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Scientology tries stealthy opening of new drug rehab in Canada and gets stuffed

[Narconon ED George Morfopoulous and his aborted clinic]

A few years ago, we noted that Scientology leader David Miscavige was making a pretty major shift in his Narconon strategy. For years, Scientology’s drug rehabs had grown larger as Miscavige, with the help of his celebrities, touted Narconon as “the authority” on drug abuse, and the centerpiece of that movement was its flagship clinic in Oklahoma, Narconon Arrowhead.

Built to house up to 250 patients (“students” in Narconon parlance), the idea was to try to legitimize Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s quack medical ideas and eventually partner with governments to get that really sweet federal and state cash flowing in. But fate intervened, three patients died at Arrowhead in a nine-month period, another Narconon in Georgia was shut down after a patient death and allegations of credit card fraud, and other Narconon centers were hit with dozens of lawsuits about their deceptive business model and unsafe environments.

But Miscavige is no dummy. Faced with a Narconon meltdown, he shifted strategies. He gave up on the idea of big clinics and instead has pursued a new, more stealthy plan, opening more Narconon clinics in countries where there’s less oversight, and in this country he’s dialed back new Narconons to be very small, boutique clinics with only a handful of beds each. Arrowhead, meanwhile, was downgraded to “halfway house” status, and other new clinics have similarly looked for ways to downplay their status as places where addicts might be facing serious medical emergencies, and pretend to be more like group homes in the hopes of slipping through zoning regulations.

(Meanwhile, one thing that has always helped Scientology is the tendency of media organizations to fall for Narconon’s obfuscations about being only tangentially related to the Church of Scientology. Anyone who worked in the organization or attended Miscavige’s speeches can tell you: Inside Scientology, there’s no question that Miscavige runs Narconon as a subsidiary of the church, and Narconon does nothing without oversight and approval of the church.)

In Ireland, Australia, Maryland, and in Canada, Scientology has tried to slip these new Narconon facilities past local officials who only seem to be paying half-attention, until knowledgeable locals realize what’s going on, kick up a fuss, and then a real fight ensues. In Maryland, it’s been going on for years, and while officials there held the line against a planned 20-bed Narconon, a smaller one looks like it’s going to slip through.

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And now, a very fast and stunning battle happened in Cambridge, Ontario, where locals raised a ruckus and got local officials to put a stop to a Narconon that had very quietly set up shop there.

We’ve been keeping an eye on the action going on at the Facebook group “Canada Against Scientology,” where members were stunned that a Narconon had got up and running so quickly in a neighborhood of Cambridge, which is about 60 miles from Toronto.

Cambridge Times reporter Bill Doucet noted that locals were unhappy that a Narconon had opened up shop, and they wondered how it had passed through local zoning rules. Doucet indicated that there was some question about that, and it looked like the city council wasn’t really aware of what was going on.

“I was trying to communicate with Cambridge council but had difficulty as I’m from Guelph,” says Frank Malott, who helps run the Canada Against Scientology page. “So Sue Kameka chimed in and knew what councillors to get ahold of and we left it in her hands. Thanks to Sue we were successful informing Cambridge council.”

Sue Kameka shot off a letter to her Cambridge councilmember, Nicholas Ermeta, and she got a quick reply…

Thanks Sue for the update! This is the first I have heard this and I don’t recall it coming to Council. If it met the zoning requirements it may have just gone through staff. I’m going to inquire about this further and do share your concerns!

Best Regards,

Nicholas

 
Yes, that’s reassuring. A dangerous drug treatment facility that’s been killing patients opens up in your city and you don’t even know it’s happening. But then, Sue got a more encouraging response…

 

Hi Sue!

After doing some digging I was provided the following information:

• Last week it was brought to the attention of city staff that a new treatment facility had started in a residential neighbourhood in the north of Cambridge.

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• We understand the concern expressed by residents, and City Staff immediately started investigating.

• Staff reviewed the current zoning and permits for the property, and earlier this week visited the site to conduct an inspection.

• Staff have determined the use could meet the definition of a special care facility which is permitted in any zone, however special care facilities have specific regulations and requirements they need to conform with.

• These include:

o Limits on the number of people occupying the property

o Parking restrictions

o Provincial and Federal licenses

o Registration with the registrar of group homes

• Specifically, City By-law 32-15 provides administration of group homes and requires that a group home must be provincially licensed or funded under a federal or provincial status to meet the requirements.

• Staff will be advising the property owner that they need to comply with these requirements and the city will require confirmation of the number of residents, that the parking standards can be met, and a federal or provincial license is provided for them to be included on the registry of group homes.

• The use of the site as the special care facility is not permitted until we have received the required information.

I’ll see what else I can do.

Best Regards,

Nicholas

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Now that’s an encouraging difference in tone. And even though Narconon was trying to get through without a zoning change as a “special care facility,” the councilman points out that it would still need provincial permits, and by-law 32-15 gave the city the power to shut it down if it weren’t meeting those requirements, zoning or no zoning.

“Cambridge is a small city of 135,000 people. I can’t even imagine why they came here other than to be near their Ideal Org,” Sue tells us. “Mind you, Cambridge has excellent proximity to the 401 which is our major highway through Ontario. Not to mention, Elisabeth Moss is in town every once in awhile filming The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Now that is special.

And yesterday, Bill Doucet reported that the city is using that by-law power to keep the Narconon from doing business.

“Since the facility doesn’t have a provincial license,” Doucet wrote, “the site in its current state can’t be used as a special care facility, and is therefore not open for operation.”

The facility’s executive director, George Morfopoulos, claimed that he’d talked to the provincial health authority, who told him he didn’t need a permit from them, and he also said that he has a letter from the city giving him permission to operate.

Translation: If Scientology wants to, they can drag the city through years of litigation, and in most cases they end up getting their way. But something about the rapidity in which the locals acted, and the way the Cambridge City Council rose up after realizing what was going on, makes us think they might stop this Narconon flat.

And an important detail in their favor is that this facility was only renting space from an owner who finds himself caught in the middle of the fight. In places like Maryland, however, Scientology was fighting tooth and nail because it had already forked out millions for the real estate it wanted to open a clinic on. So we think in this case, since Scientology has less invested, it might take the hint and get out of town.

“Morfopoulos said he’s referring the request to Narconon’s lawyer,” Malott says. “They might try another location. They tried in Mono Mills, Ontario but got shut down, and Narconon sold the land. They also tried in Milton, Ontario and got shut down, and now Cambridge. So we will see. I hope the City of Cambridge keeps us informed.”

For now, however, this is a stunning and quick victory, and our hats are off to Bill Doucet for his skillful coverage, the locals of Cambridge for their rapid action, and the members of Canada Against Scientology for getting the word out.

 
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HowdyCon 2019 in Los Angeles

THURSDAY NIGHT OPPORTUNITY: This year’s HowdyCon is in Los Angeles. People tend to come in starting on Thursday, and that evening we will have a casual get-together at a watering hole. But we also want to point out that Cathy Schenkelberg’s “Squeeze My Cans” will be running at the Hollywood Fringe, and we encourage HowdyCon attendees to see her show on Thursday night, June 20. Tickets and more dates available here.

Friday night June 21 we will be having an event in a theater (like we did on Saturday night last year in Chicago). There will not be a charge to attend this event, but if you want to attend, you need to RSVP with your proprietor at tonyo94 AT gmail.

On Saturday, we are joining forces with Janis Gillham Grady, who is having a reunion in honor of the late Bill Franks. Originally, we thought this event might take place in Riverside, but instead it’s in the Los Angeles area. If you wish to attend the reunion, you will need to RSVP with Janis (janisgrady AT gmail), and there will be a small contribution she’s asking for in order to help cover her costs.

HOTEL: Janis tells us she’s worked out a deal with Hampton Inn and Suites, at 7501 North Glenoaks Blvd, Burbank, (818) 768-1106. We have a $159 nightly rate for June 19 to 22. Note: You need to ask for the “family reunion” special rate.

 

 
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Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[Jenna Elfman, Giovanni Ribisi, and Greta Van Susteren]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] Scientology asks court to freeze Laura D’s forced-abortion case for a long-shot appeal
[TWO years ago] When a Scientology ‘body-router’ turns out to be the father you haven’t seen in 7 years
[THREE years ago] Scientology’s newest attack on Ron Miscavige: Could his son David be any whinier?
[FOUR years ago] Jon Atack: Stop making excuses for L. Ron Hubbard and the Snow White Program!
[FIVE years ago] Richard Teague speaks out after his horrific ordeal at a Scientology rehab center
[SIX years ago] A Womb With a View: More Dianetics Just-So Stories

 
——————–

Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,455 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,584 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,088 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,608 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 628 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 519 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,826 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,694 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,468 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,242 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,588 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,154 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,074 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,241 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,822 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,083 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,122 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,834 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,360 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,449 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,589 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,909 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,765 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,884 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,240 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,542 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,648 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,050 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,922 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,505 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,000 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,254 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,363 days.

——————–

Posted by Tony Ortega on May 23, 2019 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, 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 can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2018 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2018), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | 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 | 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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele

 

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