Clearwater: City of the Dead
From: barb Tue, 09 Aug 2005 12:12:20 -0700
Concerning the Clearwater Cafe problems, it might be time to repost this
comparison of Clearwater and San Diego, CA.
Back in the 60s, San Diego was beginning to evolve from a sleepy little
Navy town to a valuable tourist destination. Blessed with a mild
climate, palm trees, beautiful bays and beaches, and the fabulous San
Diego zoo, it was an ideal place for tourist development. Forty years
later, it has become a major attraction for both families and conventions.
Clearwater shares many of the same attributes. Sun, sand, palm trees, it
could have become a desirable place to take a vacation. The potential
was there, until a group moved in and started buying up property under
an assumed name, "United Churches of Florida." That group was actually
the Church of Scientology. Once entrenched, the organization began
making moves to take over the town.
In 1976, Scientologists released a "fact sheet" on Mayor Cazares and his
wife, accusing them of all manner of business and personal crimes;
trying to discredit him with rumours pertaining to his sex life, and
attempting to frame him in a hit-and-run accident.
Subsequent FBI raids of church offices in 1977 revealed several plans
directed at controlling the Clearwater media and local government by
infiltrating public services and business organizations.
What follows their arrival is a Gordian knot of lawsuits and antics as
Scientology attempts to rid the city of critics, suppress free speech,
and gain a greater control over the local government. These activities
continue to this day, to the detriment of Clearwater's reputation and
potential as a desirable convention and tourist destination, not to
mention its economy.
Meanwhile, during the same time period, San Diego continues to grow. Sea
World is built on Mission Bay. A major Convention Center attracts a
growing client base, bringing millions of dollars in revenue to the
city. Hotels are springing up to support the Convention Center. New
housing developments are everywhere.
Forty years can and should make a difference in a community's
development. The city of Clearwater has made its aspirations quite clear
as far as becoming a tourist destination. It would love to share in the
benefits of becoming a world-class attraction, yet, there is little to
entice travellers to stop and spend. The downtown area is moribund,
plagued by decaying, empty storefronts. San Diego's downtown, by
contrast, is booming. Thousands of people pour in on the weekends to
dine, shop, take in a movie, and see the historic Victorian ambience San
Diego has to offer. Twenty years ago, this district was dead, as
shopping malls took the business away from the area. Now restored, the
Gaslamp Quarter teems with tourists from all over the world.
Compare this scene with Clearwater. Scientology's heavy presence will
keep downtown in a state of decay. People simply don't want to visit a
place that has a frightening presence, and people are clearly frightened
by Scientology's reputation. Nor do they wish to enjoy themselves in an
environment monitored by Scientology cameras. The organization's
stranglehold on Clearwater guarantees that the city's goal of being a
tourist destination will never be realized.
That this situation has been allowed to continue in Clearwater is not
entirely a mystery. The number one goal of a politician is to get
reelected. Campaigns cost money, something the Scientology organization
has plenty of. Moreover, this problem is of such magnitude, that city
government seems willing to turn a blind eye to Scientology behavior in
the hopes that it will somehow all work out and go away.
When I read a statement from a Clearwater city representative hopefully
declaring "a new era of understanding" with Scientology, I can't help
but be reminded of another doggedly hopeful politician, Neville
Chamberlain, Prime Minister of England. He took office in 1937. During
his time in office, Germany merged with Austria. Following that union,
forbidden by the Versaille Treaty, Hitler demanded and was given the
Sudentenland, which was handed over in a misplaced belief that this act
would avoid war with the Third Reich. This document, the Munich
Agreement, was signed by Chamberlain, Hitler, and Mussolini. The deluded
Chamberlain returned to England and declared,
"My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime
Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with
honour. I believe it is peace for our time... Go home and get a nice
It is said that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to
repeat it. It appears that Clearwater city officials are doing just
that. They are doggedly clinging to a fantasy in which Scientology and
the community can "just get along." Moreover, Clearwater is bending over
backward to accomodate Scientology to the extent that ridiculous farce
is being played out in its courtrooms against those who speak out, and
certain illegal activities, such as assaults, have been ignored, even
when captured on video!
There is plenty of evidence available that shows Scientology to be a
totalitarian cult which will not hesitate to break the law when it suits
their purposes. Scientology likes to say, "we don't do that any more,"
while continuing in the activities they were investigated for in the 70s
It is interesting to note that, when Scientology is criticized for its
illegal and unethical behavior, it trots out the banner of religious
intolerance and persecution. The issue that city government seems to be
avoiding is this: it's not about religion, it is about the abuse of
people and the law.
It is evident that non-Scientology Clearwater residents don't like the
cult in their midst. Videos of pickets show a nonstop flow of public
support from drivers, honks, waves and thumbs up. Letters to the SP
Times are overwhelmingly critical of Scientology and its influence in
Clearwater. The majority of residents are afraid to speak out, however,
fearing the retribution Scientology is famous for.
That the city seems to favor a criminally convicted organization with a
continuing history of fraud, lies, and harassment is mystifying to me.
When I hear a city official blaming a watchdog group for the turmoil in
Clearwater, I can only shake my head in disgust. The Lisa McPherson
Trust is blamed for creating this environment of fear and conflict, as
well as wasting city resources through the police department which has
to respond to calls involving Scientology and the Trust. It would be
interesting to compare the two groups' requests for police assistance. I
would bet that the majority of calls come from Scientology, and are
merely nuisance calls utilizing the Clearwater police force as their
personal enforcement tool against their perceived enemies.
Blaming the Lisa McPherson Trust for Clearwater's problems makes as much
sense as blaming the chickens for attracting the fox.
The Lisa McPherson Trust certainly is not the cause of this conflict.
Its goal is to educate the people of Clearwater as to the true nature of
Scientology and help those who wish to leave. To the Scientology
organization, however, this is viewed as harassment. Picket signs are
perceived as harassment as well, as exposing the group's true nature
certainly impedes their attempts to be accepted in the community as a
benevolent asset to Clearwater. In its pursuit of this goal, it rides
roughshod over the First Amendment, attempts to frame and intimidate
people who speak out against them, has placed a hundred cameras around
downtown, and investigates people who write letters to the local paper.
Even its attempts to promote itself as a civil asset explodes in
controversy of its own making, the memorial brick project in the alley
being a good example. In a nutshell, this project was to beautify an
alley next to one of
Scientology's many buildings downtown. A memorial brick project was
by a group calling itself "Citizens for a Better Clearwater." Engraved
could be purchased for placement in the alley, which was also to be
landscaped and provided with benches and old-fashioned lights. On the
surface, this was a worthwhile project to improve a little piece of
This quickly devolved into a fiasco when a brick dedicated to the memory
of Lisa McPherson, a Scientologist who died in their care, was rejected.
Controversy erupted at this rejection. The Committee for a Beautiful
Clearwater denied any cult involvement in their group. It later came out
that this was a blatant lie; there were indeed Scientologists on this
committee, who used their influence to reject a brick dedicated to one
of their many victims. Oddly enough, the other rejected brick was in
memory of Leo J. Ryan,
the United States congressman who was slain in Jonestown, Guyana by
Peoples Temple followers at Jim Jones' order.
After this story of corruption and censorship hit the local Clearwater
papers, the city was gravely embarrassed by the controversy, and ordered
that the bricks be accepted for the alley park. By 2004, Lisa
McPherson's brick was the only one defaced, as Scientologists on break
ground their cigarettes out on her brick until her name was obliterated.
Jeff Jacobsen, who ordered the brick, complained to the city, and a new
brick was ordered and installed, this time in a well lighted area. It
really says something about Scientologists, that they would deface a
brick in remembrance of a victim of a potentially lethal practice known
as the Introversion Rundown, where a practitioner can be held against
While being held at Scientology's Fort Harrison hotel for seventeen
days, Lisa McPherson lost forty pounds and died of dehydration. The
Medical Examiner later changed her diagnosis to the one preferred by the
cult, that she had died of a blood clot from an earlier fender bender.
Dr. Woods then left her job and disappeared for a year, but the cult was
unable to suppress news about McPherson's death.
Clearwater needs to take stock of its image nationally. You have a
stagnant downtown dominated by the new, still unfinished prison-like
Superpower Building which will be topped by the Scientology double
cross. You have an atmosphere of fear and distrust, local residents
avoid downtown like the plague, and this is not conducive to attracting
outsiders to play and spend money.
In the past forty years, San Diego has evolved into a vibrant,
productive, successful community which has achieved its goals of being a
world-class tourist destination, while Clearwater's similar goals are
still just wishful thinking.
The main obstacle to achieving these goals is Scientology, period.
The city needs to make a compete assessment and decide which will be the
better path; does Scientology benefit the city's future to the same
degree that tourism will? The stark reality is, you can't have both. You
will either continue with a frightening, monitored community dominated
by Scientology, or a potential golden future as a tourist Mecca.
Scientology has its own agenda for Clearwater, and, despite claims to
the contrary from "church" spokesmen, their goals are not the same as
yours. Their goals are clearly stated, to create a community they can
run with impunity with no opposition, a community that will leave them
free to prey on the unwary, destroy human rights, and crush all
opposition. This is not hyperbole, any research into the writings of
Lafayette R. Hubbard will show that this plan is mapped out in detail
and, due to the inherent nature of Scientology's policy of adhering only
to Hubbard's unaltered writings, will never change.
Your first step will be to curtail Scientology's influence and let them
know that their unethical activities must stop. They must be shown that
the behavior they're so famous for will no longer be tolerated. You must
restore an atmosphere of tranquility to Clearwater so that people will
enjoy themselves rather than looking over their shoulders at the guy
taking pictures of them for no apparent reason. You must also restore
the human rights that Scientology is working so hard to strip away from
Until then, "Go home and get a nice quiet sleep," if you can.
"Imagine a church so dangerous, you must sign a release
form before you can receive its "spiritual assistance."
This assistance might involve holding you against your
will for an indefinite period, isolating you from
friends and family, and denying you access to
appropriate medical care. You will of course be billed
for this treatment - assuming you survive it. If not,
the release form absolves your caretakers of all
responsibility for your suffering and death.
Welcome to the Church of Scientology."
--Dr. Dave Touretzky