Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Clearwater deal: Scientology leader David Miscavige will finally get parcel he covets

Last night, Tracey McManus uncorked another stunning scoop at the Tampa Bay Times: New Clearwater City Manager Jon Jennings and Scientology leader David Miscavige have come to a meeting of minds, with a deal in the works to begin to revive the city’s Scientology-soaked downtown.

We talked to city council member Mark Bunker last night about the deal, which he says gives him major misgivings as long as Jennings keeps characterizing it as Clearwater “partnering” with the controversial church.

“I’m not ready to go ‘hip, hip, hooray’,” Bunker told us.

We’ve explained several times why David Miscavige covets a 1.4-acre parcel of empty land in downtown Clearwater, and why he essentially went to war with Clearwater when the owner refused to sell it to him and sold it to the city in 2017.


At the time, Miscavige was showing city leaders renderings of downtown buildings that he would give facelifts to in order to attract new businesses, but only if he could get his hands on the parcel. But the previous owner, the Clearwater Aquarium, didn’t want him to get his hands on it, and sold it to the city for $4.25 million, spurning Miscavige’s wild $15 million offer.

Now, nearly five years later, Miscavige is finally getting his way. It was revealed by McManus that three buildings owned by Scientologists will go through renovations in order to attract businesses to the Cleveland Street corridor, and in return Jennings said he would be seeking a land swap with the church so Miscavige could finally get his hands on the parcel he wants so badly.

In other words, it’s basically the same thing Miscavige was pushing for five years ago. And the first step will be the renovation of the three downtown buildings. The land swap will come later, and McManus pointed out that it’s not clear yet what city will receive in the trade.

“There has been no swap as of yet,” Bunker pointed out to us. “We haven’t really gotten any details beyond the fact that, through the generosity of David Miscavige, he’s convinced three parishioners to fix up those three buildings.”

Who those three parishioners happen to be isn’t known. As McManus points out, Florida law doesn’t require the building owners to reveal their identities.

Bunker says that the building upgrades can be done without the approval of the city council, but any land swap would require a vote. And so Bunker says he and others are going to make sure any contract for a swap includes plenty of conditions that the church will have to meet.

As for the three buildings being renovated, Bunker says it’s important to put it in its proper context.

“This is the bare minimum. What do you do with an empty building? You fix it up and put a business in it and make money. That doesn’t mean we should be Scientology’s ‘partner’,” he says.

As McManus pointed out in her piece, the three buildings being set up for businesses would not be tax exempt, and the owners would have to pay taxes on them. And these presumably wouldn’t be Scientology-related businesses that come in to lease them.

We’re reminded of the Lucky Anchor, a bar that was at one time owned by Clay Irwin. Although it was in a building on Cleveland Street owned by a Scientologist, there was nothing Scientology-related about Clay’s tavern. (Clay sold to another owner who just recently got the news that he’s being evicted by his Scientologist building owner, as McManus also pointed out.)

Making sure there’s that arm’s length between the church and the businesses on Cleveland Street will be important, Bunker points out.

“That’s why we can’t say Scientology is our partner. If people think, ‘this is Scientology’s downtown,’ they will continue to stay away.”



Tom Cruise’s first manager speaks out

Really good piece at the Daily Mail last night with an interview of Eileen Berlin, 84, who was Tom Cruise’s first manager when he was a starry-eyed 18-year-old in New York hoping to break into the movies.

Lots of good stuff about Tom’s early years in the business. And some fun lines at the end about Tom getting into Scientology, after he had left New York for LA and replaced Berlin. (Tom was lured into Scientology by Mimi Rogers in the second half of 1986 and they were married on Dianetics Day, May 9, 1987.)

‘I think Tommy was the perfect candidate for Scientology,’ she said. ‘He’d told me he didn’t know anyone in LA and needed support. He didn’t believe in therapy but he obviously needed help and Scientology was there for him.

Berlin said she wasn’t surprised that all three of his marriages – to Mimi Rogers, Nicole Kidman and Katie Holmes – ended in divorce.

‘I was just shocked that he had three marriages and that they lasted as long as they did.’

Fun stuff.


Your proprietor with Trevor Heasley


Sign up for a daily email when we post a new story on Scientology.


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

“I just had a phone call from California, by the way: A girl who was on the handbook — fifteen hours, really, on the handbook, running it through — went down to a secretarial course (never seen a typewriter before), sat down and read the chart, spent ten minutes reading the chart, sat down at the typewriter with blank keys and started writing at twenty-five words a minute. Here sits an atom bomb. That atom bomb is a complete threat to this whole society, culture, your body, your civilization.” — L. Ron Hubbard, February 18, 1952


Avast, Ye Mateys

“REGRET: I am sorry that Ethics has to be stepped up. But each day a few more omissions land on my desk. The FSO and FAO have not formed up and the FB and myself are having to carry the load.” — The Commodore, February 18, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Outside this universe there is no time. There is only this huge movie we see creating itself more and more into the future. Since all of this movie is present outside the physical universe, a being can enter into any time period he wants if he has the level of awareness that allows him to do so. I was sent to this period of time as a new creation. The purpose was and is to raise the vibrations of the planet. This will, by itself, align this period of time and alter the future to make everything better. There were a million of me created from one of the Gods. They might be operating bodies on or off the planet. Most are Orbs that are directly connected to source so they are all around the planet raising the vibrations of the planet. I would say there is less than 10 of me operating bodies on this planet. The rest would be Orbs just observing and raising the vibrations.”



Past is Prologue

1999: Adweek published an article this week on the controversy over anti-Scientology advertising on public buses. “The ads were purchased by Former Scientologists Speaking Out, which asserts its First Amendment rights were violated when the ads were removed. ‘When you look at the board’s definition of political advertising, it is limited to that for candidates running for office,’ said Ken Dandar, the ex-Scientologists’ attorney. ‘They now have a nonprofit organization that is willing to sue them if they don’t do the right thing.’ Scientology lawyer Paul Johnson said the PSTA should move to strike any noncommercial ads from public transportation, or else the county could see ‘hate organizations like the KKK’ running ads on its buses. ‘This is important stuff under the First Amendment, but the American Association of Advertising Agencies believes that advertisers should be able to advertise,’ said John Kamp, a Washington, D.C., attorney at the 4A’s. ‘I run a business. I don’t want to limit commerce, but this has created a real problem in Clearwater,’ said Bob Clark, a PSTA board member and Clearwater commissioner. ‘There’s no question in any person’s mind that these were attacks, and as a public official … when I saw them, I was very upset.'”


Random Howdy

“I was just ruminating that Manson probably got the idea for ‘creepy crawl’ from some Scientology experience.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next pretrial conference May 31. Trial scheduled for August 29.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Last hearing was on January 18, referred to grand jury.
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 March 25 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for April 8.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.
Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Hearing held on February 15, awaiting ruling.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Eleventh Circuit affirmed ruling granting Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Garcias considering next move.
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: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Scientology has said it will file an anti-SLAPP motion.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for June 28.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Appeal hearing held Aug 23-27. Awaiting a ruling.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Lawsuit filed by the FTC and state of Georgia in August, now in discovery phase.



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] Scientologist and accused Ponzi schemer learns government has 13 MILLION documents on him
[TWO years ago] In Scientology’s Sea Org, the terror originates inside your own head
[THREE years ago] Is Beck divorcing Scientology along with his wife? Here’s the evidence for and against.
[FOUR years ago] Scientology opened an ‘Ideal Org’ in Salt Lake City yesterday. We have its secret plans.
[FIVE years ago] Augustine: Why is it so hard to find a Scientologist in good standing?
[SIX years ago] David Miscavige wastes no time once the stay is lifted in Monique Rathbun’s lawsuit
[SEVEN years ago] TAMPA SHOWDOWN: Scientology’s religious exception faces mini-trial today
[EIGHT years ago] Going three feet back of your head: Scientology’s Original Operating Thetan Level Six!
[NINE years ago] Tom Cruise Under Oath: We Have His Deposition Questions!
[TEN years ago] Scientology Campout: Commenters of the Week!


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 2,579 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,084 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,604 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,624 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,515 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,822 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,690 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,464 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,795 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,268 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,584 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,150 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,069 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,237 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,818 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,079 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,115 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,830 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,355 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 710 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,885 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,436 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,585 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,905 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,760 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,879 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,235 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,538 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,644 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,042 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,918 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,501 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,996 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,250 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,359 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 18, 2022 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, 1995-2021 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2021), 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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email