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:
The county’s list for 2016 is a little different, but still no Church of Scientology…
As for just the downtown development area of Clearwater, Scientology does dominate, and if you added together its $37 million in assessed property here, it would crack the top ten for the whole city…
So these figures would suggest to us that despite its tax-exempt status, the church does own a significant amount of property that is taxable, at least. We’d love to hear from some local experts who can help us drill down into these numbers even more.
But we also wanted to show you another ranking that we found in the city’s year-end report because, well, it made us chuckle.
Here then is the list of top users of Clearwater’s sewer system…
Hey, at least the Church of Scientology is number one at something in Clearwater.
Ron Miscavige strikes back
After being slimed for nearly a year with attack websites set up by his own son, Ron Miscavige is putting up his own website to present his own side of things.
Give it a spin and let us know what you think.
Chris Shelton on loaded language
Says Chris: “On this week’s Sensibly Speaking Podcast, I talk about loaded language, one of the key control mechanisms of any destructive cult and perhaps one of the most powerful of the weapons in Scientology’s arsenal. I give some examples from Scientology of how they redefine terms to actually control how people think and act. It’s crazy stuff, but hey, that’s Scientology.”
Bonus items from our tipsters
Actual caption by manager Karen Renna (Patrick’s mom): “MICHAEL D. ROBERTS booked a supporting role in the film A STAR IS BORN starring BRADLEY COOPER & LADY GAGA. Hearty congratulations!”
Says our tipster: “In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 reboot, Episode 3, ‘Time Travelers,’ there’s a scene with a woman working on an android’s head, you hear the quip, ‘Ah, now she’s testing the android’s body thetans with her E-meter, and now it owes her a $100,000.'”
Countdown to Denver!
HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25. Go here to start making your plans.
Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,721 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,824 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,318 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,358 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,070 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 596 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,685 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,825 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,145 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,120 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 476 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,778 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 885 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,287 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,160 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 741 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,246 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,490 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,599 days.
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield