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.
And a tape recorder was running as Hubbard gave Dincalci instructions for how to maintain secrecy as he found a place for Hubbard and Mary Sue finally to come back to land. 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.
Hubbard: I’m sending you out tomorrow on a Flag Project Order, un-numbered. Uh, you will have the original here. And the mission purpose is as adverbally briefed. And the major target is to accomplish your project within three days. Primary target the transport, some money, and proceed. And the vital target is to accomplish the project flawlessly and within three days of arrival. And operating targets obtained 49, 99, money from B. Livingston. Ah, obtain your air tickets, proceed, reach your project. Telex completion, stand by as briefed. Ah, telephone com, and telephone RONY [Relay Office New York], obtain their number. You have to obtain their number, obtain RONY’s number. And on completion of the project send the following telex: “Date to R, got it.” That’s all. And you will leave your phone number and address as a message to M. Full name, at, and that of course, that M, ah, is just a name, is just a letter to be on here. But ah, it would be something on the order of ah… Kima Douglas. (To Commodore’s Messenger) Oh my god no, will you put down that. Get the road map, the road maps. Go on pick that up. Fast … Fast (To Dincalci). The ah, you give it to Kima Douglas.
Dincalci: I didn’t get that last part you mentioned, to M. I didn’t get it…Get what that was exactly.
Hubbard: What are you…
Hubbard: All right, that’s just a code.
Dincalci: Code, code word, OK.
Hubbard: That means Kima
Dincalci: I didn’t know this, what this is for I got the first…
Hubbard: I’ll give you all about this.
Dincalci: Oh, OK.
Hubbard: I’m just reading you your project orders.
Dincalci: Oh, all right.
Hubbard: Now, you have to leave that at the Miami Springs Hotel, Motel. Pardon me, the Holiday Inn. Miami Springs, 1111 South Royal P–O–I–N–C–I–A–N–A, Poinciana Boulevard, at Miami Springs. And the phone number is 885–1941.
Dincalci: Holiday Inn Motel, Miami Springs, 1111 South Royal Poinciana Boulevard
Hubbard: Brother, now hear me. Kima Douglas, Holiday Inn. That is very secret. She doesn’t even know about it. Kima Douglas, Holiday Inn, 1111 South Royal Poinciana Boulevard, Miami Springs, and the telephone number, you get it?
Hubbard: That is right. And you will leave her your address and phone number. All right, that gives the thing, now the reason why…
(Sound of Hubbard typing.)
Hubbard: That’s all, now this merely permits you to go through lines. There are no other copies. And so you don’t tell anybody, anything. You understand?
Dincalci: Yes, sir.
Hubbard: Now that serves as a…That will let you draw the money on your airfare. Now you’ll have to listen carefully because all of this is verbal.
Hubbard: And the reason it’s verbal is because of security. And you’re an expert on that.
Dincalci: Was trained well.
Hubbard: Yes, and the number of notes you take should not be anything, spread around.
Hubbard: But you can take some notes if you want to. You got to have that address. You got to have that. So that you can get your money without my running you around with a messenger and all that sort of thing. Now, you want to pack up your gear. But you won’t be coming back to the ship.
Hubbard: You understand.
Dincalci: Yes, sir.
Hubbard: Now, that stuff which you don’t want to carry, make sure that it’s perfectly packaged with your name on it, and so forth. Other crews’ moorings will be handled similarly. All right?
Dincalci: Yes, sir.
Hubbard: They won’t lose any of your books or things that I care about. In other words, move out, put it in cardboard boxes. Nail it down, fix breakable things so they don’t break.
Dincalci: All right.
Hubbard: Got it. And then your travelling gear. Take what you will need with you for a couple of months. Now, what I want you to do — this is in a high security level — what we’re gonna do is do something which doesn’t look like it’s very high security, so you have to watch it. Ah, there’s nothing out for me, any place. But there’s some people who would love to serve some subpoenas on me, the off beat. And even if they did, that wouldn’t be a total catastrophe because it would simply be protested. And the line of the product would simply be out-ethic, fill out an interrogation or something. It’s just nuisance value. IRS is snarling around one way or the other. And they might sometime in the future, if they don’t grant them non-profit status, why, I…it’s very doubtful if they would ever call me as a witness because it would be almost a fatal move on their part. They tried to in the Hawaii case. At Charleston, simply to delay the case they knew that they had lost everything so they decided they would do that, delay the case and….And they lost it, they lost the case. It was a strategic maneuver on their part, but it was an asinine maneuver. So they can sometime do asinine things too. So we just make it difficult for them. Now, a certain number of crew, particularly aliens and so on, are being put over here on the beach. Not here, and ah, we’ve got the place. It’s all in hand and that’s a staging area and they’re going to be moved from there to a permanent base which we don’t have. We don’t have any permanent base. But we’ve got about five that we’re dickering with. This is, we’ve got some but we want something better. We want it, a better price. Ah, they can be there as long as three months. But this is very touch and go because the ship will be going on then, you see.
Dincalci: Yes, sir.
Hubbard: So we’ve got to have some place to land as a permanent base. Now these cats very often don’t expedite rapidly unless I’m on the lines, right? So I’m gonna be on the lines. But nobody’s gonna know about it, because it’s a very small handful. And this place is at Daytona. And, Daytona’s not in season yet. And the motels and things are all empty up there. And I’m counting on the fact that probably the apartments are too. Now, listen carefully. There will only, there will be about seven in my party with Mary Sue. So you probably have to have about three apartments or something. The longest you will want these things will be about sixty days, but that sounds like vacation time.
Hubbard: So it’s just tourist vacation, good roads and good weather.
Hubbard: Now ah, the name you use is immaterial at this stage of the game. But what did Brunell know us as.
Dincalci: Ah, Larry Harris, Frank Morris, and Don Shannon.
Hubbard: All right. Now you could give him as a reference, say you want to have his address. They don’t even ask…don’t even ask them for anything around when we we’re trying to really rent a place it was just some stinking bankers with the place, that we we’re trying to handle, that were getting nosey. Ah, we were on tenterhooks here trying to get one place, but you’ve got him as a reference, see? There’s no lead goes back to that.
Hubbard: Now, if you figure it out, you got to have some place to cook. Um, a place for Mary Sue, a room for Mary Sue and a room for myself. So probably that your ideal scene would be an apartment for us, with one or two other apartments for the other people right next to it.
Hubbard: And it’s pretty empty at Daytona Beach, which is why I’m saying Daytona Beach. It’s also empty in St. Petersburg, but I don’t want to be down there.
Commodore’s Messenger: They’ve got a bigger one than this but they’re looking for it, just gotta find it. This one goes down to here and then it continues…
Hubbard: And that’s all they got?
Messenger: They’ve got another one but they…
Hubbard: There’s not even any map of Miami on this. What the hell are you talking about, man? There’s usually maps of Greater Miami and the bigger cities. What is this, the eastern seaboard?
Messenger: …actually doesn’t have…
Hubbard: Montreal! Oh, for Christ’s sakes. Oh, for Christ’s sakes! You go down and tell those guys to take the Florida map out of the San Chappy(?) folder, mission folder.
Messenger: All right.
Hubbard: And so on, that’s worthless, man.
Hubbard: That’s Philadelphia! Get outta here.
Messenger: All right, I’ll go and get that one.
Hubbard: Mmmm. It shows where Miami is located.
Hubbard: I want a detailed map of the Miami, Greater Miami area. That’s what I’ve been running into all night … I was just looking at it up here a few days, a day or two ago but… All right, regardless of all that, I was just verifying Miami Springs’ proximity to the airport. All right. Oh, you get the kind of setup this could be.
Dincalci: Now you wouldn’t be, you or Mary Sue wouldn’t be using your regular names then?
Hubbard: Well not necessarily. But you don’t have to tell anybody what our names are.
Dincalci: All right. I’m renting it.
Hubbard: You got a reference. What’s the matter?
Dincalci: Ah, if I’m still gonna be there it’s ah, well I just have to be known by another name, that’s all.
Hubbard: Not at the moment.
Dincalci: That’s fine.
Hubbard: It doesn’t matter. You can rent it under one of the names of the people that are coming.
Dincalci: One of those being Frank Morris or…
Hubbard: Something like that.
Hubbard: See, that will cover your bets.
Hubbard: You didn’t have any real trouble, you usually have the first, last month’s rent or deposit of some kind or another.
Dincalci: Yes, there is, there was one problem on that of the electric bill. I gave a, an address for it to go to but it never, it didn’t get there, I didn’t tell ‘em to…
Hubbard: Did you pay it?
Dincalci: It was never paid.
Hubbard: What did you do, did you ever get a check?
Dincalci: I never got it back. I never got the bill. We sent a letter then to the electric company but nothing…and told them to send it to this other address that we had. But there wasn’t anything that came from it.
Hubbard: Well that’s consolidated, that is, do you think maybe Brunell’s looking for you?
Dincalci: No, but they might have gotten on to him because it was his tenant even though we signed an agreement that we would pay it. And he wouldn’t have anything to do with it. It’s just a, it’s a piece I don’t know. I’m not sure of him, he’d say, yes, it would be OK or…
Hubbard: (Unclear) him in it.
Dincalci: Mmmm… I could even ask him if it would be OK as a reference.
Hubbard: No. You ask him did he ever get the electric bill. “We never got our electric bill, so I’m just calling you up asking how you are,” and so forth, “But nobody ever sent the electric bill.”
Dincalci: All right.
Hubbard: You didn’t send the electric bill. Nobody sent it to the address. Is there anything about it? If there is, why, send it on to…You’ll have to have some address with…
Dincalci: Right. Good.
Hubbard: I wouldn’t cross names. So I don’t know what address you got considered.
Dincalci: There is, I had, we had one address. And I think for Empire we have another box. I could have him send it to that.
Dincalci: That would be, he would never correlate Empire with that. It’s a completely, it’s, there’s no way to trace…
Hubbard: Have we ever traded anything on that, Empire. We still have it.
Dincalci: We still have it.
Hubbard: Well, all right.
Dincalci: And we have this box the G.O. set it up later. And it’s there, for Empire.
Hubbard: All right, all right fine. What, pull ‘em up, you’d have to pull them up anyhow. He’ll probably say no, we never heard from him. See, but you probably won’t need any reference. I wouldn’t volunteer any reference. I’d pull him up anyhow.
Hubbard: So, all right. And ah, tell ‘em you’re just passing through and you’d thought you’d call him out. Down for a vacation. And, be OK if we use him as a reference. You know, he could do that. I wouldn’t give him any, any address before I asked him that.
Hubbard: All right, so anyway, you know what kind of a setup is, is, would be needed. Well it’s actually what kind of a setup is there and available. Now four or five motel rooms, right up against the Neptune, no. So you have to locate where the Neptune is and then you have to go over a few blocks away from there but it’s right at the bottom of Daytona. It’s at the south end of Daytona across the bridge.
Hubbard: Now this puts me on a comm line because I got about six messengers I can trust. The little I.T.’s, no, well that’s, what…
Dincalci: You want it within, like bicycle distance or something like that? So they can…
Hubbard: Yeah, walking distance.
Dincalci: Walking distance.
Hubbard: Yeah, so that they can disappear out of the scene when, with traffic, reappear. Now that I say, it doesn’t look very secure. I think you will find it very secure. Now, I’ll have to look up my, order of spectacles or something of the sort. Ah hell, don’t think I’ll even bother with wearing them. The main thing I’ve got to work out is I’ve got to get them into some permanent quarters, you see, and I really don’t dare be, be far, very far off the lines. And ah, the ah, probably there’s, for sure should be a telephone. Except that of the manager. So this possibility that you can get a phone connected up…
Hubbard: I’m not afraid of my own people. It’s just, um, you’re good. Put me in the firing line to have some subpoena server come up and hit me, something like that. We’ve got quite a few actions, well we got about three or four. One of the guys said he’d love to serve me, he’s a complete nut. So let’s make it difficult. So, there’ll be about seven in the party. As soon as you got it, you got your orders there. But you don’t, you just, you just say, got it. See, well this lets me fire…
Dincalci: Right, and then you would go to that.
Hubbard: And a day later, Mary Sue fires. So I would go to that, that motel.
Dincalci: The address of the place is there.
Hubbard: It will be there and your phone number.
Hubbard: So as soon as I get there, why, I can give you a ring, see. And ah, so Mary Sue will come the next day after me because we don’t fly on the same planes. That’s the reason for that.
Hubbard: And ah, then the rest of the party can come in there. Maybe we stop overnight at the Holiday Inn, catch another plane, while waiting for Mary Sue and then ah, go up. (To Commodore’s Messenger) You decided to run your message. And all people play back these tapes. I’m thinking that’s also hell of a live. Well, we’re getting somewhere now. Your two minor accounts in map form. There you are. There it is, boy. That’s it. That’s it, right there. (To Dincalci) Now, what you do, is you go in here and don’t take a ticket for Daytona.
Hubbard: You just take a ticket for Miami. And when you get there you buy a ticket. I think go to Daytona.
Dincalci: On other airlines.
Hubbard: Oh, it doesn’t matter. Ah, you won’t have any trouble with that. Piece of cake. Now, I think there is a Daytona here. Now, I think there is a map of it. Well, to tell you the truth. Miami, Saint Augustine, Orlando…
Dincalci: It must be part, part of that mission.
Hubbard: Well. (To a third person) No, no, no, no, no, no. You don’t need a pass. (To Dincalci). Ah, they’re all strung out. Daytona’s all strung out along the beach. Here’s Orlando, there’s Daytona, see. And it’s, it’s not in South Daytona. It’s in Daytona. It’s just across the bridge there, at the lower end.
Dincalci: Across the bridge.
Hubbard: Well, you spot where it is, see.
Dincalci: Yes, sir.
Hubbard: All right, and ah, get something fairly posh. Don’t get a dog place.
Dincalci: Like we had here.
Hubbard: No, well, no, no, no. I’m naturally critical of those places
Dincalci: The first one was really nice.
Hubbard: The first one, middle class, oh boy.
Dincalci: Posher than the first one then.
Hubbard: Well yeah, if you can make it. Mary Sue’s not well. Give her a decent environment.
Hubbard: don’t know what they’ve got there. But they may have “condomiums.” And people frantically trying to rent condomiums. But they overbuilt the living daylights out of those things. They started in Daytona.
Hubbard: I don’t care what you spend for this thing for a couple of months. See, I don’t give a damn at all. It’s out of my pay, not the company. This whole thing’s a personal mission. And ah, you give the first and last month’s rent. We don’t care what, too much personal business
Hubbard: It’s off season, for Daytona. Orlando has sorta started and ah, so on. But they really don’t start till the end of December that high up in Florida. And then they really think they’re gonna have a big season. Pay off all their mortgages and so forth. Um, not, this, this year. Ah, recreation travel has dropped 50 percent.
Hubbard: That’s automotive, recreation travel. It’s dropped off. And ah, hotels going broke all over the place, being foreclosed. It’s an untidy scene. But ah, they’re being very unrealistic and blowing their concern on this. Guy was foreclosed yesterday yet business is going to go on as usual. And, uh, that, get the biggest door to door if you can, see. I don’t say you have to get three apartments. They’d probably be the easiest thing to get, vacation apartments, see. I don’t say you have to get that. You might be able to find a house, see, ah I don’t care. You might be able to find anything …… it’s what’s there.
Dincalci: Right, another motel.
Hubbard: Well they don’t have usually kitchenette facilities.
Hubbard: Kitchen facilities.
Dincalci: Kitchen, yes.
Hubbard: Motels are not usually very posh.
Dincalci: That’s true, especially on the beach. People go there for a vacation.
Hubbard: We don’t want to be on the beach. Go inland if you can.
Hubbard: Go on the beach, you can. It doesn’t matter, make sure it’s well up the beach. Or down the beach.
Dincalci: All right, sure.
Hubbard: Now, that puts me on the communication lines, very tight. And ah, telex traffic has been set up for that base. For telex, G.O. telex’s can roar in there for Mary Sue, you see. And ah, a messenger can go for a walk on the beach. Piece of cake.
Hubbard: Then, there will probably be a messenger on duty at the place. There’ll be I.T.’s and so forth on duty over at the other place. This is not the final, the final setup.
Hubbard: But ah, the G.O.’s requested me not to go near the base. Ah, not to go in the base. Or be housed in the base. Ah, because they have some idea that IRS might suddenly get enthusiastic. Or something, whereas, there’s no sigh of this, and they wont. Because if they did they would just be showing the worst faith that anybody ever heard of. And we can hit ‘em and ride ‘em while they’re cowering. They’d love to hit us, but they won’t, they go on out. But it’s the subpoena thing Mary Sue said, she doesn’t want that. Because it causes trouble. Their lawyers have to go on. With getting subpoena withdrawn and all this sort of thing. So they asked me not to be too available in the first little while that I’m in the U.S. What we’re setting up from there is a, is a different setup. Which I hate to trouble you with. Before we get a permanent base, then I’ll know more about the other setup.
Hubbard: You’ll see. But it’s a more complex setup, but communication lines are on. So with this ____ why, we will just be very careful with local security right now. Won’t say anything to anybody. That’s why I wrote those orders. So you can get your money and go. And ah, customs is not going to take a tape on you.
Hubbard: Um well, I don’t know if you have anything to play a tape on.
Dincalci: I could ah, oh I would like to listen to it one more time and then…
Hubbard: All right.
Dincalci: Erase it, even.
Hubbard: Well, you can take it with you, who cares. It’s not in writing.
Hubbard: I don’t know what they would say with a TC-55 coming in.
Dincalci: Oh no, I don’t, I don’t know whether it was bought here.
Hubbard: Couple of these were bought in Las Palmas. And one was bought in New York as you recall.
Dincalci: Oh, that’s right, I can verify that.
Hubbard: I don’t know which one, but they’re all older than two years. That’s all customs ever worries about.
Dincalci: Oh really, I didn’t know that.
Hubbard: So, personal property.
Dincalci: I see this has a little..
Hubbard: Which way…
Dincalci: This little thing, this. That wasn’t on, originally. I bet ya that’s it right there.
Hubbard: I don’t know where the third one is.
Hubbard: (talking to a third person) Faster(?), where’s the third TC-55. Nearly…with these Las Palmasons. I cant even guarantee they’re in their original cases.
Dincalci: This is number one here, that has a look of it.
Dincalci: See that’s the case you said didn’t fit. Completely different case.
Hubbard: Well, anyway…
Dincalci: This is three.
Hubbard: Is this the one. I remember we, we bunged up one side of it. These have been in and out of their cases in LRH A.D.
Dincalci: Oh, I see, yes, could have been put in a different one even.
Hubbard: And they have, they have a battery operated cartridge. Which you can just buy those pen lights for. You don’t want one of these.
Dincalci: The rechargeable.
Hubbard: Rechargeable’s, you want the the pen light if you want to take one. I’ll see if I can’t settle it. This matter may not be of…All right, regardless of that you could listen to it again. And do as you wish. So, that is the extent of it. Are there any questions on this?
Dincalci: No, ah, lets see. I get the place, I go back down to Miami and put the … which is Palma. And leave the message with Kima.
Dincalci: I could, I was looking at a name. I want to keep it pretty legitimate. I could put it into Kima Douglas’s name. Or, because that’s not a, that’s not a, it’s a new, it’s a brand new name.
Hubbard: Yeah, that’s right, but ah, be on the same aircraft.
Dincalci: Oh, I see.
Hubbard: You could, but then it wouldn’t take maybe, wait for you to, you could say you were his secretary.
Dincalci: Mr. Harris’s?
Hubbard: No, Kima Douglas’s secretary. If you want to put it that way.
Hubbard: If you wish. Yeah, those, those are the new ones. Yeah, that’s the original. Do they have numbers on them?
Dincalci: Think so.
Dincalci: Think so, inside by the battery, I think there’s a number….
The quality of the tape deteriorates after this point. We hope to get a transcript of the rest at a later date.
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.
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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…
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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