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Clearwater City Council denounces ‘Cult City Tours,’ expresses shock at operator behavior

Mark Bunker was clearly on the hot seat tonight at the Clearwater City Council meeting, and Scientology had to be loving it.

Bunker was elected for one reason: He campaigned on trying to get the somnolent Florida beach town to find a spine and stand up to Scientology, which has used subterfuge, intimidation, and double dealing to maintain a vise-like grip on the city’s downtown district.

But if Bunker thought he was going to have an easy time of it, he quickly found that a cowed, entrenched city leadership had little interest in doing something about Scientology’s overbearing presence.

Bunker may regret that his reaction to that intransigence was to suggest, mostly as a joke, that the city go with its subjection to Scientology and turn it into an attraction. Maybe with a tour and a museum.


At tonight’s council meeting, Bunker said he was surprised that a man named Ted Reinhard ran with the idea and started up a company he called “Cult City Tours.”

But a recent story in the Tampa Bay Times showed that Reinhard, a public school teacher, was maybe not the best person suited to the task. When he ran into some opposition by local businesses to his attempt to book an after-tour party, he retaliated with negative online reviews claiming that the businesses didn’t serve non-Scientologists, which wasn’t true.

Tracey McManus at the Tampa Bay Times revealed that those reviews were causing havoc downtown, and when we asked him about it, Ted initially tried to justify it. After our story was posted, he decided to take them down.

And that was Bunker’s message tonight at the meeting, that Ted Reinhard could learn from his mistakes, but Scientology never can. And Scientology’s intransigence, and its bullying and intimidation of Clearwater, was far more important than a tour operator who had made some bad decisions that he then tried to reverse.

But the other council members made it clear that the negative reviews had shocked them, and that they were extremely unhappy with the name Ted had chosen for his business: Cult City Tours.

Bunker agreed, and suggested that there was some way to give tourists a history of Scientology’s domination downtown without being negative.

We have a difficult time seeing how that would work out.

Scientology’s business model is based on indoctrinating vulnerable people, extorting them, spying on them, destroying families when any members show resistance, and even forcing abortions on young women who dedicate their lives to the church.

Giving a tour of this group’s most insular headquarters, where wealthy members are fleeced as a spiritual exercise, and keep the tour upbeat, and filled with happy, uncritical news?

We don’t see it.

But the council members left no doubt how unhappy they are with Reinhard and his tours. And even if they tried to explain that they didn’t blame Bunker, it was clear that he was taking some serious heat tonight.

“This is pretty upsetting to someone like me,” said Mayor Frank Hibbard. “I think the name is horrible. It is going to come up on Google searches.”

And he said it gives a false impression of the city. “Scientology is mainly based in the very downtown core. If you go from Tampa airport to the beach you wouldn’t even know Scientology existed in Clearwater,” he said. “It’s damaging. It’s damaging people I care about. It can hurt the beach, too. That’s why I’m opposed to it. And then when I heard about the reviews, that’s when I’m done.”

Similar complaints were made by the other council members, but they also acknowledged that they can’t tell Reinhard what to call his business or what to say on his tour.


But Bunker pleaded with Reinhard to change the name, suggesting “The Scientology Aftermath Tour,” if Reinhard can use it legally.


After the meeting tonight, we asked Ted what he thought about Bunker’s suggestion about changing the name.

“I really wish that everyone that’s complaining now had talked to us before it became a brand. None of them talked to us when we could have easily changed it. Not one. Now, oh, I need to change the name. How about a fan contest? Let everyone out there send an idea!” he said.


Source Code

“DAILY REPORT: Well, we got out of there all right. This rocking and rolling is done to condition people for the latest dance — The Wriggle and Dive. TWO WAY COMM: It was stated in yesterday’s OOD that Two Way Comm was out in Div 2 and Qual. But it even got typed wrong. ‘Ack’ was used instead of ASK. The sense of it was nobody in Div 2 or Qual ASK (not ack) anybody what it’s all about. So Two Way Comm was out all around. But all joking aside this, the most basic process we ever had, dropped out and must be gotten into action.” — L. Ron Hubbard, March 18, 1970


Avast, Ye Mateys

“Flag auditors are easily the best in the world. They don’t kid around with cases. They know what they can do. The people audited on Flag go out of here to confront the ohs and ahs of their former areas on how changed and great they are. Any org could eventually achieve this stellar level of result. That isn’t just what FLAG does. It’s what any org could do if they really taught their courses and crammed their HGC auditors. Flag is a shining example of what CAN be done with Tech. Not new tech. Just tech. We saved a life last week with 1956 tech and an excellent auditor. That’s the way it must be, will be over the world if we here on Flag do our jobs.” — The Commodore, March 18, 1971



Overheard in the FreeZone

“Most of the people that actually natter on about Scientology and Scientologists are talking about ‘things they’ve heard’ or ‘things they’ve read from sources’ or ‘my best friend said LRH was xyz,’ and when I ask for policies LRH actually wrote, they can’t provide it. So far, there are about three policies (and I’ve already read thousands of policies) that may be controversial or questionable, and two of the three were canceled. These two of three are the only things they ever go on about that was ‘so bad’ and the rest were third party crap.”


Past is Prologue

1998: Attorney Graham Berry’s neighbors were leafleted with a Dead Agent pack following the Los Angeles picket. “The rehash of earlier DA Pak material was expressly justified because I had ‘spent much of [my] weekend harassing a peaceful church by picketing it together with a handful of other bigots. Men who denigrate and seek to harm others’ religion often have highly questionable morals. Graham Berry should know by now that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.’ Strategically it was a bomb because now three blocks of neighbours, and all their extended contacts, and their extended contacts, get to see scientology’s standard tech up real close!”


Random Howdy

“I found a notebook on the street back in the 90’s and it was the diary of someone who was obviously mentally ill, probably schizophrenic, and in parts it read just like a lot LRH’s ‘writings,’ like the stuff in today’s article. Looking back, I’m guessing most prophets were either schizo or con men or both, like LRH. That would explain a lot history-wise.”



Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Masterson arraigned Jan 20. Next conf to set prelim, March 24.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay’s sentencing delayed to April 13.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for May 20 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Charged in Brooklyn federal court on Feb 4. Arraigned on Feb 9. Pretrial conference set for Apr 29.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Petition for writ of mandate denied Oct 22 by Cal 2nd Appellate District. Petition for review by state supreme court denied Dec 11.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Dec 30, Judge Kleifield granted Scientology’s motions to compel arbitration. June 7: Status conference.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Second amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 24.

Concluded litigation:
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29. Bond revoked Sep 14. Nobbe dead, Sep 14.
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe dismissed the lawsuit on May 15 after the Clearwater Police dropped their criminal investigation of her allegations.


SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks

The Australian Seven News network cancelled a 10-part investigation of Scientology and its history of dirty tricks. Read the transcripts of the episodes and judge for yourself why Tom Cruise and Tommy Davis might not have wanted viewers to see this hard-hitting series by journalist Bryan Seymour.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. 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 a weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] Scientology in the time of plague: Turning to Hubbard’s words on radiation for guidance
[TWO years ago] Michael Jackson and Scientology: When the Hollywood Celebrity Centre went on lockdown
[THREE years ago] Noted Scientology critic Arnie Lerma shoots and injures wife, then kills himself
[FOUR years ago] Scientology goes into full smear mode in reaction to Leah Remini getting 2nd season
[FIVE years ago] Monique Rathbun waives a response: Will the TX Supreme Court take up Scientology’s appeal?
[SIX years ago] Another ‘Secret Lives’ outtake: The neighbor who knew L. Ron Hubbard and his first wife
[SEVEN years ago] DOX: Monique Rathbun’s response to bid by Scientology to stop the Miscavige deposition
[EIGHT years ago] Former Executive’s Tell-All Adds to Scientology Rehab Program Meltdown
[NINE years ago] Scientology Sunday Funnies: RON the Encyclopedia — Get Yours Now!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,244 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,748 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,268 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,288 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,179 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,486 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,354 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,128 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,932 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,248 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,814 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,733 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,901 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,482 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,743 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,781 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,494 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,019 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 374 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,549 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,100 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,249 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,569 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,424 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,543 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,899 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,202 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,308 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,710 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,582 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,165 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,660 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,914 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,023 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 18, 2021 at 20:05

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, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), 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, 15 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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