By now you’ve probably heard that the city of Clearwater is the proud owner of a 1.4-acre parcel of downtown land after its city council voted unanimously to purchase it from an aquarium company and defy the Church of Scientology, which wanted the plot for its own uses.
The parcel sits between City Hall and two of Scientology’s Clearwater landmarks, the Fort Harrison and Oak Cove hotels, where wealthy Scientologists come from around the world to pay for expensive auditing levels they can get nowhere else.
Miscavige said he wanted the plot for a swimming pool for guests at the Oak Cove, which was farcical. The real reason, former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder told us, was to keep non-Scientologists away from the Fort Harrison, the church’s holiest spot on Earth.
But at last night’s city council meeting, no Scientologists or church executives came forward to speak during the time for public comment before the council’s vote. And one person who did come forward to speak really stole the show.
It was our own Dee Findlay, longtime Underground Bunker reader and Clearwater resident, whom we wrote about in 2013 when her activity at this website got her declared a “suppressive person” by the church.
We knew her story, but still, what she said at the meeting knocked us over. After a faltering start about what she intended to talk about, she found her footing…
What I’d like to say — which I haven’t, and before I die, and I’m 80, I’ll be 81 soon. And I hadn’t had the nerve to say it before: I’m sorry. And I apologize to the citizens of Clearwater for being a volunteer covert operator for the organization in the early 80s….
I thought I was helping. I was a good member of the church. And I thought they needed my help with their enemies. But that’s not true. I found that out later.
Of all the speakers, her message was the most personal. We talked to her after the meeting, and after the council had voted 5-0 to purchase the parcel and keep it out of Scientology’s hands.
“When they voted I yelled a great wahoo, really loud. I couldn’t help it,” she says.
Dee started in Scientology in 1972, and by the early 1980s she was so dedicated, she volunteered for Scientology’s spy wing.
In one operation, she managed to get a volunteer receptionist job working for city commissioner Richard Tenney at his hot-tub store. He was running for re-election at the time, and Dee’s job was to see who was donating to his campaign.
“When checks came in, I would write down who wrote them, and I was also turning over addresses and amounts to the church,” she says. Tenney lost re-election.
We asked her what the church’s attitude was to the city and its leaders.
“They believed that it was their town, and they had to get rid of all their enemies,” she says. “It took a long time for me to realize that no, they don’t own Clearwater.”
She left Scientology for several years before she was briefly sucked back in about six years ago. Since then, she’s wanted to say something to the people of her town.
“I finally did it. I wanted to go and apologize to the citizens of Clearwater.”
She shared with us a fun vignette from the night’s long meeting. Although no Scientologists came up to the podium to speak, there was at least one member of the church in the audience.
“I was actually sitting next to a Scientologist,” Dee says. She describes their conversation:
“I was a Scientologist in the 70s,” Dee told her.
“So was I! In Seattle.”
“Are you getting up to speak?”
“I don’t think so, are you?”
“Yeah, I’m going to.”
“For or against?”
“For the city.”
“Are you OSA?” Dee says she asked, referring to the spy division she used to volunteer for.
“Well I was for a little while,” Dee told her. After Dee went to deliver her remarks, when she returned to her seat the woman was gone.
We told her that her words produced a huge reaction here at the website last night.
“I had to do it. I needed to do it,” she says.
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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