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The country’s 6th largest school district is helping a Scientology front group reach kids

Has it really been almost 16 years since Hurricane Wilma zipped across Florida after doing incredible damage in Mexico? We happened to be in the path of Mrs. Flintstone, and we never want to be stuck in such a nightmarish storm again. We were without power for a week.

We bring this up because a new Scientology scam came across our desk last week, and this one is centered in Broward County, which we have a certain fondness for. Our stint at New Times Broward-Palm Beach in 2005-2007 was our first editor-in-chief job, and our last stop on the journey that took us to the Village Voice.

We still have fond memories of working with great journalists like Bob Norman, Ed Newton, and Gail Shepherd, who was taken from us far too soon last year, just as her fiction writing success was about to take off. We got to work with some fine young writers, and yes, we went through Hurricane Wilma in October 2005, inspiring us to come up with a cover that week (which the Miami paper also used) that gained some local notoriety.

So, we want to thank Scientology for kicking off this round of nostalgia for us. We did have a great time living in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, and we have visited a few times since then, usually because we are visiting Paulette Cooper, who lives in the area.


So let’s take a look at what Scientology is up to in our old neighborhood, and our thanks to the tipster who sent us this mailer.


For years and years, we’ve been telling the public that Scientology, a notorious human rights abuser, came up with a cute trick to try and throw off investigations of the way it abuses its own people. It does this by pretending that it actually cares about human rights, and then also uses that cynical front in order to attract kids to the organization.

Once again, here’s how it works. In 2001 a wealthy Scientologist, Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, created Scientology’s “human rights” campaign based around a document, the Declaration of Human Rights issued by the United Nations in 1948. For some reason Youth For Human Rights and its various flavors (United for Human Rights, Artists for Human Rights, etc.) never credit Eleanor Roosevelt, who was the primary mover behind the UN document. And it’s a fine document, declaring support for everything from the right to a fair trial to the right not to be murdered.

However, many of the tenets of the document are uncontroversial in the first world. The right to move to a different part of the country, for example, or the right to own a home. But Scientology doesn’t really care about the specifics and whether it makes sense to teach US schoolchildren that they can move to another city if they want to. What matters is that their video and pamphlet campaign gives them access to kids.

And who can blame them? Scientology is dying, in part because it has gotten so hard to recruit new people, and especially young people. And if there’s one thing we always point out about Scientology it’s that they never give up. No matter what we write about them or what you might see in a TV documentary, they are going to keep pushing their same slick front operations, like Applied Scholastics, Narconon, and Youth for Human Rights.

What’s unusual, however, is to see a large, sophisticated school district like Broward Schools become complicit with Scientology’s operation and to sponsor it.

We sent emails to Michael Walker, director of the “School Climate & Discipline” department that is named on the flier, as well as the media relations office of the district itself. We wanted to know whether they were aware that the district was partnering with an arm of the Church of Scientology, and one that Scientology leader David Miscavige has cited in church events as a key part of its expansion efforts.

On Thursday we received an acknowledgment from the district that it had received our questions, so we held on to this story for a few more days waiting for a response.

As always, we’ll let you know if they do get back to us.



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Did you know you can get an email every morning when we post our daily Scientology story? We know some of the folks who come to the Underground Bunker aren’t here to talk about the politics of the day, and that’s why we created a daily politics feature over at our other blog, The Lowdown, and we ask readers to take their political discussions over there. And if you drop us a line at tonyo94 AT gmail, we’ll put you on the list so you get a morning reminder that a new Scientology story has been posted — and only for our Scientology stories.


Source Code

“Now, ‘When did the PC’s physical body change characteristics?’ Getting this out of women, you will have to take the E-Meter and beat them over the head. A woman at 110 will never admit that her body changed anything from that of a beautiful 16-year-old girl, or something like that, you know? It’s just things they won’t talk about, so you have to pull that the hard way. Go ahead and grab it.” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 11, 1961


Avast, Ye Mateys

“On Flag we have a maxim that we get it in on Flag before we yell at the deficiencies of others elsewhere. The housewife can’t clean up her neighbors if she can’t scrub her own kitchen. So, Steward’s Dorm, let’s see you set an example on your own home and then export it to the ship. Ernie and Annabelle made a good start on their yesterday. Others there give a hand.” — The Commodore, October 11, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Apparently OSA’s most sucessful black operation was to indoctrinate American indies that Bill Robertson followers were squirrels.”



Past is Prologue

2001: The St. Petersburg Times reported that a community group is asking that a street be renamed in honor of former Clearwater mayor Gabe Cazares. “‘We’ve had this in mind for some time, and we feel it’s time,’ said Edward Quinones, the chairman of Uno Federation Community Services, a non-profit group based in Clearwater. ‘We think it’s fairly obvious in this area, with such a large Hispanic population, that this would be appropriate.’ Uno’s board suggested that former Clearwater Mayor and County Commissioner Gabe Cazares, a Mexican-American, would be a good person to name a road after. Uno’s board also proposed that a major road such as Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard be considered.”


Random Howdy

“Man-animals, come out of your caves. The Psychlos have deserted the planet. We have won!”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for November 10. Trial tentatively scheduled for February.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.

Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference December 17 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for November 19.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30, 2020 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ US Supreme Court denied Valerie’s petition Oct 4.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court granted review on May 26 and asked the Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Oral arguments scheduled for November 2.
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: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for June 28, 2022.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 23. Appeal hearing held Aug 23-27. Awaiting a ruling.



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.


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 BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. 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] Danny Masterson asks to halt civil lawsuit while criminal case is ongoing, as expected
[TWO years ago] Scientologist on Clearwater downtown board does a classic ‘dead agenting’ of Mark Bunker
[THREE years ago] Dave Richards, 1948-2018, ran the Founding Church of Scientology in DC
[FOUR years ago] Tara and Nathan — subjects of last night’s ‘Leah Remini’ — respond to Scientology’s smears
[FIVE years ago] Louis Theroux’s movie comes to Oregon, and Jefferson Hawkins is there to talk Scientology
[SIX years ago] L. Ron Hubbard’s regressive homophobia: Can Scientology’s celebrities handle the truth?
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology’s ‘International Justice Chief’ surfaces for the Garcia lawsuit
[NINE years ago] L. Ron Hubbard Explains Your Life “Before Earth”
[TEN years ago] Scientology and Disconnection: “No One’s Going to Take My Eternity Away”


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 2,450 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,955 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,475 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,495 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,386 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,693 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,561 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,335 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,665 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,139 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,455 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,021 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,940 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,108 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,689 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,950 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,987 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,701 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,226 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 581 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,756 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,307 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,456 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,776 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,631 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,750 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,106 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,409 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,515 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,913 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,789 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,372 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,867 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,121 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,230 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on October 11, 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


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


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