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Project Normandy, 2015: Paulette Cooper has landed in Clearwater — Scientology’s ‘Mecca’


Now this is going to be fun. We arrived in Clearwater yesterday and reunited with some great people and met plenty of new folks. And it’s all been in advance of perhaps the most anticipated stop on our book tour so far.

In 1975, tired of running Scientology from the sea, L. Ron Hubbard ordered the takeover of downtown Clearwater, Florida in a secret operation he called Project Normandy. Under the name “United Churches of Florida,” Scientology got possession of the Fort Harrison Hotel and other properties before Clearwater Mayor Gabe Cazares knew that his town was under invasion.

It’s forty years later, and Clearwater is still coming to grips with its creepy downtown that’s all but dead except for the young Sea Org members walking around or being bussed from one Scientology building to another.

In 2013, a plan was proposed to open a new aquarium at the south end of Coachman Park, replacing the smaller facility nearer the beach which is the home of Winter the dolphin, made famous in a movie for her prosthetic tail. (The smaller, current aquarium would stay open, but for animal rescue efforts.) The $160 million project was the first real sign of life returning to the downtown area in a long time, and some said it was really the last, best shot the town had.

Two years later, the plan was dead, and local politicians weren’t shy about blaming Scientology, which clearly likes its “spiritual mecca” to be just the way it is — empty and forbidding.


Well, today, that’s going to change, at least for a couple of hours.

At the north end of Coachman Park, right across the street from the Sandcastle Hotel, where advanced Scientologists pay hundreds of dollars an hour for upper-level “OT” processing, Paulette Cooper is planning an invasion of her own.

Your proprietor and Paulette will be appearing at Clearwater’s Central Public Library at 2 pm to talk about our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely.

In it, we describe the extreme lengths Scientology went to in the 1970s not only to take over Clearwater and to destroy its mayor, Cazares, but also to ruin Paulette with multiple elaborate operations. She was wire-tapped, framed, smeared, and surveilled. In the book, we note that although some of the methods have changed, Scientology’s penchant for trying to smear and ruin people it considers enemies really hasn’t gone away.

Today, Scientology dismisses our book as old news. But it’s funny, just a couple of days ago, on Friday, we were in a federal courtroom in New York because a private investigator was being sentenced to prison for hacking people. One of his victims was Scientology’s former spokesman, Mike Rinder, and another was your proprietor. We have a pretty good notion who might be behind a hacking attack of the two of us. Do you?

It’s as if Scientology was trying to make our case for us.

Anyway, we are really looking forward to seeing you today. Please bring a book to sign. We’ll have a few for sale, but they’ll go fast!


Bonus photos from our tipsters

Maiden Voyage 2015 at the Fort Harrison Hotel! Let’s all pretend we’re on a boat on its first cruise! Wheeeee!


Ooh. L. Ron Hubbard’s business management ideas are sexy, just like this car.


Joy Villa in the Czech Republic, spreading her ideas about a drug-free world and garments made from traffic cones, or something!


Swabbing the decks of the Freewinds — I’m going OT! I can feel it!


We are Homo Novi. We are Clearing the Planet. We are raising money for the Costa Rica Ideal Org. By dressing like gangsters. Excelsior!


Actual caption: “A lot of people messaged me to ask why I didn’t go inside The Church of Scientology #inabikini. I did. It looks exactly like a Barnes & Noble. Also no matter where u stand, L Ron Hubbard is staring at u. FUN FACT: NO ONE working there acknowledged that I was in a bikini. But we were asked swiftly not to take photos.”



We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, so we’ve posted them at a dedicated page. Reader Sookie put together a complete index and we’re hosting it here on the website. Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and shipping instantly.

Our upcoming appearances (and check out the interactive map to our ongoing tour)…

June 28: Clearwater, Florida (with Paulette Cooper) Clearwater Public Library, 2 pm, sponsored by Center for Inquiry-Tampa Bay and the Humanist Society of the Suncoast.

July 12: Washington DC, Center for Inquiry (with Paulette Cooper)

July 14: Hartford, MARK TWAIN HOUSE (with Tom Tomorrow)

July 17: Denver, The Secular Hub, 7 pm (with Chris Shelton)

July 20: Dallas, Times Ten Cellar, 7 pm (with Robert Wilonsky)

July 22: Houston, Fox and Hound, 11470 Westheimer Road, sponsored by Humanists of Houston

July 24: San Antonio, Folc Restaurant, 6 pm

July 25: Austin

July 29: Paris (with Jonny Jacobsen)

August 4: London, Conway Hall, (with John Sweeney)

August 24: Boston, Boston Skeptics in the Pub, 7 pm

Sept 15: Arizona State University

Sept 23: Cleveland

Sept 24: Minneapolis

Sept 27: Portland

Sept 28: Seattle

Sept 30: Vancouver, BC


Posted by Tony Ortega on June 28, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA 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

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
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


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