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We asked Mark Bunker about Scientology developer’s high rise plans for Clearwater

[Clearwater, 2525]

Tampa Bay Times reporter Tracey McManus had another major scoop this weekend when she revealed that Scientologist developer Moises Agami has filed plans to build two towering condo buildings in downtown Clearwater, Florida that will be the new tallest structures in the city.

When we first read the news, we thought it turned things upside down in that Gulf Coast town: Wait, a Scientologist developer is going to build things now in downtown rather than hold back progress?

We’re used to the long-running battle in Clearwater, where Scientology surreptitiously invaded in 1975 and has had a stranglehold on its downtown that only got more pronounced after Scientologists went on a buying spree in 2017. (We know that thanks to another major investigative triumph from McManus.)

But traditionally, this has been a story about Scientology preventing downtown development by buying up buildings and keeping them empty, while Clearwater officials have struggled to attract more visitors with recent successes like the new Coachman Park and its amphitheater.

So what does it mean that now Agami, who was the developer behind Tom Cruise’s Clearwater condo, is planning to change the skyline of Clearwater with his two 35-story towers just feet from the intracoastal?


“We’re screwed,” Vice Mayor Mark Bunker told us when we rang him up to ask him what the heck is going on in his beleaguered city.

He told us that he was stunned to read McManus’s story, which revealed that Agami is taking advantage of the city’s attempt to encourage more development by removing some zoning regulations in an effort to lessen “red tape.”

“Everyone was complaining about red tape, so we cut red tape, and now we can’t stop what he’s doing,” Bunker says.

Agami got on our radar when we noticed that his family, which is based in Mexico City, was donating huge amounts to Scientology. And in 2016, we first broke the news that Agami’s plans for renovating a former bank building on Cleveland Street would involve a penthouse double-level condo that Scientology officials told the city would be for Tom Cruise.

Bunker tells us that Agami owns other properties in town and at least one of them has a thriving restaurant, but he would like to see the developer bringing in more businesses to the buildings he already owns rather then put up a couple of new high rise towers.

On the plus side, Bunker says at the least Agami’s new project may make other developers more comfortable with coming downtown. “It’s been hard to convince a developer to be the first one to come down and build projects in the city,” he says.

But he acknowledges that the biggest complaints will come from residents nearby the new project who are already raising questions about safety and about the way the towers will change the character of the area.

We can certainly understand those concerns. But those kinds of complaints would come up no matter where a developer proposed such an alteration to a city’s skyline.

We told Bunker we had a more specific question in mind: How does Agami’s plans to build up downtown with his condo towers fit with David Miscavige’s ongoing efforts to thwart the city’s revival?

“I don’t know if this is a devious plan from Miscavige, I doubt it,” Bunker says. “Agami also built a large tower on Fort Harrison Drive on the way to Dunedin in a quiet neighborhood. People there were very upset because of the change to the character of the neighborhood. But he’s done these things for commercial reasons.”

Bunker predicts that Agami will charge high prices for his condo units, and he assumes that some or many of them will go to wealthy Scientologists.

For years we’ve been saying that David Miscavige has been circling Scientology’s wagons in Clearwater as the church membership has dwindled and places like Los Angeles and East Grinstead, England have lost their influence. Could Agami’s hi-rise haven for rich Scientologists fit that plan?

“I think you’re right about Miscavige circling the wagons. I think we’re seeing wealthy and less wealthy Scientologists closing ranks here,” he says. “I’m not going to blame this [Agami’s project] on Miscavige, though. I’m sure it will benefit him, it won’t be a negative for him. It will be a negative for the people near it, and it will change the character of the downtown.”

Bunker also points out that Miscavige has been talking about restoring storefronts on Cleveland Street in order to bring back a “neighborhood” charm to downtown. But that’s apparently out the window now.


“If you want a neighborhood feel, that doesn’t really go with gigantic towers.”


Technology Cocktail

“Doctors treat injuries because they cannot confront bodies. We confront people. We can always see what is wrong with a person. It takes real genius to find something right and improve it.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1960



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 as Danny faces a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. NOW WITH TRIAL INDEX.


THE PODCAST: How many have you heard?

[1] Marc Headley [2] Claire Headley [3] Jeffrey Augustine [4] Bruce Hines [5] Sunny Pereira [6] Pete Griffiths [7] Geoff Levin [8] Patty Moher [9] Marc Headley [10] Jefferson Hawkins [11] Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan [12] Paulette Cooper [13] Jesse Prince [14] Mark Bunker [15] Jon Atack [16] Mirriam Francis [17] Bruce Hines on MSH


— SPECIAL: The best TV show on Scientology you never got to see

[1] Phil Jones [2] Derek Bloch [3] Carol Nyburg [4] Katrina Reyes [5] Jamie DeWolf

— The first Danny Masterson trial and beyond

[18] Trial special with Chris Shelton [19] Trial week one [20] Marc Headley on the spy in the hallway [21] Trial week two [22] Trial week three [23] Trial week four [24] Leah Remini on LAPD Corruption [25] Mike Rinder 2022 Thanksgiving Special [26] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part One [27] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part Two [28] Claire Headley on the trial [29] Tory Christman [30] Bruce Hines on spying [31] Karen de la Carriere [32] Ron Miscavige on Shelly Miscavige [33] Karen de la Carriere on the L’s [34] Mark Bunker on Miscavige hiding [35] Mark Plummer [36] Mark Ebner [37] Karen Pressley [38] Steve Cannane [39] Fredrick Brennan [40] Clarissa Adams [41] Louise Shekter [42] John Sweeney [43] Tory Christman [44] Kate Bornstein [45] Christian Stolte [46] Mark Bunker [47] Jon Atack [48] Luke Y. Thompson [49] Mark Ebner


Source Code

“You all dead today — I mean, all alive today? Twenty-third, huh? 23 August, AD 11. Well, I’m glad you made it. I didn’t think you’d ever get to August the 23rd. Back there in the Roman Empire I was damn sure you wouldn’t get here! And I remember one space-opera society when I didn’t think it was very probable that you’d make it. I remember standing there at the edge of the spaceport as the battle planes took off, and I said, ‘Well, they won’t make it.’ I knew, you see, I knew the high command hadn’t given you any ammunition.” — L. Ron Hubbard, August 23, 1961


Avast, Ye Mateys

“Tech is the theta thrust into the society. All new civilizations progressed on new technology. In the main we face what is called a ‘cultural lag.’ The mental health field is stuck about 1450 AD. Dungeons, torture, illegal seizure, the ‘best’ people. We are rolling at about 2050 AD. This time gap makes it nearly impossible for the society’s witch doctors (untrained in logic or mathematics) to grasp what is going on. They lack even a purpose to make anyone well. Not even up to that. So we are impeded by a ‘cultural lag.’ By tying a bridge to medicine and healing we can overcome this to some degree. Therefore the Standard Dianetics Programme was an enormous advance for us, not just in tech but in social advance. So we are doing very well really.” — The Commodore, August 23, 1969


Overheard in the FreeZone


“You can still be subject to the engrams of beings you have not released yet. This can be very frightening to those who have been assured they are engram-free by reason of their being a Clear or an OT. You experience a wonderful state of release and then, months or years later, you are sitting in a restaurant and the space-age uniforms of the waitresses set you into violent restimulation. Or, you buy a new brand of lox from a neighborhood market and you go into spasms at the first bite because it turns on someone’s incident of being forced to eat raw human flesh. These unfortunate experiences are a result of being on a prison planet that is chock full of tortured beings. You have many beings who have been with you for years and have acted like trusted companions and when one of them goes berserk because of some unexpected stimulus, you can spot the earlier incident in minutes and calm things down. After all, it is their incident, not yours, and knowing this you can take the steps needed to free the being from the incident they are still trapped in. Generally, spotting the incident and what occurred will free the being immediately, but you must be able to stay in present time in order to do this. If you think it is your incident, you may go out of present time and experience the incident yourself. There is no amount of processing that will keep you free from experiencing other being’s engrams if they are close to you. If you are recruiting beings to help you and working in harmony with them, you are knowingly operating in present time and are able to help each other when someone gets restimulated.”


Past is Prologue

1997: Rumor this week that OSA investigator and operative Joe Neal is operating under a pseudonym. From an anonymous source: “I have it on good, good information that ‘Joe Neal’ is NOT his real name. I don’t know what his real name IS, though. Whatever his name is, one thing is certain, he answers to Rinder, and HIS job is to oversee the investigation of critics. But if anyone wonders what the job of ‘Joe Neal’ is, well he’s the man behind Russell Shaw’s homepage, behind the DAing of Jeff Jacobson, and oh so much more.”


Random Howdy

“Scientology is like doing acid minus the fun.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Found guilty on two counts on May 31, remanded to custody. Sentencing on Sep 7.

‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Trial scheduled for August 15.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Leah Remini v. Scientology, alleging ‘Fair Game’ harassment and defamation: Complaint filed August 2, hearing on proof of service on Oct 3.
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Forced to arbitration. Plaintiffs allowed interlocutory appeal to Eleventh Circuit.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Stay in place at least through sentencing of Masterson on Sep 7.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Next hearing Nov 6.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Ordered to mediation.



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] Pete’s journey: The long, scary bus ride from active Scientologist to active protester
[TWO years ago] What is it going to take for the LA Times to take the threat of Rizza Islam seriously?
[THREE years ago] Half-million dollar man: Scientology donor gives pep talk in leaked video
[FOUR years ago] Scientology’s obsession with kids and sex? Nick Lister has the receipts.
[FIVE years ago] Why Colombia’s military was fertile territory for Scientology — and one general’s stunning role
[SIX years ago] Scientology shows no sign of slowing down its use of religious visas for foreign labor
[SEVEN years ago] Maybe the worst thing about Scientology: It turns you into L. Ron Hubbard
[EIGHT years ago] Chill EB joins the Sea Org — well, long enough to wish a happy birthday!
[NINE years ago] Jon Atack: How Scientology’s methods of manipulation stay with you after you leave
[TEN years ago] PR Director of Scientology’s Las Vegas Celebrity Center Arrested in Plot to Assassinate a Cop
[ELEVEN years ago] (2012’s) Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, Nos. 17-20
[TWELVE years ago] Janet Reitman’s Inside Scientology: ‘The Print Reviews Have Been Really Positive’


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 3,130 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,645 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,195 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,185 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,066 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,370 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,241 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,346 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,793 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,135 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,701 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,620 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,787 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,369 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,630 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,666 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,382 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,946 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,261 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,436 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,987 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,118 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,456 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,311 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,430 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,786 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,089 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,195 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,593 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,469 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,034 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,547 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,801 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,910 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on August 23, 2023 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, 1995-2022 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2022), 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


Tony Ortega at Rolling Stone


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