In 1975 The United Churches of Florida came to the city of Clearwater and purchased the historic Fort Harrison Hotel.
Claiming they were an ecumenical group from Los Angeles who wanted to improve ethics and morality in Clearwater, The United Churches of Florida deployed guards armed with mace and billy clubs to their newly acquired property. Not a very comforting look for a supposed religious group.
A suspicious Clearwater Mayor named Gabe Cazares confronted the so- called leaders of United Churches of Florida who told him they were just renting the Ft Harrison from another company, Southern Land Development Leasing Corporation.
Cazares continued digging and discovered that, in fact, Scientology had come to town.
Immediately Scientology attacked.
First they sued the Mayor for $1 million because (prophetically) he claimed that the city was being taken over. When that didn’t work, the cult devised Fair Game operations; one to create a sex scandal to ruin his career while the other was to frame him for a hit and run.
The St. Petersburg Times, now the Tampa Bay Times, would win a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of Scientology’s early days in Clearwater.
Scientology began exactly as it intended to continue, with deception, subterfuge and aggression towards the city it had infiltrated.
Since it first rooted itself in Clearwater, The Church of Scientology has surreptitiously engaged in a massive takeover, just as Mayor Cazares predicted. For the details see here and here.
Given this history one question springs to mind as the cult takes to social media in an unrelenting campaign of abuse against Tampa Bay Times journalist Tracey McManus.
No one in their right mind would demand a bully and their victim be partners in anything. Especially when the bully continues the abusive, aberrant behavior.
Scientology has had a parasitic relationship with the City of Clearwater since the very first purchase of the Fort Harrison Hotel. It is David Miscavige who does not want partnership or unity, he wants control.
Miscavige smiles and extends his right hand in cooperation while he holds a dagger in his left.
Scientology purchased the Ft. Harrison Hotel in 1975. It wasn’t until 2009 that it finally held its grand reopening event.
During this gala Miscavige publicly promised; “The bottom line is the same bottom line for the last 80-plus years: this Fort Harrison is and will always remain a landmark and home for all of Clearwater.”
Fort Harrison Hotel is not a “home for all of Clearwater”. It is for the exclusive use of Scientologists coming in to the City for courses.
Scientology continues to post the Urban Land Institute’s comment that the cult and the City need to find a way to work together. It phrases this particular passage in such a way as to make COS appear to be the slighted victim, the stoic, beleaguered church who just wants to help make Clearwater great again.
Lack of congenial partnership in this endeavor is everyone’s fault but Miscavige’s.
Urban Land Institute’s study was published in 2014. Five years and 4 months later Tracey McManus would expose the massive, hitherto undetected land grab by Scientology that, in the space of 3 years, doubled the cult’s ownership in the City of Clearwater.
ULI had, at the time of the study, no way of knowing Miscavige was still being deceitful and underhanded behind the City Council’s backs. How can “everyone feel invited” when half the players don’t even know the game is on?
Scientology began in the City of Clearwater with lies and continues in present time with lies. Under these conditions unity and partnership is nigh on impossible. There can be no collaboration without trust and transparency, neither of which David Miscavige is capable of.
Scientology is indeed the second largest landowner in Clearwater. Many of the properties sit empty, unused and in a state of disrepair. It is not the City exhibiting a lack of willingness to figure out a way through this morass, it’s David Miscavige.
Tweets like this are intentionally disingenuous. It is Scientology, the second largest landowner, who has effectively removed the potential for millions in tourist revenue from City coffers by stealthily purchasing then privatizing hotels, motels and condominiums.
Blaming anyone except for Scientology leader Captain David Miscavige for the state of the relationship between him and the City of Clearwater is an exercise in fallacy. Pretending as though COS is the wronged party is just more fantasy.
The fact is Miscavige has successfully maneuvered Scientology into the position it is in and now, unless the Clearwater City Council makes the majority of concessions in his favor, there appears no clear way forward. Rather than unity and partnership the Council has been manipulated into a subordinate stance.
Meanwhile Scientology pretends to be the afflicted party; wide eyed innocence and bewilderment at the refusal of everyone else to meet them halfway, asking for pity for their predicament.
All just more illusion. Another play being enacted on a public stage to misdirect. These tweets, the attacks on McManus are nothing more than red herrings to lead the reader away from the real culprit.
3 thoughts on “COS and Clearwater; What Unity?”
The Urban Land Institute was hired to express an opinion. They are advisers, consultants. They have no authority to implement solutions, let alone impose policy in such a troubled situation involving a consistently bad actor. An adviser, such as a marriage and family counsellor, may encourage a couple to do their utmost to repair their relationship, given the grave emotional and financial downsides of a divorce. Tragically, that advice is of little practical help to a battered spouse or one trying to protect their children from an abusive brute. There’s very little an adviser can do to mitigate such a situation.
It is categorically dishonest to claim that the report calls for “unity.” Least of all a unity requiring everyone’s subservience to the interests of a single constituency. By the cult’s own admission, the report states that “the city must have a unified vision.” Unmentioned remains the caveat the report follows this up with: “This vision must include each of the different constituencies that form Clearwater, and they must buy into that vision.”
Of course, a city’s chief purpose is working for the common good. The common good of ALL of its citizens, that is. A common good that can only be achieved as these interested parties “buy into” a common vision This is a far stretch from requiring that a city ought to move forward in “unity” lock-step with ONE special interest group. Especially one with no interest in buying into any vision that sn’t theirs alone.
Calls for such a peculiar form of “unity” become even more problematic, un-Constitutional even, if the “vision” is dictated by a religion, real or impostors alike. Should Clearwater ban alcohol for the sake of the Baptists? Close its stores on Saturdays to accomodate Jews and Seventh Day Adventists? Legalize polygamy for the sake of Fundamentalist Mormons? Impose standrds on beachwear that comply with Muslim sensibilities? Ban the sale of birth control to follow Catholic teachings? Restrict trespassing laws to make way for Jehovah’s Witnesses? Do the opposite of all of these to delight atheists? Or, as is demanded here, just roll over for the financial and propagandistic benefit of one marginal “religion” and turn over the keys to the city to them!
It remains equally mysterious how all of Clearwater would benefit by muzzling the local press. How it would be in the public interest to defund the Tampa Bay Times while promoting rapacious fundraising drives for IAS statuses and the shadowy activities of the Guardian’s Office of Special Affairs. Propaganda is a wondrous thing. While it may sound perfectly plausible to some despot, anyone else will find it clumsy, foolish, disingenuous and tin-eared. This propaganda is no different. All it does is reveal the propagandist for what they truly are.
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I always love reading your comments. This one is exactly on target and brings up excellent examples!