitalize downtown with a retail overhaul and entertainment complex if it succeeds. But the aquarium has said it will honor an agreement to sell the land to the city for $4.25 million. The council, which meets at 6 p.m., will vote on that deal tonight after taking public comment.

    Three of the five council members have said they favor buying the land, a stance that has drawn criticism from the church and some of its parishioners. Church officials have indicated that their downtown revitalization proposal hinges on whether they acquire the aquarium property, which they would use to expand their Oak Cove religious retreat on Osceola Avenue.

    Meanwhile, city staff is recommending that the council buy the land as part of Clearwater's 10-year, $55 million overhaul of the nearby waterfront and Coachman Park.

    A Tampa Bay Times news team is at City Hall to report on tonight's developments. Follow Tracey McManus (@TroMcManus), Laura C. Morel (@lauracmorel), Jim Damaske (@DamaskeJim) and Charlie Kaijo (@charliekjo) on Twitter and watch for updates on

  34. The Wrong Guy Member

    Tracey McManus @TroMcManus 45 seconds ago
    Council chambers filling up but land vote is last item on the agenda.
    It's up to the mayor if he wants to move it up.

    Tracey McManus‏ @TroMcManus 10 seconds ago
    In a year and a half of covering #Clearwater City Hall, I can safely say this is the biggest turnout for a council meeting I've seen.

    Tony Ortega‏ @TonyOrtega94 7 seconds ago
    Clearwater council tonight will vote to buy downtown parcel that #Scientology wanted.
    Question: What will David Miscavige do in retaliation?
  35. The Wrong Guy Member

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  36. Imagine Clearwater is Imaginary Clearwater.

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