In October of 2019 TB Times journalist Tracey McManus wrote an incredible article detailing Scientology’s sweeping land grab in the City of Clearwater.
Using shell corporations and subterfuge Scientology connected entities now own almost 200 properties.
One statement in particular stands out in this description of the creeping invasion of Scientology tendrils that now embrace over 100 acres of the City;
“When the city was considering buying the aquarium’s lot, Miscavige threatened to stop communicating until the 2020 election, when term limits would force most of the council out of office. Then he would try again, with new council members.”
This is exactly what David Miscavige has done.
Under the guise of a “fresh start”, Miscavige wants the past to be water under the bridge and for trust to be built between COS and The City of Clearwater.
On the surface the November 29th meeting between the new City Manager, City Attorney and leader of COS appears to be a positive thing. But as is true of all things Scientology, appearances are deceiving.
Behind the smiles and handshakes the truth is that there is nothing new here, only David Miscavige once again presenting an offer already on the table that favors him.
Ample time has elapsed in which Miscavige could have exhibited his desire to build trust with the City. Thus far there have been no indications that he intends to change his ways moving forward.
According to the TB Times, since 2019, 45 properties have been purchased by Scientology connected shell companies. Properties that, for the majority, have subsequently been left empty and undeveloped.
Added to these are the additional 100 lots all purchased by LLCs between 2017-2019, the bulk of which also sit unused.
Scientology Spokesperson Ben Shaw stated that COS was not involved in the acquisitions. If this is true, then how is it that Miscavige, in his offer to work with The City, indicates he is willing to discuss these unproductive properties?
Why would Miscavige have any negotiating power over these lots unless Scientology were, in fact, involved?
“During a sit-down that lasted 3½ hours, Miscavige reintroduced photo renderings and a video simulation of the downtown retail plan Scientology developed in 2017”
Everything old is new again.
According to Tony Ortega this was 3 1/2 hours of Scientology’s Chairman of the Board whining about how poorly the City has treated him.
Clearly proving that Miscavige has no compunction with deceit in order to get his own way, he put paid (at least in part) to Shaw’s earlier insistence that Scientology had no involvement with the multi million dollar land grabs.
“Miscavige confirmed at the time the church used limited liability companies to purchase the Myrtle Avenue land, a vacant jewelry store and auto garage, a nine-story office tower and a historic theater on North Fort Harrison Avenue for the retail plan.”
It would be unreasonable to assume that Miscavige was not behind all of the purchases.
Such actions are not an indication of putting the past behind and moving forward in a spirit of trust. Rather David Miscavige wants his own way and he is once again trying to manipulate and maneuver the City into capitulation.
It appears that any “partnership” is contingent upon Miscavige’s conditions. He wants to be the one calling the shots with the City falling into compliance.
This is not working together it is an ultimatum, an if/then event.
IF Miscavige gets what he wants, THEN he’ll work with the City of Clearwater.
Scientology’s leader has already displayed his juvenile temper when his will is thwarted.
In 2017 Clearwater Aquarium sold a lot to the City that Miscavige wanted. Scientology’s leader was so desperate to acquire the property that he offered a staggering $15 million to counter the $4.5 million on the table.
Thwarted by the Aquarium’s refusal to break their contract with the City, Miscavige first attacked the organization’s tax exempt status in an attempt to have it revoked.
When this failed, COB expressed his pique by shutting down all communication with the City. It was during this time that the massive property purchase took place.
It would appear that nothing new has come of this recent meeting.
Miscavige represented his original plan. A plan contingent upon his acquisition of a 1.4 acre parcel of land on Pierce Street. Beyond this contingency what else Miscavige wants is unclear.
Scientology’s leader now finds himself in a difficult position.
The reality is that the only thing he can do is continue to buy up every property he can get his hands on. If he had any real power he’d be putting forward his own candidates for City Council.
It will be interesting going forward to see just how Miscavige intends to achieve a partnership with the City.
Will there be negotiations, transparency and proof of trust or will the Scientology modus operandi continue as it began in lies, bullying and manipulation?
Our money is on the latter.
This is why it is hoped that Aaron Smith-Levin, candidate for a seat on the Clearwater City Council, wins this election. Smith-Levin’s perspective and experience as a former member of Scientology will allow him to face the machinations without blinking. His care for the City combined with his familiarity of the inner workings of COS uniquely qualify him to stand between Miscavige and Clearwater, thus ensuring what is in the best interest of the City and its citizens.