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Talk about ‘enabling’ Scientology, watch this craven plan to kick Mark Bunker off board

[Attorney Elise Winters]

In 1997, when the death of Lisa McPherson had plunged the city of Clearwater into a frenzy of bad press and even the New York Times had come down to the Florida gulf town to cover the controversy, writer Douglas Franz found at least one local figure arguing that the town needed to find a way to appreciate the Church of Scientology, which had surreptitiously moved into town in 1975.

Others argue for more pragmatism, contending that accepting the Scientologists is the only way to revive downtown.

“The are not going to go away,” said Elise K. Winters, a lawyer and former chairwoman of the Downtown Development Board. “You can either treat them like the boogeyman and give downtown to them or you can treat them like any other property owner. You’ve got to decide if you want downtown to succeed or you want to nurse old grudges.”

More than 23 years later, Ms. Winters showed last night just how much she was willing to help Scientology with one of its biggest problems in today’s downtown Clearwater.


Seriously, this was mindblowing stuff, a naked power grab, and Tracey McManus’s excellent story last night at the Tampa Bay Times only hinted at how craven it was.

Here was the situation: Last year, after Mark Bunker stunned the town by getting elected to the city council on a platform of standing up to Scientology, he also got himself appointed, along with Mayor Frank Hibbard, as an ex-officio (non-voting) member of another body, the Downtown Development Board, which is made up mostly of Scientologists.

Under its chairman, Scientologist Paris Morfopoulos, the DDB has tried to muzzle Bunker, voting, for example, to prevent him from actually mentioning the word “Scientology” during meetings, which was Orwellian enough.

But now, with the help of Elise Winters, Morfopoulos and the board are trying to remove Bunker’s ex-officio position, pretending that having two non-voting members is a waste of Mark Bunker’s time.

Winters gave a presentation to the DDB last night, explaining that although it had been the practice to have two ex-officio members since 1987, Bunker had made only two “representative” statements since being appointed and so it was a waste of his time to have him involved. She presented a motion that the board should ask the city council to remove one ex-officio seat.

This was such an astounding performance, with Winters trying to explain why something that no one had ever had a problem with for more than 30 years should suddenly be such a crisis that it needed an immediate vote from the board (which, with its Scientology majority, easily passed 5-1), that it left Bunker stunned and angry.

Here, you have to watch Winters pretend that what she’s doing is not simply a ham-fisted way to remove Bunker from his position to keep his views from polluting the pro-Scientology board. Her performance starts at about the 24-minute mark…


“The development board passed the resolution 5-1 with little discussion after Winters’ presentation, with board member Festus Porbeni voting no and Shahab Emrani absent. Only Porbeni, who is not a member of Scientology, questioned what was the harm in having two non-voting members,” wrote McManus.

We caught up with Bunker about an hour after the meeting last night, and he was still pretty steamed about what he’d witnessed.

“It was a surprise move, and Elise Winters, the attorney for the DDB, I don’t believe is being entirely truthful when she presents it as something she’s only bringing forth after years and years because she doesn’t want to waste the time of a second ex-officio member. This is an attempt to just get me off the board because the majority of the members are either Scientologists or one person works for Scientology’s go-to attorney, Johnson Pope. There’s only one person who didn’t vote for this nonsense and that was the one non-Scientologist on the board,” he told us.

“This lawyer Elise started showing up to meetings again after years, when I was appointed. And she’s not been happy about my appointment. She expressed that to me when we first talked about it. What galls me is her coming up with such a pretense. If they want to kick me off, kick me off. They can say I’m disruptive, even though I’m not disruptive.”


The argument that Winters made is just a ruse, Bunker says.

“So from 1987 until now two ex-officio members has been fine, but now we’re wasting the second person’s time? This will be brought up at the city council meeting, and the city council will vote whether to accept this. We’ll find out. It is a power grab from Scientology, which is not happy that I was appointed to the board.”

He pointed out that Aaron Smith-Levin plans to run in the next election, and Scientology is worried that it only takes three votes to get things done that the church won’t like.

“If we can get a third person to hear what you posted at your website yesterday, leaked audio of the FBI saying yes, crimes are being committed by Scientology, that will be a victory for the city of Clearwater. It could finally stand up to this organization. Instead they’re playing games,” he says.

“When Scientologists come up to me and say something critical, it doesn’t bother me. But what does bother me is what you’ve been writing about in your ‘Top 25 People Enabling Scientology,’ the people like this attorney who speak disingenously to help out this organization. That is the kind of thing that is very frustrating.”


Source Code

“Is there any way to lick this thing called life? Well, that’s quite a thing to undertake, really. All in a few minutes, sit down with some preclear and go bang, bang, bang, and he feels better. Remember, this individual, at least so far as we can trace on an E-Meter has been about 76 trillion years on a track. He’s had experience after experience after experience after experience. He’s been through things they wouldn’t dare film or describe anywhere. And yet, we have the total conceit of — in using a few words — of attempting to resolve his wobbliness, his inabilities, his incapacities which have resulted from these experiences.” — L. Ron Hubbard, April 8, 1954


Avast, Ye Mateys

“DEMOTION: Pending Comm Ev for muddying up port relations Mike Smith, Peter Warren, and Amos Jessup are removed from post and restricted to the ship. Ship’s Rep actions will be undertaken by the Purser and the 3rd Mate….I finally got data enough to get things handled and, with reservations, all is okay. If a problem or situation can’t be handled get it to somebody who can handle it. Don’t sit on it until the roof falls in. People only get bit for (a) not taking responsibility for their areas and for (b) failing to do their jobs or for (c) getting us in a mess through irresponsibility or stupidity.” — The Commodore, April 8, 1969



Overheard in the FreeZone

“I found it confusing that Hubbard might have harmed some people. I think now I get it. Hubbard and possibly the real Illuminati see it as their duty to degrade the degenerate. If you let the moron go free, he might end up voting in a commie government or simply wreck life on Earth because he’s such an idiot. So Hubbard might have devised a way to trap and degrade degraded people so that they don’t stuff up Earth. Good and talented people rise above Hubbard’s tricks and break free to become a part of the elite of society and help the world. His trap is able to be gotten out of by logical people. Illogical people who are dangerous to the world (the degenerate lefty which you can see at silly protests in the streets) needs to be trapped and is trapped as they lack logic and only a logical classy mind can break free of Hubbards’ maze. So Scientology is a maze designed to trap the degenerate and to enhance the elite of society who are the only ones able to work out where the exit of the maze is.”


Past is Prologue

1998: Michail Brzitwa reported that German TV aired a segment on Gabe Cazares, who led a German delegation through Clearwater, Florida. “There was a five minute report on how former Clearwater Mayor Gabe Cazares perceives the ongoing occupation of downtown Clearwater by the ‘Church of Scientology.’ Mr. Cazares lead the reporters through parts of Clearwater where Scientologists purchased very many premises through the last 20 years. The TV team and Mr. Cazares were followed closely all the time by Scientology official Brian Anderson who, when asked, said he wanted to know everything that’s being said. Mr. Cazares mentioned the Scientology secret service, the ‘Office of Special Affairs’, OSA.”


Random Howdy

“From what I’ve read registrars routinely tell prospective clients that Scientology can cure numerous physical aliments that the person is suffering from. That is medical fraud, is it not?”


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


Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Masterson arraigned Jan 20. Discovery hearing on April 20, prelim set for May 18.
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] With Scientology largely shut down by the pandemic, the few remaining members reminisce
[TWO years ago] Scientology admits in planning docs it expects only 6 walk-ins daily at new facility
[THREE years ago] Scientology buys another derelict building in order to pretend that it’s expanding wildly
[FOUR years ago] You tell us: What’s the current condition of the Church of Scientology?
[FIVE years ago] Brian Sheen continues to fight Scientology’s ‘disconnection’ in unique and unusual ways
[SIX years ago] ‘Let him die’: Scientology leader David Miscavige had private eyes watching his father, say police
[SEVEN years ago] Mike Bennitt shares with us a creepy e-mail he received after filming Scientology events
[EIGHT years ago] An Interview with Brandon Ogborn About His Play, The TomKat Project
[NINE years ago] Marty Rathbun is Big in the U.K., Still Waiting for Major U.S. Treatment


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 2,265 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,769 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,289 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,309 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,200 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,507 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,375 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,149 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,479 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,953 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,269 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,835 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,754 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,922 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,503 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,764 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,802 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,515 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,040 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 395 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,570 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,121 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,270 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,590 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,445 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,564 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,920 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,223 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,329 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,731 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,603 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,186 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,681 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,935 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,044 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on April 8, 2021 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, 1995-2020 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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