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Ontopic Discussion => General Discussion => Topic started by: Ididntcomeback on November 02, 2009, 08:42:01 AM

Title: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 02, 2009, 08:42:01 AM
                     Scientology takes another giant body blow.

Oct 31, 2009

Story and video here...

This is history in the making.
The most dangerous cult the world has ever seen is
being dismantled by a "bunch of kids" on the internet.

The implications of this send chills down my spine.
Think about it....

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 02, 2009, 10:09:49 AM
                                    It's a three part series:

NEW: Part three
Chapter 1

* Chased by their church
Hubbard said to let people leave scientology if they wanted, But make sure they leave with no secrets. Under David Miscavige, protecting secrets is paramount.
* "I just want to get on with my life" after Scientology
* From Scientology's files
* L. Ron Hubbard on 'Leaving and leaves'
* Who's who in this installment
* Scientology glossary, lingo, acronyms
* Scientology's Response
The entire 10-page response

Chapter 2

* Coming Monday:
What happened in Vegas
Some staffers who left the church were spied on. The story of a group of former Scientologists who were infiltrated for years.

Chapter 3

* Coming Tuesday
Don Jason's run
Once the No. 2 church officer in Clearwater, Don Jason ran and wound up in a locked cabin aboard the church cruise ship, the Freewinds. The story of an ingenious escape.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 02, 2009, 04:19:34 PM
Sixteen years later, Betsy Perkins is sobbing as she talks about the day she ran away from Scientology. • "I thought I was handing in my ticket to eternity," she says. • Now 56, a graphic artist in Dallas, she says she is going public to offer her own "first-hand account of what happened to a person who was in there." • She spent 17 years in Scientology's work force, the Sea Org, moved by the church's mantra that Scientologists held the future of the planet in their hands. • She tells of a life filled with intense repetition of Scientology's precepts and "ethics" and a grueling lifestyle where Sea Org members constantly needed to prove their fealty to the church. If your bosses had doubts about your performance or your thoughts, you faced humiliating work and periods of sleep deprivation. • But when eternal salvation is the reward, Perkins said, you come to believe it is all worth it. Even when she decided she couldn't take it anymore and ran from the Sea Org, she fretted she was doing something terrible. • "If anybody had come and talked to me, I would have gone (back). I would have gone willingly," she says. "Anybody could have taken me back. Easily ... I was so scared." • Telling her story to the Times by phone from her office, rattled her. "I am sitting in a conference room and I am shaking now," she said. • It is a story that began in May 1977.

Betsy was 23, a maid at Scientology's Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater. She had dropped out of the University of New Mexico to follow a big, blond British guy into the church. She married Chris Byrne three months after signing her billion-year Sea Org contract.

On May 7, her church told her she was evil.

During a "security check'' about organizational matters, she answered a question the wrong way, causing the auditor's e-meter needle to slap erratically. A "rock slam,'' it meant she had a hidden evil purpose.

Her superiors assigned her to the Rehabilitation Project Force, a work detail for Sea Org members in need of reform. She and her RPF crew mates spent five hours a day in sec checks and ethics counseling.

"You are told that all of your ideals, all of your goals, all of the things you believe in are really being driven by underlying evil and that you are so evil you have to be removed from your husband, your group, your organization, everything.''

She was told she was in a low ethical condition. "The only way to get out … is to take responsibility for your crimes. At that time, I didn't know what my crimes were, except that somehow I was suppressive toward humanity.''

She identified her evil actions, such as inflating an accomplishment or committing a bad act in a prior life. In follow-up counseling, she learned to "close down counter thoughts'' and purge her evil. After 1 ½ years, a review panel determined her original "rock slam'' reading and others were misread. She returned to her job on the housekeeping staff.

• • •  Continued here...

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 03, 2009, 07:37:15 AM
          Media picks up the St Petersburg times story

Scientology: You Can Check Out Anytime You Like, But You Can Never Leave

The St. Petersburg Times continues its impressive investigation into Scientology that it started publishing this summer with a new three-part series that began yesterday. The new series focuses on the ways the paranoid church makes it extremely difficult for staff members to leave, particularly if they were high up in the organization's hierarchy. When L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology's founder, was alive, certain precautions were taken, but people were allowed to leave. That began to change when David Miscavige took over and became obsessed with the thought that those who leave would reveal church secrets. The church obviously categorically denies everything, but the paper talked to defectors who organized pursuits and others who were pursued. The paper paints a clear picture of the way the organization operates when it feels threatened. Scientology spares no expenses to pursue runaways with the help of a vast database of personal information about staffer's lives—including bank accounts—and then convince them to come back with threats that they're risking their "eternity." Once they're coerced to return, they have to face a grueling ordeal of interrogations, coupled with a dose of humiliation, and manual labor. They are also abandoned by their family and friends. When those who defect are seen as particularly important—like those described in today's installment—the church has even paid for undercover agents to spy on the runaways, and bankrolled entire trips to Mexico and business ventures in Australia just to make sure they would be far away enough and not cause any trouble.

And another

And another...,news-comment,news-politics,tales-of-church-scientology-apostates-are-a-warning-to-peaches-geldof

They just keep coming...

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: NED on November 04, 2009, 06:21:02 AM
What is that banging noise I hear?.... Oh, it's another nail going in the coffin...

Rot in hell Scientology!

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 08, 2009, 07:48:23 PM

  My old boss... Don Jason

In print and on video.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 08, 2009, 10:48:21 PM
                       Reality is closing in.

The PR flaps that used to hit Scientology once a year are now happening
once a day. And it`s getting worse.
For those of you still in. I want to assure you that you are the victims
of very sophisticated mind control. You don`t think so ???

That`s how good it is !!!

The one thing you can use to test this is to ask yourself
why you are paranoid about receiving data about Scientology from
any source other than Scientology itself.

Particularly since as a comm course graduate you can confront anything.

When it all falls apart.. which I assure you is happening, you`ll say
"but if I knew all this, I would have walked out."

When you are brought to account for your illegal and immoral actions
taken for the greatest good.... You`ll say "But I was only doing my job."

Take back your own identity now.
Stop asking "What would Ron do ?"
Start asking " Do the critics of Scientology have any valid points ?"

Time is running out .

                 Investigation overdue: SP Times Editorial

Investigation overdue - St. Petersburg Times Editorial - 8th Nov 2009

When workers for the Church of Scientology sign a contract agreeing to serve in the church's Sea Organization for "the next billion years," the church can twist that agreement into a license to harass its workers, track them down if they leave and pressure them to return. What true church, what caring employer, would trample on the dignity and free choices of its own members in such a way? And what are authorities going to do about it?


The Church of Scientology trumpets its global reach and expansions in communities large and small across America. Its presence can be disruptive, as Clearwater has learned since the church secretly moved in and established its spiritual headquarters in the city more than 25 years ago. Government cannot afford to be complacent, and those politicians and community leaders who have normalized relations with Scientology can no longer claim ignorance about the nature of the church and the treatment of its workers.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 15, 2009, 10:51:01 PM
St Petersburg Times calls the cult out yet again.

14 th November 2009.

     Caught between Scientology and her husband, Annie Tidman chose the church

By Thomas C. Tobin and Joe Childs, Times Staff Writers
Posted: Nov 14, 2009 06:30 AM

This Annie,,,,  IS ANNIE BROEKER !!!

She and Pat Broeker are the keys to solving the  mysterious death of L Ron Hubbard and the ascension to power of David Miscavige.

Miscavige has silenced these two for twenty three years.

Here is the article...and photos

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on January 11, 2010, 12:20:57 AM

Looks like the SP times is gearing up to do another round with the cult...

Here is a post by Larry Brennan...

It may be a week from Sunday instead of tomorrow's edition but brace for more major coverage from the St Pete Times. I believe that the dwarf and his attorneys already have what the St Pete Times is publishing next and this Freedumb is their idea of a response. (SP Times sends them the story ahead of time for comment, etc. and the best Slappy can do is reply with foot nukes). Gawd I love this!

Also, IMHO brace for more from the SP Times after this next round as well. (Not to mention more TV coverage internationally IMHO).

I do believe that the SP Times is just getting warmed up:)

Larry Brennan.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on January 24, 2010, 07:14:30 PM
  Okay ....Here it goes.

You`ll love this...

In case you have missed some of the action as it`s unfolded...

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on January 25, 2010, 07:46:19 AM
Read the Tampa bay newspaper current edition.
Photo of Miscavige and wife , Shelly, with Larry Anderson.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on January 25, 2010, 03:06:50 PM
                      Message from Larry Anderson...

I told Larry that Anons were asking about whether he did the voiceover for the CoS video which labelled Anons as terrorists and said we had sent death threats, etc.

His response:

Absolutely not. In fact, I'm not even aware what video they are referring to. People apparently aren't fully grasping that for the last 4-5 years the Church has been very concerned about me and no doubt feared this day might come. Hence, I was most definitely off their "casting roster"; instead my status was more on the order of emergency "salvage mode" due to my expressed concerns about Scientology and those running the Church. Management and OSA were doing all they could to "handle" me and were very aware I was walking a narrow tightrope. I've been someone the CO$ has considered "dangerous" for several years now (well before Anonymous even existed) and they certainly weren't about to ask me to be a key person in any further Scientology videos or audio recordings for fear of the backfire potential (like it has with Orientation).

BTW, please impart to those on WWP and ESMB that I have been reading the threads and have been moved to "watery eyes" (no actual tear has dripped however... yet) by the support and heartfelt things they have been saying. Funny thing is -- I haven't even read the article yet! Only the posts! When it hit the St. Pete Times last night I was leaving to attend a friend's birthday party and didn't get home until so late that I quickly read some of the BB reactions and went to bed (I wanted to read the article with a clear mind and having had my coffee!). So now it's late morning and all I've done so far is catch up on the threads. Gonna have some late breakfast and get to the article in an hour or so.

I have to tell you these people are very creative and have had me in stitches with their commentary on the photo of me, DM and his missing wife, Shelley. The Howdy Doody, Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy and most especially the Alfred E. Neuman graphics had me rolling. I can't believe DM actually sent me that picture himself, after the event, with a nice note saying how much they enjoyed seeing me, etc. etc. Apparently he had no problems with his appearance and new hairstyle. Wonder if he still thinks that now, a decade later.

I have much more to say on this and will likely sign up to both ESMB and WWP soon (I've been lurking for several years) to express my gratitude and provide additional info that the Times report wasn't willing to print.

Thanks again to all for your kind words.
Would someone mind cross-posting to ESMB, please?


Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on February 22, 2010, 03:49:15 PM
             Scientology Church hires reporters to investigate newspaper

Article from The Washington Post

This could backfire badly for the cult. Really badly.
Hope the Investigators have cashed their cheques.

Look at Miscavige`s face. The tone of covert hostility has been
demonstrated with a picture of the Mona Lisa in Scio courses.
Miscavige just posed for a better one.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on February 24, 2010, 04:53:17 PM
                      On Taking the Scientologists' Shilling
                                    CHIGAGO READER

Posted by Michael Miner on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 6:43 PM

Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post reported this week that three experienced and reputable journalists recently were paid by the Church of Scientology to examine a newspaper the Scientologists despise, the St. Petersburg Times.

The reporters in the project were Russell Carollo, who won a Pulitzer for investigative journalism at Dayton, Ohio's Daily News in 1998, and Christopher Szechenyi, formerly a producer at 60 Minutes. The product's editor was Steve Weinberg, former executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors and a longtime faculty member of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Weinberg told Kurtz he was paid $5,000 for his work, which was "kind of like editing a Columbia Journalism Review piece." The project was an "unusual situation" and "certainly [not] something just any reporter would do." But "my role was more limited, and I can certainly use the money these days." He said the Scientologists can put the report "in a drawer" if they wish, but if they publish it must publish it in full.

In a joint statement to Kurtz, Carollo and Czecheny said they hesitated to take the job and "that's why we insisted on being paid in full before we started our work, total editorial independence and having someone with the reputation of Steve Weinberg involved."

So what we have here is the Scientologists hiring top journalists to bolster their counterattack against the journalists who have been plaguing them for decades. No surprise — the Times wasn't very happy with the situation and wouldn't cooperate with Carollo and Czecheny. "I was surprised and disappointed that journalists who I understand to have an extensive background in investigative reporting would think it's appropriate to ask me or our news organization to talk about that reporting while (a) it's ongoing, and (b) while they're being paid to ask these questions by the very subjects of our reporting," Times executive editor Neil Brown told Kurtz.

Is there a whiff of a sense of betrayal in Brown's comment? Carollo and Czecheny could hardly wait until the reporting was no longer ongoing — the Times won a Pulitzer in 1980 for a series of articles on how the Scientologists had set up shop in nearby Clearwater, Florida, its international headquarters, and its been preoccupied by the church ever since. Last June the paper ran a series of three exceptionally long articles, "Scientology: The Truth Rundown," a narrative — based on the recollections of two former top officers — of how "physical violence permeated Scientology's international management team."

Last month brought another lengthy expose — about the so-far futile efforts of a prominent former spokesman for the Scientologists to recover some $120,000 he'd prepaid for programs he would never take because he'd decided to leave the church.

As for who's paying whom to do what, would this be an issue if instead of journalists for hire we were discussing lawyers for hire? A team of top-flight attorneys who consider the Scientologists a wacko cult could represent them in court against equally distinguished practitioners who sing the Times's praises to a judge but wouldn't read the paper on a bet. That could happen and no questions would be raised about what's appropriate conduct and what isn't.

But journalists are touchier than lawyers. We tell our children we afflict the rich and powerful, not represent them. If the Church of Scientology is the plucky but outgunned underdog in its long war with the mighty Times, that's only in the war being fought in its imagination.

The Scientologists hardly needed Weinberg, Carollo, and Szechenyi in order to mount a defense against the Times. They're old hands at counterattacks. As Kurtz noted, their magazine Freedom "has repeatedly assailed" the Times. It just produced a "special report" that takes readers "inside the St. Petersburg Times." The front-page headline: "STEAL, BRIBE AND SPY."

The longest story in the package was written by Jim Lynch, yet another veteran journalist who took the Scientologists' shilling. When I wrote about Lynch last October he was dissecting the Sun-Times Media Group for me as he'd gotten to know it as editor and publisher of its Naperville Sun from February 2006 to June 2008. When the STMG let him go, he moved to Florida and looked for work.

Lynch's story in Freedom is headlined, "An Outsider's View of Scientology in Clearwater / What happens when an independent journalist takes an objective look at St. Petersburg Times coverage of the Church of Scientology?"

What happened is that Lynch disapproved of it. He called it "perhaps the most egregious and ethically challenged series of the year." He tells me, "You sort of doubt the veracity of sources when there's no corroboration. If a guy said he had the shit beaten out of him, why didn't he file a police report. Why didn't he file a lawsuit? Come on!"

The Times series has answers to those questions, but they are answers that hang on our ability to believe that some people so totally surrender their egos to wills stronger than their own that — when their masters treat them like whipped dogs — they convince themselves they have it coming. This is an easy premise to embrace if you're telling a terrific story that hangs on it, and it's just as easy to reject if you want to knock the story down.

Lynch wrote that "it defies logic" that the Times published its "Truth Rundown" series without waiting a few days longer for a promised interview with the head of the Church of Scientology, David Muscavige, to take place. The series described Muscavige as a mesmerizing bully and sadist. "What was the rush to print before Miscavige could be interviewed?" Lynch wondered. "And since he wasn't, could this be construed as a rush to judgment?"

It's a question "Truth Rundown" could have done a better job of anticipating. The series did say this: "On May 13, the Times asked to interview Miscavige, in person or by phone, and renewed the request repeatedly the past five weeks. Church officials said Miscavige's schedule would not permit an interview before July." So apparently the Times concluded that despite the promises it was getting the runaround.

Lynch, who lives in Boca Raton, Florida, spent two weeks in Clearwater reporting and writing the story in Freedom. He spent additioinal time working on a more complicated second piece — not yet published — about the Times's relationship with the not-for-profit Poynter Institute that owns it. Much of his first story consists of chats with local people who describe the Scientologists as solid citizens who are good for the community. "They're involved in a lot of programs and invest a lot of money," says a former county commissioner who became a Tampa developer. "I think they've made a positive impact." Says an unnamed police officer, "Nope, never had any issues with them."

But from the Times, and only from the Times, Lynch spotted "long ingrained hostility." (He says nobody there would talk to him either.)

Lynch didn't know anything about the other project until I sent him Howard Kurtz's story. "This was kept at arm's length," he says. "I can certainly use the money," Steve Weinberg had told Kurtz. "That's a quote I would not have used," says Lynch, and not only because he thinks it was a dumb thing to say. "I didn't necessarily do this for the money. I've always had an interest in religion and this gave me a good way to examine a religion I never had a chance to examine." However, Lynch also says that when he took the job he made it clear to the Scientologists he wouldn't stand for any proselytizing, and as long as they understood that he didn't care what they believed. "I told them, I said, 'Look, I happen to be a Catholic. My wife's Jewish. My views on religion are if people want to worship at Mayan temples, fine with me. You guys, albeit a nontraditional religion, are a religion under the auspices of the U.S. Constitution."

Lynch kept an eye on the Internet reaction to Kurtz's story, and it didn't surprise him. "I love the way the aggregators jumped on these guys, like they betrayed the nobility of journalism and it's like the end of the world. It's another instance of journalistic self-flagellation. I've never understood any industry that beats itself up like journalism does. The truth is, journalism is a for-profit enterprise like anything else."

As for that, he doesn't want to say what the Scientologists paid him. But he asks, "Just don't make me look like a shill for Scientology." And he adds, "Say hello to my pals at the Sun-Times. You can stick that in there too, all right."

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on February 28, 2010, 10:51:15 AM
 Reporters paid by Scientologists to investigate St. Pete Times 'proud of the work we did'

"We took great care in insuring that our work was free of all outside interference by any entity, including the Church of Scientology," say Christopher Szechenyi, Steve Weinberg and Russell Carollo. Neil Brown, executive editor of Poynter's St. Petersburg Times, refused to answer their questions, and says that "only upon pressing them, found out they were being paid ... by the Church of Scientology." || Related.
Posted at 9:57 AM on Feb. 26, 2010


Homework on subjects
Posted by Chuck Beatty 2/27/2010 10:14:08 AM

"One hires a reporter who gets to work thinking up ideas and turning out releases." -L. Ron Hubbard, "HOW TO HANDLE BLACK PROPAGANDA" church offi... "One hires a reporter who gets to work thinking up ideas and turning out releases." -L. Ron Hubbard, "HOW TO HANDLE BLACK PROPAGANDA" church official policy, published 21 Nov 1972. It is Scientology church scriptures to use reporters to do this type of work defending Scientology. The bottom line is David Miscavige beat up staff, the St. Pete Times followed the story, found over a dozen people who corroborated the staff to staff violence story. Scientology's largest biggest downside is the top staff mentality, likened to Stockholm Syndrome or abused spouse syndrome, the climate of staff to staff violence that David Miscavige condoned and fueled. No reporter nor new religion scholar has had the guts to take up this history of Scientology, except two newspapers, the St. Pete Times and an Oregon newspaper briefly in their article on Jeff Hawkins, which was the first breaking of the staff to staff upper ranks Scientology violence story. We sadly lack scholars and reporters sufficiently knowledgeable of Hubbard's church scriptures and of the many critical books and even of the 1968 Granada Productions filmed interview with L. Ron Hubbard, to poke through L. Ron Hubbard's own blatant lying. Chuck Beatty, ex Scientology staffer 1975-2003. Pittsburgh, 412-260-1170. I'll help any journlist or researcher wishing to start digging into Hubbard's scriptures for sniffing out the Hubbard marching orders that unfortunately Scientologists are obligated to continue to perpetrate on society which in turn causes the recurring press stories and backlash.

Don't call it journalism
Posted by Betty Medsger 2/26/2010 4:24:25 PM

It's all right for those three journalists to conduct an investigation for Scientologists. They just shouldn't call it journalism. Call it an inv... It's all right for those three journalists to conduct an investigation for Scientologists. They just shouldn't call it journalism. Call it an investigation on behalf of a paying client. It's a shame that Steve Weinberg compared their taking money form Scientologists to investigate an organization Scientologists are suing to the new journalism organizations that are raising money from foundations to support journalism. Some people have suggested that those news organizations are going to have a hard time being independent of their funding sources. But most are trying desperately to be independent. Weinberg's claim that this project paid for by Scientology is in the same ballpark as those foundation-funded new groups just made it more difficult for them to claim integrity.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on March 28, 2010, 11:17:23 AM
 St.Petersburg Times critical scientology series wins award
76th annual National Headliner Awards
AP 24th March 2010
A complete list of winners in 76th annual National Headliner Awards |


Daily Newspapers

Writing and Reporting


Investigative reporting:
The Washington Post, Debbie Cenziper and Meg Smith, "Wasting Away"; The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer, J. Andrew Curliss and staff, "Executive Privilege"; St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Thomas C. Tobin and Joe Childs, "Inside Scientology: A Times' Special Report."

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on June 13, 2010, 05:43:11 PM
                        Scientology and abortion

In Print: Sunday, June 13, 2010

The St. Petersburg Times quotes Hubbard and then interviews
ex scios on video.
   Scientology has decimated it`s best recruitment pool.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on June 14, 2010, 04:43:30 PM
             Church of Scientology's response

Will Tommy admit the truth ? Will Scientology finally take responsibility for
its actions ?  Will the Pope come out as gay ?

Times staff writer
In Print: Monday, June 14, 2010

 Church of Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis says the accounts of Natalie Hagemo and her daughter, Shelby LaFreniere, are untrue.

Hagemo's description of being pressured to have an abortion and shunned while in the Sea Org: "False and denied."

That Shelby was mistreated while working for the church in Los Angeles and Clearwater: also "false and denied."

In a letter to the Times, Davis said: "The Church has the deepest respect for family and the creation of a family and children. There is no hostility towards pregnant women."

He addressed Hagemo's account that two officers from Scientology's Commodore's Messenger Organization, or CMO, pressured her to have an abortion in 1990. "Clearly this is a vivid incident for Ms. Hagemo; can she not recall the name of the 'CMO Officers' who spoke to her and berated her?" Hagemo says she cannot.

"Ms. Hagemo's contentions are the statements of someone who is rewriting history to justify her decision to leave Scientology," Davis said.

"No one tried to get her to abort her daughter. Once her daughter was grown, no one forced her to give permission for her daughter to join the Sea Organization, or withdraw that permission a few weeks later. No one forced her daughter to then return to the church as a trainee several years later, or to leave the church when she, like her mother, changed her mind."

Copy of Tommy`s letter here as a PDF...

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on June 16, 2010, 08:53:02 AM
 A spin off from the ST Petersburg times articles..

Christianity today wades in.

Broadsheet weighs in ..

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on June 16, 2010, 09:05:00 AM
                   Church of Scientology: The Headley Lawsuits


Former Scientologists Claire and Marc Headley are suing the Church of Scientology in separate actions in federal court in Los Angeles.

Marc Headley, 37, alleges he was the victim of unfair business practices, labor law violations and forced labor, or human trafficking, during his 15 years in the church's Sea Organization.

Claire Headley, 35, alleges the church forced her to have two abortions during her 13 years in the Sea Org. She also claims working conditions at the church's international management base near Hemet, Calif., constituted human trafficking.

Church lawyers have fought both actions aggressively, deposing the Headleys and other former Sea Org members and filing thousands of pages of motions, memoranda and arguments....

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on June 17, 2010, 10:04:46 PM
                St Pete Times Editorial concerning Scientology

It seems as though the St Pete Times is really beginning to get it, seeing some of the deeper layers of the scientological onion.

Here's an editorial appearing in today's newspaper.

If you have time, go onto their website, register, and make a comment in the "comments section" below the article to counter some of the BS from the OSAbots who are there.

A Times Editorial

        Scientology's family-friendly image contrasts with pressure for abortions

In Print: Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Among the beliefs listed in the "Creed of the Church of Scientology": "All men have inalienable rights … to the creation of their own kind" and "no agency less than God has the power to suspend or set aside these rights, overtly or covertly." Yet a very different picture emerges from women who became pregnant while working for the church. They relate painful stories of intimidation, shaming, shunning or outright coercion by the church until women agreed to abortions or were forced out. It is yet another example where the church's cultivated image does not match reality.
The public image of the Church of Scientology is family-friendly. But inside the organization's 6,000-member work force called the Sea Org, young women who became pregnant faced a barrage of tactics clearly designed to weaken their resistance to abortion. These women were victims, swayed by an organization that already controlled their lives and in effect denied them free will to make their own decisions about their pregnancies.
In reports Sunday and Monday, St. Petersburg Times staff writers Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin told the stories of women who said they as well as other women they knew were pressured to have abortions while working for the Sea Org. Those workers toil long hours for little pay and are subjected to punishments if they are not productive or try to leave.
In some cases the women joined the Sea Org while still children themselves, recruited by the church and lured into signing billion-year contracts. Separated from their parents and often married as teenagers, they naturally wanted to start their own families.
Laura Dieckman joined the Sea Org at 12, married at 16 and was pregnant at 17. But her disapproving supervisors pressured her to end the pregnancy, she said. Claire Headley joined the Sea Org at 16, married at 17 and was pregnant at 19. She felt pressured enough to have two abortions while a Sea Org member. Sunny Pereira, who joined the Sea Org at 15 and married at 21, also had two abortions.
The prospect of motherhood should have been a joyful time for them, but instead it became a grueling test of loyalty. Continuing their pregnancies, they were told, was an unacceptable distraction from the church's mission to "save the planet." Ending the pregnancies would prove their loyalty to the church and keep them in the fold. Women who continued their pregnancies were taunted or shunned by other Sea Org members, isolated from their husbands or assigned to long hours of manual labor, the women said.
Church spokesman Tommy Davis denied all of the allegations by the women. Yet the church acknowledges that children are discouraged because they get in the way of the group's work. Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, who wrote the Scientology creed, was a father of six. After he died in 1986 and David Miscavige, who has no children, assumed the top spot, Sea Org members who wanted to have children were shunted off to work at small, unproductive Scientology churches where they could not earn a livable wage. In 1996, Sea Org members were banned from having children. Those who became pregnant were forced to leave.
Davis told the Times that the policy that now prohibits having children "evolved out of respect for families and deference to children." That's the height of hypocrisy, coming from an organization that recruits children into its labor force, requires them to sign billion-year contracts, separates them from their families and subjects them to 18-hour workdays.
No woman should be coerced into making this painful decision, which only she can make — even by powerful bosses inside a church. The stories of pregnancies terminated by vulnerable young women under considerable pressure are one more fracture in the polished facade of the Church of Scientology.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on June 19, 2010, 11:48:11 AM
                       SP Times wins Gold Medal in FSNE Awards

2010 FSNE Awards list
(Florida Society of News Editors)
 Division A

Newspapers with daily circulation of 125,000 or more:
FSNE Gold Medal for Public Service

Joe Childs, Thomas Tobin

St. Petersburg Times

Inside Scientology

The St. Petersburg Times reporting on the Church of Scientology is in the finest traditions of American journalism. The reporting by Joseph Childs and Thomas Tobin stands out for the ways in which it held accountable the powerful.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on June 19, 2010, 07:59:06 PM
                  Letters to the Editor
Saturday letters: The realities of Scientology are being distorted

In Print: Saturday, June 19, 2010

 Once again you try to paint an ugly picture of a religious movement that has helped hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of people lead happy and successful lives. So let me address your latest falsehoods.

My experience in Scientology has been incredible.

I have been a member of the Church of Scientology since 1973. I met and married my husband while working for the church. I have raised two sons in the church. They are both practicing Scientologists. They have never taken drugs or abused alcohol. They are ethical and productive members of society. My husband and I have been married 32 years. We are both productive members of society. We both do extensive volunteer work in Clearwater.

THERE IS NO CHURCH POLICY CONCERNING ABORTION. I put that in all caps because I'm not sure that it will come across accurately if I don't. What's true about the Church of Scientology is not what any member or former member says. Even what I say is not the truth about the Church of Scientology. What is true is what L. Ron Hubbard wrote or said.

I know countless Scientologists who have children. I know hundreds — if not thousands — of staff members who have children. I know members of the Sea Organization who have raised children within that group.

Therefore your Sunday headline — No kids allowed — is a lie, pure and simple. But it is no less than what I expect from your newspaper.

I thank goodness that there are people in this society who do help others and who take responsibility for their own lives. The people you interviewed obviously don't do either.

Joanie Sigal, Clearwater

Interesting exercise to transpose the word Scientology for Nazi Party.

plenty more here...

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on June 24, 2010, 10:16:25 AM
Published by "The St Petersburg Times" Jan 1980.

A twenty page booklet exposing the cult.
Fascinating reading.

Mrs. Hartwell vividly recalls the filming of a movie called The Unfathomable Man, which chronicled Hubbard's view of mankind from its beginning to the present.

BEFORE HUBBARD would visit the set, women with white gloves came to inspect the area for cleanliness. When it was determined that it needed a thorough cleaning to meet Hubbard's standards, the women with gloves produced a special soap and list of instructions for cleaning the set.

The walls had to be cleaned with only the special soap, the women insisted, and then rinsed with four clean waters, meaning that each time a sponge was dipped into a bucket, the bucket had to be emptied and refilled with fresh water. As a result, the cleaning of the set took hours to complete.

"Ron would always get on the set at about 8 p.m., and we'd work straight through to 7 a.m. with nothing to eat or drink," Mrs. Hartwell says. "We'd take a half-hour break at 1 a.m., but nobody was allowed to eat, except for Ron, of course. He always had about 20 or 30 people around him and they would clear the way for him when he came on the set.

"He'd always head straight for his director's chair, which nobody else was allowed to touch. He'd get in that chair, cross his legs and start swingin' 'em and then he'd start screaming."

As a makeup assistant, Mrs. Hartwell soon learned that one of Hubbard's favorite film devices was the use of "blood," which consisted of Karo Syrup and red food coloring. To accommodate Hubbard's sanguineous impulses, the makeup assistants would prepare the fake blood by the gallons.

"Did he ever like those films to be bloody — I mean it was enough to make you sick," she explains.

"WE'D BE shooting a scene and all of sudden he'd yell 'Stop! Make it more gory, make it more gory.' We'd go running out on the set with all this Karo Syrup and food coloring and we'd just dump it all over the actors. Then we'd film some more and he'd stop it again and say 'it's not gory enough.' And we'd throw some more blood on them."

Hubbard once ordered so much blood dumped on two actors that their clothes literally became glued to their bodies by the sticky syrup, and wardrobe technicians had to cut the clothing off of them.

"Funny thing about these movies," adds Mr. Hartwell, "is that they never get shown to anyone. Hubbard would always blame somebody for screwing it up and order the movie shelved."

The shelving of the movies is but one example of the contradictory and unreasonable orders the Hartwells say Hubbard often gave.

They say Hubbard once complained that too much money was being spent at the ranch and ordered a ban on all purchases.

Unfortunately, Hubbard's ban coincided with a shortage of toilet paper at the ranch, but even then the Father of Scientology would not relent.

FOR 10 DAYS, says Mrs. Hartwell, Hubbard's charges ripped pages from telephone books to use as toilet tissue. After 10 days, the ban on spending was lifted.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on January 31, 2011, 03:41:08 PM
        Scientology founder's tenets drive Pinellas title company, under fire for rapid document processing

By Susan Taylor Martin, Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers
In Print: Sunday, January 30, 2011

In 2009, a low-profile Pinellas County company drew unwelcome attention in a growing national controversy over home foreclosures.

Employees of Nationwide Title Clearing, a leading processor of mortgage-related documents for banks, loan servicers and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., were under fire for signing paperwork as "vice president'' of various banks although they actually worked for NTC.

The assembly-line process in which workers scrawled their names or initials on hundreds of documents at a time — typically without reading them — helped prompt the term "robo-signing.'' Critics said robo-signing raised questions about the accuracy of documents and the legality of thousands of foreclosure cases.

What few people knew was that the Palm Harbor company had extensive ties to the Church of Scientology. And that NTC's owners, who have donated heavily to church projects, ran the company on management principles of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Norm Novitsky, a longtime Scientologist who founded NTC in 1992, once credited the company's success to Scientology.

"There are many companies like ours,'' he wrote on a Scientology-related website, "but I'm proud to say, through hard work and L. Ron Hubbard's administrative technology, in just a short time we rose to being one of the leading servicers in our field."

Hubbard's "tech," originally used to manage his church and later adapted to business, stresses the use of statistics to measure and spur employee output. Companies with flat-line statistics showing no change are in an "emergency'' condition, he said.

The use of Hubbard's technology on Nationwide's busy campus — which can image up to 500,000 pages of mortgage documents a day — has sparked complaints that the company foists Scientology principles on workers and creates a high-pressure environment.

"Employees are being told not to talk to each other and if they do, they are terminated,'' a manager of WorkNet Pinellas, a nonprofit job agency, wrote in an e-mail to colleagues in December. "Papers that are signed at the time of hire have L. Ron Hubbard info on it.''

NTC's owners declined to be interviewed. In a statement responding to questions submitted by the St. Petersburg Times, the company acknowledged that it uses Hubbard's techniques, which it described as "nonreligous,'' and that it offers employees courses at work based on his management theories.

"We use this system because we have found it to be workable,'' the statement said, adding emphasis. "Twenty years ago, NTC started with limited capital, today NTC provides nearly 200 jobs in Pinellas County. This is what we mean by workable.''

The company denied pressuring or forcing employees to study Scientology or to become Scientologists. "This workplace is for work: no religious prejudice, hostility or intolerance has any role here.''

Other companies are accused of robo-signing, but there is no indication Hubbard's "tech'' is part of their workplaces. But as one of the nation's leading service providers to the residential mortgage industry, NTC is an example of the Hubbard business principles put into practice. And a look at NTC offers insight into thousands of other companies that use Hubbard's techniques, many of them Tampa Bay businesses also owned by Scientologists.

Production above all

Now 64 and retired from NTC, Novitsky lives in California and has become an independent film producer.

He didn't respond to requests for an interview for this story. But on a website where Scientologists tell how they've been helped by the religion, Novitsky said he joined Scientology during a turbulent period in his early 20s.

"I couldn't hold onto success very long and ALL of life's mysteries and answers were occluded to me,'' he wrote.

At a friend's suggestion, Novitsky visited a Scientology center in San Francisco and "the rest is history,'' as he put it. According to the website of his BluNile films, he studied "Organizational Executive Management and Marketing and his early career focused on those areas.''

Those were areas that fascinated Hubbard.

Along with writing his seminal work, Dianetics, Hubbard developed operational principles and techniques that could be applied to all organizations, including businesses. First used by staffers in Scientology churches, they eventually were issued as the Organization Executive Course and the Management Series set and were made available to Scientologists.

Hubbard preached that managers keep a keen eye on statistics and not worry about coddling employees.

"However one tries to coat the pill, there is no substitute, in an executive, for the ability to get the crew to produce," he wrote. "The fire-breathing product officer will be followed and supported when the wishy-washy old pal guy will be stepped all over in the rush to follow the real leader."

The only way for an organization to survive is to grow, said Hubbard, who also devised a system of "ethics" in which unproductive employees could work their way out of conditions called "danger'' and "nonexistence.''

Novitsky embraced Hubbard's theories. By 1988, he had served as president of a California mortgage company and started his own company, Public Home Loans.

Then in May 1992, "after extensive R&D in the banking services industry,'' Novitsky founded Nationwide Title Clearing in Glendale. It was 5 miles from Scientology's world headquarters in Los Angeles.

Companies like NTC are premised on a simple idea: Banks have something better to do with their time and staff than processing massive amounts of paperwork. Instead, the servicer handles the preparation and recording of lien releases, assignments of mortgage and other routine documents — work that requires rote efficiency by lower-level employees.

Just a year later, Novitsky and his wife, Terri, declared bankruptcy. He reported making $5,700 a month at NTC, but had debts of $667,639, including $120,000 he owed his own loan company.

Records show that Novitsky shared ownership of NTC with three other Scientologists — Alan Turbin, Edward E. Marsh and Ivan "Ike'' Kezsbom. The latter had worked as a loan counselor for Novitsky and had declared bankruptcy himself with nearly $500,000 in debts, most of it from a mortgage and credit cards.

Within a few years, fortunes markedly improved.

"By 1996 the company had become one of the leading service companies of its kind,'' Novitsky's BluNile bio says.

NTC said Novitsky's financial affairs were personal and never affected the company.

Though NTC remained in California through the '90s, it began looking east to the lower-cost Tampa Bay area. And Clearwater was home to the church's spiritual headquarters and thousands of Scientologists.

"We wanted a community to settle into permanently and develop headquarters large enough to facilitate an expansion of services,'' Jim Stewart, NTC's former president, would later tell the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce. "We found that perfect match in Pinellas County.''

He added that the bay area "provided a strong employee base.''

By 2001, Novitksy, Marsh and Kezsbom, NTC's president, all had homes in Clearwater.

A year later, Abundant Life Family Church, a Christian congregation that had closed its school and needed to reduce its space, sold its three buildings in Palm Harbor for $2.1 million to a new company called National U.S. Alliance. Its incorporation papers had the address of Kezsbom's Clearwater house, but didn't list any officers or directors.

As the deal was going through, NTC already had applied to do business in Florida. It incorporated in early 2003 and by that summer completed its move to Pinellas County.

Church before self

In its early years in Florida, NTC felt the shock waves of a huge fraud that exploited close ties among Scientology's business community.

Reed Slatkin, a California Scientologist, had promoted himself as a successful financial adviser. In fact, he was running the biggest pre-Madoff Ponzi scheme in history, paying early investors with money raised from newer ones. The trustee in Slatkin's 2001 bankruptcy case alleged that part of the money Slatkin took in was transferred to the Church of Scientology.

NTC and three of its owners — Novitsky, Marsh and Kezsbom — invested $7.8 million with Slatkin and later submitted claims to the bankruptcy court.

But in a notable display of loyalty to Scientology, Kezsbom didn't want to be made whole at the expense of his church.

"I am a long-standing member of the Church of Scientology,'' he wrote the court after learning that the trustee intended to sue to recover money from the church. "I would be opposed to any plan that involves suing my Church.''

In 2003, Slatkin was sentenced to 14 years in prison on fraud and money-laundering charges. In 2006, the trustee settled the lawsuit with the church and related entities, which agreed to pay $3.5 million.

Kezsbom didn't live to see it. On Nov. 28, 2003, not long after his letter to the court, he died suddenly at age 56.

Boom was a boon

Within a few months of Kezsbom's death, his sons-in-law, John Hillman and Todd Kugler, both Scientolgists, became officers of Nationwide Title Clearing.

In 2006, the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce named it "Large Business of the Year,'' citing its "outstanding presence'' in the community and its Hurricane Katrina relief efforts that collected more than 2,000 pounds of food and other essentials. The company also conducted food and clothing drives for local charities.

During the real estate boom, NTC grew as millions of loans were sold and resold, creating an avalanche of documents to be processed. But it was not until the bubble burst that notoriety hit.

With millions of Americans facing foreclosure, defense lawyers pored over mortgage-related documents for any hint of errors or fraud that could be used to defend a foreclosure case.

In 2008, Chris Hoyer, a Tampa lawyer who runs the online Consumer Warning Network, noticed that the names "Bryan Bly'' and "Crystal Moore'' appeared on documents filed all over the country. Sometimes they signed as notaries, sometimes as vice president of various banks.

Hoyer discovered that both worked for NTC. Neither had any background in real estate or banking. Bly's previous jobs included remodeling an Eckerd drugstore and working for a carnival operator.

"These pieces of paper are very important,'' said Hoyer, "and the problem with signing as vice president is that they're not.''

As criticism mounted, NTC said its procedures were legal and standard in the document-processing industry. It noted that it had corporate resolutions in which banks authorized Bly and other employees to sign on their behalf.

But in November, Sarasota lawyer Christopher Forrest posted on YouTube videotaped depositions he had taken of Bly, Moore and a co-worker in a foreclosure suit he was defending. The trio stumbled over common terms like "assignment of mortgage'' and described a factory-like process in which they signed hundreds of documents at a time.

Asked if she ever read any of the documents she signed, Moore replied: "No.''

Asked how much time she spent with each document, she said: "A few seconds.''

Unique work culture

The depositions were embarrassing, and NTC quickly moved to stem the damage.

With bloggers pouncing on the depositions as more evidence of alleged "robo-signing,'' NTC got a court order forcing Forrest to remove them from YouTube. It also sued St. Petersburg lawyer Matthew Weidner in a case that was settled after he deleted from his blog statements that the company called false and libelous.

All 50 state attorneys general are investigating allegations of errors and fraud in documents that banks need to foreclose. NTC does not prepare foreclosure documents like lis pendens and affidavits of lost note, and is not among the companies under probe.

But NTC is being sued in federal court by a Wisconsin couple facing foreclosure. They allege that NTC prepared thousands of assignments of mortgage, which transfer ownership of a loan from one party to another, as part of a scheme to make it appear that Deutsche Bank owned their loans and those of other homeowners.

In none of the depositions made public so far have lawyers asked about NTC's ties to Scientology. But in a deposition last year in a Duval County foreclosure case, the company's senior vice president of administration — Erika Lance — referred to "the organizing board'' that shows the company's various divisions.

"Org Boards'' — as they are usually called — are common in businesses that use Hubbard's organizational and management techniques.

Lance joined NTC in 2004 and was making nearly $84,000 as of late 2009, unusual for someone with a GED. She previously worked for other Scientologist-owned companies and in a Web posting wrote about "My Success in Scientology.''

"It has given me the opportunity to get an education by the use of the study technology,'' wrote Lance, now 37. "Scientology has enabled me to start a career early and advance up the corporate ladder and earn 4x the amount someone my age normally makes.''

NTC said Lance posted her comments before joining the company. But it acknowledged it has a training center where employees can take courses based on what NTC called the "nonreligious principles'' of WISE — the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises. An arm of the church, WISE brings Hubbard's management "tech" to the business world and attracts new members to Scientology.

NTC's employment applications carry an acknowledgement that the company uses Hubbard's management system. His ideas are everywhere at the company's campus:

• The training center offers Hubbard management courses such as "How to Effectively Handle Work'' and "Formulas for Business Success.''

• Some NTC staffers keep Hubbard's management books on their desks for ready reference. The company also displays WISE "training materials of all kinds and types,'' the NTC statement said. The materials cover topics such as managing by statistics and analyzing trends.

• Workers are paid their regular hourly wages to attend the in-house training sessions, which are made available to Scientologists and non-Scientologists alike. The company said it kept no record of the "varying faiths of our personnel that took these courses.''

None of this puts non-Scientologists at a disadvantage, the company said. "NTC practices equal opportunity employment and does not discriminate against employees on the basis of race, sex, creed, color, national origin or religion.''

NTC estimated that about 85 percent of its 196 employees are non-Scientologists.

Workers' complaints

Over the years, the church's involvement in the business world has sometimes caused confusion and debate, leading to lawsuits in Pinellas and several states that allege the presence of Hubbard's teachings in the workplace violated labor laws. (NTC has not been sued on such grounds.)

While Scientologist-owned companies say they use a secular version of Hubbard's management "tech," the distinction is not always clear to non-Scientology employees, some of whom have reported what they view as workplace discrimination and proselytizing.

In December, WorkNet Pinellas received complaints about NTC and its Scientology ties.

"Be careful about applying for any job at this company,'' one woman wrote. "The turnover is very high for a reason. This conduct must be condoned by Scientology since it has been going on for years.''

A recruiter for WorkNet Pinellas called the company, according to e-mails obtained by the Times through a public records request.

"Of course they swear the company is legit and welcomed me to interview any of their staff,'' the recruiter told WorkNet colleagues in an e-mail. "Still skeptical but not sure what rule I can go by to close the orders (job postings).''

NTC is among hundreds of companies that post job openings on Employ Florida Marketplace, a state-run jobs site. WorkNet decided to leave up the only job NTC had posted at the time, the e-mails show.

Ed Peachey, president of WorkNet Pinellas, wouldn't comment on the complaints. "You're not going to drag WorkNet into any lawsuit,'' he told a reporter.

Since NTC moved to Florida in 2003, Eileen McQuown has sent hundreds of temporary workers there. "I know they are Scientologists,'' said McQuown, owner of Accord Staffing in Palm Harbor.

Most of the temporaries had good experiences, and several took permanent jobs, she said.

But she also heard gripes, especially about the workload: "It was a very high-pressure place, super busy at times.''

Some temporary employees also complained about the presence of Scientology in the workplace, McQuown said, though she said she had no evidence NTC asked them to take Scientology-related courses. But some who became permanent told her they were encouraged to pursue study programs.

"I heard from people that in order to move up in the company you had to take their classes," McQuown said. She also noted she has heard the opposite from other former temps who were hired on and haven't taken the courses.

McQuown said she never took any of the complaints to NTC management.

At Select Staffing, a competing temp service, area manager Tommy Tsaousis said he had only good experiences placing temporaries at Nationwide and would be eager to work with the company again.

"If there is a newsworthy story relating to NTC,'' the company said in its statements to the Times, "it should focus on the quality services and ethical practices of NTC … not the religious beliefs of any of its leadership or employees.''

Times researchers Shirl Kennedy and Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Susan Taylor Martin can be contacted at, Joe Childs can be contacted at Thomas C. Tobin can be contacted at

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on January 31, 2011, 03:51:03 PM
                               Who's who in Nationwide Title Clearing

By Susan Taylor Martin, Times Senior Correspondent
In Print: Sunday, January 30, 2011

Who's who in Nationwide Title Clearing

Nationwide Title Clearing, a Palm Harbor company that processes documents for the residential mortgage industry, is owned by members of the Church of Scientology and some of its top managers are Scientologists.

Norm Novitsky: Novitsky started Nationwide Title Clearing in 1992. Now retired, but still listed as an officer, he lives in California, where his BluNile film company is producing a horror movie, Pray for Morning. In October, Novitsky filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy listing $1.63 million in debts, some from soured real estate ventures. He owes $100,000 to the IRS. The Novitskys, along with the families of other Nationwide Title Clearing owners (Hillman, Marsh, Kezsbom, Kugler, and Turbin), collectively donated at least $1 million to Scientology's Super Power building in Clearwater.

Edward E. Marsh III: An owner of Nationwide Title Clearing since its early days, Marsh had a company, Charter Financial, that made loans to several Scientologists in the Clearwater area from 2002 to 2004, public records show. Marsh and his wife, Kathy, live in California.

Alan Turbin: Another longtime owner of Nationwide Title Clearing, Turbin and his wife have a home in Dunedin.

John Hillman and Todd Kugler: Sons-in-law of Ivan Kezsbom, an original owner of NTC, they became officers and directors after Kezsbom died in 2003. They live near each other in a Clearwater subdivision with estate-size lots.

Myron Finley: Finley is an officer and director of NTC. Licensed to practice law in New York and California, Finley had his name on a Clearwater law firm and in 2006 signed a cease-and-desist affidavit agreeing not to practice in Florida. In October, the IRS filed a $217,435 tax lien against Finley for delinquent taxes from 2000 to 2003. He previously had IRS liens totaling $139,777, but had paid them.

Erika Lance: She replaced Myron Finley as NTC's registered agent. She joined NTC in 2004 and is senior vice president for administration. She has declared bankruptcy three times, most recently in 2009 when she listed a salary of nearly $84,000 and debts of $468,846.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 13, 2011, 03:49:06 PM
Former Scientology insiders describe a world of closers, prospects, crushing quotas and coercion

By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers
In Print: Sunday, November 13, 2011

Article.... Video.

About the latest St. Petersburg Times investigative series on Scientology

Times staff
In Print: Sunday, November 13, 2011

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 14, 2011, 10:50:16 AM

The Money Machine

plenty to see here....

             New Investigation Into Scientology Offers Scathing Details

Author: Stephen Alexander
Published: November 13, 2011

Read more:

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 14, 2011, 03:41:17 PM
Pervasive pitch: Scientology book and lecture series, 'The Basics,' unleashes a sales frenzy

By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers
In Print: Monday, November 14, 2011

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 17, 2011, 09:17:39 AM
                                                                          17 th November 2011

A little birdie tells me that Part 3 of the St Pete Times series will be about the IAS. But it doesn't seem to be up on the website yet, which suggests there might have been a change of schedule. Be patient, people. This is good stuff coming.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 20, 2011, 02:39:26 PM
Scientology amped up donation requests to save the Earth starting in 2001

By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers
In Print: Sunday, November 20, 2011


Scientology amped up donation requests to save the Earth starting in 2001 - Synthia!
Documents -

Church of Scientology responds: Parishioners donate 'because they enthusiastically support their chosen faith'

Some Scientologists give until they're bankrupt
All the savings I had -
Church of Scientology runs afoul of widely accepted best practices for fundraising

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 21, 2011, 11:53:15 AM
Giant 'Super Power' building in Clearwater takes a pause, yet millions keep flowing in

By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers
In Print: Monday, November 21, 2011

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 21, 2011, 01:47:30 PM
                    IRS should review Scientology tax-exempt status

In Print: Monday, November 21, 2011

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 21, 2011, 07:20:11 PM
Tax experts: Church's money-raising practices don't appear to threaten tax-exempt status

By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers
In Print: Monday, November 21, 2011

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 26, 2011, 02:41:45 PM
               The OC Couple Who Gave More than $1.3 Million to the Church of Scientology--Only to Leave
By Gustavo Arellano Fri., Nov. 25 2011

Over the past couple of weeks, the St. Petersburg Times has been publishing their latest blockbuster series on the Church of Scientology, that ever-mockable collection of has-been movie stars and good people being driven to donate more and more money just to realize an intergalatic overlord name Xenu is the problem behind it all. Two of those good people are Luis and Rocio Garcia, who gave more than $1.3 million to Scientology since 1982--but left the church last year because they feel the current hierarchy is corrupt beyond belief. Ya think?
The St. Pete profile is here, but Luis penned a fascinating post of his own on the blog of leading Scientology dissenter Marty Rathburn that has a lot of juicy details about how Scientology operates. You should read the entire post, because there is a lot of juicy gossip regarding Scientology's 2006 purchase of a building in downtown SanTana, historically the Masonic Lodge, and restored to its original splendor by evil landlord Mike Harrah before selling it to the Xenu zoo. It's been virtually empty ever since, to the point where the Co$ couldn't even pay their water bill, but Garcia also claims that church volunteers have been forced to sleep in the building every night since 2007 as impromptu security guards, since the area where it stands, as Garcia puts it, "is not precisely Beverly Hills."

Garcia continues to believe in the tenets of Scientology--just not in the Church. Let's hope he reveals more juicy gossip soon...

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on December 03, 2011, 11:01:11 AM
Ruth Eckerd Hall calls off Scientology event to benefit Capitol Theatre

By Drew Harwell, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Friday, December 2, 2011

CLEARWATER — A planned Scientology fundraiser benefiting Ruth Eckerd Hall was abruptly canceled by the venue Thursday after an avalanche of criticism by hall supporters.

But a Scientology spokeswoman said late Thursday the church would still host the Jan. 7 benefit, disregarding the "hate mail" and pledging to still pass along all proceeds.

The benefit, Ruth Eckerd's first ever hosted by Scientology, would raise funds for the renovation of the historic Capitol Theatre downtown near Scientology's spiritual headquarters.

A fundraising drive for the theater, owned by the city but managed by Ruth Eckerd Hall, has been stalled for several years.

Only a day after invitations for the Scientology event went out, a "significant number of negative comments" led hall leaders to reconsider, Ruth Eckerd president and CEO Robert Freedman said Thursday afternoon. He said the benefit at the church's Fort Harrison Hotel, including a show by a Scientologist musician, would not go on.

Scientology's announcement that it would still hold the benefit came Thursday evening.

The hall's cancellation of the event was only the latest example of long-standing local tensions over Scientology, an unavoidable presence downtown that some have blamed for its demise.

But it also raises new questions about just how Ruth Eckerd will jump-start the Capitol Theatre renovation campaign. Renovation of the theater and an active performance schedule there have been identified as central to the city's effort to revitalize downtown.

The benefit, an invitation stated, would have included a buffet reception and an "unforgettable performance" of "Chaplin: A Life in Concert" by David Pomeranz, a singer-songwriter who cut the ribbon for the church's first mission in the Philippines.

Reservations would have cost $50, or $75 for better seats and a dessert with Pomeranz. The church had offered to host and underwrite the event, Freedman said, so all proceeds could benefit the theater.

But only eight hours after the invite was sent to a Ruth Eckerd mailing list, the hall began to do damage control. Freedman responded to complaints with a notice saying Scientology had no "ownership or financial interest" in the theater. The church, he added, would not gain access to the personal information of Ruth Eckerd Hall members.

One response came from John Tischner, a Dunedin retiree and Ruth Eckerd supporter who attended a Frank Sinatra tribute at the hall on Sunday and who has tickets to two more shows this winter. He said he couldn't understand why the popular venue would align with an organization surrounded by so much controversy.

"It's blowing their reputation," Tischner told the Times. "I told them, 'I might be reluctant to support you in the future because of this.' "

Clearwater's biggest venue — Ruth Eckerd — and its most visible downtown entity — Scientology — have done business before. In 2007, a crowd of Scientologists, including Tom Cruise and John Travolta, filled Ruth Eckerd for the grand unveiling of "The Basics," a $3,000 volume of digitized scriptures.

But taking financial help from the church, long accused of strong-arm marketing tactics, would represent an unprecedented step for hall leaders struggling to fund restoration of the Capitol, one of Florida's oldest theaters.

When Clearwater bought the Capitol in 2008, Ruth Eckerd pledged to raise $3 million for renovations and $5 million for an endowment fund. Though leaders said that goal would take two years to meet, the campaign remains stuck in stasis.

"Fundraising has been practically nonexistent," said Bill Sturtevant, chairman of the Clearwater Downtown Partnership. "Maybe it's a sign of the times. ... I just don't think it has gone very well."

Katie Pedretty, a Ruth Eckerd spokeswoman, said the canceled benefit would not "have any effect whatsoever" on fundraising.

Freedman will retire at the end of this month after 13 years at Ruth Eckerd, ceding the reins to veteran promoter Zev Buffman.

In applying for the job, Buffman said the Capitol Theatre's renovation was a top priority, and that he wanted "to be part of the growth of downtown."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 445-4170 or

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on January 03, 2012, 08:43:22 AM
                      In new year's message, Scientology insider blasts 'extreme' fundraising

By Thomas C. Tobin and Joe Childs, Times Staff Writers
Posted: Jan 01, 2012 03:58 PM

The new year brought a big surprise for the Church of Scientology: One of its most respected and widely known figures went public in dramatic fashion, calling for internal reforms and decrying heavy-handed fundraising practices she says have allowed the church to amass reserves of more than $1 billion.

With an email blast to thousands of current and former Scientologists late Saturday, Debra J. Cook quickly emerged from a quiet private life in San Antonio, Texas. Her message contained a bombshell of a letter urging parishioners to start pushing back against the church's aggressive money demands.

Cook was a prominent figure in the church's Clearwater operation for 17 years. Her strong reputation within Scientology brings new credibility to a growing movement, now more than two years old, to reform the church.

She declared that Scientology staffers are pressured by church managers to engage in "extreme" fundraising campaigns for unnecessarily "posh" new buildings and to enrich the church's membership group, the International Association of Scientologists, known as the IAS.

She said the church is hoarding "well in excess of a billion dollars" in IAS donations, in violation of policies written by church founder L. Ron Hubbard. The money was supposed to be used to disseminate the religion, she said in the letter.

"Only a tiny fraction has ever been spent. ... Only the interest earned from the holdings (has) been used very sparingly to fund projects through grants."

The church did not respond Sunday to requests for comment.

Most of Cook's topics were covered in a recent Tampa Bay Times series, "The Money Machine," in which dozens of church members described coercive selling tactics and deceptive practices used by the church's religious workers.

The members said Scientology workers made unauthorized debits to their internal church accounts and relentlessly pressured them to donate, often blocking them from leaving fundraising events, showing up unannounced at their homes and threatening to slow their spiritual progress if they didn't give.

The series also revealed the scope of the church's money making operations: At least $100 million a year from the Clearwater entity Cook once headed; more than $250 million raised by the IAS just since 2006; and millions more raised annually from book sales and building donations.

Cook said in her letter that the dominance of church leader David Miscavige as the sole source of power in Scientology violates a system of checks and balances put in place by Hubbard before he died in 1986. She said top church executives who could check his authority face "long and harsh" discipline programs and have been absent from their posts for years.

Cook, 50, was the face of Scientology's worldwide spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, known as "Flag." As Flag's "captain" from 1989 to 2006, she acted as the church's local CEO but also was known and respected throughout Scientology. She was the top Clearwater officer in the Sea Org, Scientology's military-style religious order.

A fixture in Flag's magazine, Source, a smiling, confident Cook was always pictured in her formal blue uniform with an upbeat message for parishioners.

She later moved to the church's international management ranks in California, but left the staff in 2008. Cook and her husband, Wayne Baumgarten, also a former church staffer, run a San Antonio-based business consulting firm specializing in Internet marketing, web design, social media, financial planning and other areas.

Cook's pronouncement is a rarity in a church that works hard to keep its secrets and controls former staff long after they leave. While some former church executives have spoken out after defecting, Cook wrote her letter while still a full-fledged insider.

She has stayed in regular contact with practicing Scientologists since her departure from the staff, according to her Facebook page and company website Many are her customers.

She said in her letter she has remained in good standing with the church and was writing fellow Scientologists as someone who remains "completely dedicated" to Scientology and Hubbard.

"However," she added, "there is no question that this new age of continuous fundraising is not our finest moment."

Cook's status in Scientology is sure to change. Typically the church views open criticism as a "suppressive" act and moves to banish violators from church activities while quickly cutting their business and personal ties with practicing members.

Cook could not be reached Sunday for an interview, having emphasized in her letter that she was appealing directly to fellow Scientologists. She told them she did not want to involve the media.

The letter promises to send shock waves through the community of Scientologists loyal to the church after more than two years of unflattering media reports about church management — from allegations of violence in the top ranks to repeated stories about the church's controlling nature.

Other high-ranking figures have left in recent years and spoken out. Most notable were Mike Rinder, the former church spokesman, and Marty Rathbun, a top executive who worked for years at Miscavige's side.

But Cook was far better known among average parishioners and she enjoyed an impeccable image, linked as she was to the church's desire to make Flag an upscale and spiritually uplifting destination for all Scientologists.

Some of her Scientologist friends reacted positively on her Facebook page. Others reacted angrily, saying the online discussion was unseemly and should be handled quietly within the church. Still others said they didn't believe it, insisting Cook's Facebook and email accounts had been hacked by church critics.

As the debate simmered on Sunday, Cook pulled the discussion thread from her Facebook page. She also posted this message to the page: "Dear Friends. Yes, the e-mail was written by me. No I am not connected to anyone not in good standing. I did it because of my love and respect for LRH (L. Ron Hubbard) and the desire to see us correct situations that need correcting within our group."

Cook referred in her letter to the church's recent publicity troubles, saying Scientologists had weathered many storms. "I am sorry that I am the one telling you, but a new storm is upon us. Its waves are already in the media and the world around us."

She encouraged parishioners to make their voices heard by paying only for Scientology's religious services and challenging church staffers who press for extra donations to show where their request is supported in Hubbard's writings.

She cited several Hubbard writings that she said conflicted with the church's current fundraising practices. She said the heavy emphasis on meeting fundraising quotas was a distraction for the church and that dedicated staffers have been dragged into the task.

Rathbun, now a leading figure in a movement for Scientologists to practice independently of the church, said the impact of Cook's letter would be huge, but it would take time for Scientologists to accept and absorb it.

"Over the next few weeks and months, you're going to see a lot of prominent Scientologists who are going to make themselves known," he said in an interview. "This could be one of the more significant developments in some time."

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on February 01, 2012, 03:25:41 PM
Scientology's First Amendment rights and wrongs

In Print: Wednesday, February 1, 2012

                             Tampa Bay Times.  (New name of St Petersburg times)

The Church of Scientology relies heavily on First Amendment religious freedoms to shield itself from scrutiny in this country, but it is awfully quick to suppress freedom of speech that enjoys the same constitutional protections. The same church that raises the specter of Nazi oppression whenever it faces inquiry from German and French officials, expects its former, hardworking employees in the United States to sign away their free speech rights for as little as $500 in severance. The First Amendment is not a buffet where some rights are recognized and other inconvenient ones are ignored.

The hypocrisy is clear in the church's latest retaliation against a former employee who dared to speak out even as she attempted to provoke reforms from within. Debbie Cook, the church's former longtime leader in Clearwater, is now facing a lawsuit in Texas for allegedly violating her 2007 severance agreement. On New Year's Eve, her letter urging Scientologists to work internally to reform the church's aggressive fundraising tactics and other practices reached thousands of church members via email and became widely publicized, including in the Tampa Bay Times.

But Cook and her husband, in order to receive $50,000 each in severance, had signed a nondisclosure clause — apparently a standard operating procedure for the church. Cook had been a Sea Org employee for 29 years, 17 of which were as the top Clearwater official where she presided over an operation that brought in more than $100 million annually for the organization. Several former church members told the Tampa Bay Times' Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin that severances of $500 to $5,000 were more common but also frequently required nondisclosure agreements.

Previous Times stories have detailed how Sea Org members have extraordinary work schedules for little pay and how the church's fundraising tactics have included encouraging church members to borrow thousands of dollars, hit the limit on their credit cards and mortgage their homes to pay for church texts or courses. Yet First Amendment religious protections have blocked serious, formal scrutiny. Just two years ago, the church escaped allegations it violated labor laws and engaged in human trafficking and forced abortions when a federal judge dismissed two lawsuits by former Sea Org workers, saying the suits would violate the First Amendment's guarantee of free exercise of religion. And the church also benefits from tax-exempt status, another manifestation of the First Amendment's religious protection.

The lengths the church goes to protect its secrecy is remarkable. Cook and her husband had an additional clause in their agreement with the church that they could be liable for at least $100,000 for each disparaging Internet posting, television broadcast or newspaper article. If this case moves forward, the judge should ensure that all depositions, court filings and court hearings are public. The public should be able to observe how the Church of Scientology seeks to wrap itself in First Amendment protections to avoid scrutiny and strip those protections from members of the church who were seeking to reform it.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on February 27, 2012, 11:17:20 AM
    Front page today      (St Petersburg Times is now called Tampa Bay Times.)

               Controversy over Scientology influence clouds future of Pinellas charter school

By Drew Harwell, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Sunday, February 26, 2012

          Charter school could be forced to close after 'promoting Scientology to students'

By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 6:50 AM on 27th February 2012

Read more:


Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on February 28, 2012, 11:36:04 AM
                FEBRUARY 27, 2012

              Florida education news: Scientology charter school, FCAT , graduation rates and more

             Plenty to see here...

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on February 29, 2012, 07:10:34 PM
            Pinellas school district officials sour on new charter for Scientology-affliated Life Force school

By Drew Harwell, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Wednesday, February 29, 2012

DUNEDIN — Pinellas County School District officials on Tuesday delivered a blow to a charter school tied to Scientology, recommending the School Board vote against a proposal that could keep the school open through 2016.

Life Force Arts and Technology Academy leaders asked the district last month to amend the embattled school's charter to provide for a fresh start.

But amid concerns that the tax-supported elementary school uses "study technology," a Scientology teaching method criticized as a covert recruiting tool, superintendent John Stewart recommended the School Board reject the charter amendments at its meeting March 6.

Rejection would not close the school or cancel its charter, which was approved in 2008 and expires in June 2013. But it could set the stage for future sanctions and prove disastrous in bankruptcy court, where a judge is considering the school's Chapter 11 reorganization.

Overseen by proponents of Scientology and members of the black supremacist group Nation of Islam, Life Force's focus on "study tech," a methodology devised by Scientology's late founder L. Ron Hubbard, worried parents and former teachers. Their frustrations over school mismanagement and secrecy were reported in Sunday's Tampa Bay Times.

On Tuesday, Stewart released a memo and an appended evaluation that reiterated many of those concerns, criticizing everything from a top-heavy administration reluctant to meet educational standards to a school staff made "unstable" by faculty firings and resignations.

Louis Muhammad, who chairs the school's board of directors, said he did not want to comment. Hanan Islam, whose private company, Art of Management, runs the school, did not return messages late Tuesday.

Run by their own boards of directors, charter schools receive public tax funding based on enrollment. They are monitored by the school district but freed of some requirements of regular public schools, allowing them to offer unconventional curricula.

With nearly all of its 100 students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals, Life Force received extra funding through federal grants. Last year, audits show, the school earned more than $800,000 in public funds, a per-student rate higher than the state and county average for all schools.

Life Force's proposed 209-page amendment is, in effect, a new charter, establishing a new budget, curriculum, leadership structure and name: the SMART Academy.

But Stewart's memo and the staff evaluation suggested the amendment faced insurmountable odds:

• The school's new curriculum would be provided by Bright Sky Learning, a for-profit company founded by Scientologists, and would not meet state standards.

• Its new budget would be based on "unrealistic enrollment projections," and would depend too much on "large donations."

• The amendment-proposed classes would be newly refocused on physical education, art, music and technology, while not budgeting for teachers to cover those subjects.

• The school would claim no responsibility for busing, instead relying on parents to contract with a local bus company.

• Teachers would be "paid substitute wages" and would not be given contracts. Meanwhile, the school's administration would include a management company, a principal, and directors of operations, administrative affairs, academics and public contact.

• Parents who didn't meet the school's requirements for volunteering could find their children expelled — a practice officials said was unheard-of in other Pinellas charters.

District officials said some concerns about the requested amendment stemmed from the school's past issues. The school's proposed punishment system, according to the amendment, would include disciplinary "service projects." In December, Islam defended a school punishment — forcing young boys to scrub a bathroom — as a way to build self-esteem.

Officials also questioned the oversight of the school's board of directors in ensuring the amended charter was upheld. Like Islam, most board members have yet to give their fingerprints for background screenings mandated by the state's Jessica Lunsford Act.

The board has also experienced regular turnover, officials wrote. New board members listed in the amendment proposal include Fatima Talbird, who has taken Scientology courses and been photographed with Scientology spokeswoman Pat Harney and Nation of Islam minister Tony Muhammad, and Bahiyyah Sadiki, a Clearwater tutor promoted by a study tech group called Applied Scholastics.

Nowhere in Life Force's proposed amendment do the school's administrators make mention of study tech or Scientology. A student reading list includes 17 notable authors but not Hubbard, whose writings, former teachers said, formed the base of all instruction at Life Force.

Toccara Hobbs, whose daughter has attended Life Force since it opened in 2009, said she was shocked by former teachers' revelations of the school's inner workings detailed in the Times.

She would like to remove her third-grade daughter from the school, but she worries it would disrupt her schooling as FCAT tests loom.

"If I would have known all this was going on, I would have never put her in Life Force," Hobbs said. "You're putting all your trust in these people."

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on March 01, 2012, 07:07:27 AM
                  Pinellas school superintendent wants Scientology-tied charter school closed

By Drew Harwell, Times Staff Writer
Posted: Feb 29, 2012 12:56 PM

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on March 05, 2012, 02:33:22 PM
                      Charter school dangers on display in Scientology case

In Print: Monday, March 5, 2012

The Life Force Arts and Technology Academy in Dunedin, a charter elementary school serving low-income children, has sold area parents a bill of goods. It promised an enriching arts and technology program and delivered a school stripped of resources by its management company and laden with Church of Scientology teaching methodology. The school's actions raise serious questions about fiscal control and church-state separation. Pinellas County schools superintendent John Stewart is right to recommend to the School Board that it be shut down as soon as possible.

Almost since it opened in 2009, Life Force has been riddled with problems. Its first principal was fired, charged with stealing from a family trust. By last summer the school had debts of more than $400,000. Facing possible closure by the school district, which oversees the county's charter schools, the Life Force board enlisted Hanan Islam's Art of Management company to overhaul the school. The school also filed for bankruptcy, giving it protection from the district terminating its charter school contract.

As reported by Tampa Bay Times staff writer Drew Harwell, since Islam came to Life Force some parents and former teachers charge that the school's children have been targets for recruitment by the Church of Scientology. The student body of about 95 students was taught using the "study technology" of Scientology's late founder, L. Ron Hubbard, according to former teachers. The school's children attended a Christmas party at a Scientology church in Tampa's Ybor Square, where they were given Scientology books and DVDs. And another endeavor of Islam's was as executive director of the World Literacy Crusade, a California organization that promotes Scientology education methods.

All of this exposure to Scientology-related material violates prohibitions in the U.S. and Florida constitutions on religion in public schools. The school may claim that the material is secular in nature, but since Scientology insists it is a religion, anything produced by it or by Hubbard should be considered religious. The church may freely open its own private schools, but it cannot infiltrate public schools like charter schools or have its teachings influence the curriculum. Life Force receives about $800,000 in taxpayer support per year.

In addition to the church-state problems, Islam's management is highly suspect. She generously rewarded her company even as the school was foundering. Islam's management company was paid more than $56,000 for the three months following the school's bankruptcy filing, which is nearly double what Islam told the courts she would charge. Meanwhile the school stopped paying for bus service, teachers couldn't get classroom supplies or get paid on time, and the school's academic performance failed to meet many of its self-written goals.

The debacle at Life Force points up the dangers of charter schools. The freedom given these privately run schools using public money can be easily abused in the wrong hands. On Tuesday, the Pinellas School Board should give Life Force its 90-day notice of termination as Stewart recommends. The sooner this school is shut down and Islam is given her walking papers, the better.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on March 07, 2012, 07:17:28 AM
                      School Board approves notice of termination for Life Force charter school

By Drew Harwell, Times Staff Writer
Posted: Mar 06, 2012

LARGO — The clock is ticking for the Life Force Arts and Technology Academy after the Pinellas County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to issue the charter school a 90-day notice of termination.

The school, which parents and former teachers said has instituted a study methodology embraced by the Church of Scientology, was criticized by superintendent John Stewart as changing its curriculum "without permission," among a host of other concerns.

Board member Linda Lerner said there was "overwhelming evidence to terminate" the Dunedin elementary school's charter.

Acting on Stewart's recommendation, the board also voted to deny a proposed amendment that would have extended the school's charter for three years and granted sweeping changes to its budget, curriculum and leadership structure.

The school's 90-day notice means class could likely remain in session for the rest of the school year. The school's leaders now have the right to request a public hearing to defend the charter.

The school board will need to vote again before terminating the charter. School board attorneys will also need to receive permission from a bankruptcy judge to close the school, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July and was granted court protection during its reorganization.

The school board has never terminated a charter in the 15-year history of Pinellas charter schools, which receive tax funding but are operated by their own independent boards of directors.

The Tampa Bay Times reported last month that Life Force administrators compelled students to learn "study technology," a methodology devised by the Church of Scientology's late founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

Students at the public charter school were also taken on a field trip to a Scientology church in Ybor City, and more than $30,000 in school funds were given to the World Literacy Crusade, a group that promotes Hubbard's "study tech."

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on March 25, 2012, 12:09:11 PM
                  Parents and teachers blast Life Force Arts and Technology Academy management

By Drew Harwell, Times Staff Writer
Posted: Mar 24, 2012 06:43 PM

DUNEDIN — Parents and teachers at the Life Force Arts and Technology Academy shouted down charter school leaders on Saturday for deceit and mismanagement they say has led to the school's demise.

A dozen parents and faculty members, including the principal, slammed the school's former management company at a board of directors' meeting. They alleged questionable spending, suspect leadership and the sly introduction of Scientology study methods.

The furious group won a small victory Saturday when board members voted to keep the school open until June, when the Pinellas County school district's 90-day notice of termination comes due.

But the school that Art of Management leader Hanan Islam pledged she would rescue from bankruptcy remains troubled and deeply in dept. Parents worry the school's dramatic last days and their children's sudden move could cause their education to suffer.

Steve Hayes, a longtime Scientology attorney representing the school's board, told the group the school's Chapter 11 bankruptcy is set to end early next month. Without that protection, creditors could aggressively seek repayment of $400,000 in debt. At a meeting Friday, Hayes and school district leaders said they would seek the board's approval to close the school April 6.

But the closure would have sent Life Force's 60 remaining students scrambling to new classrooms with only two weeks' notice, and just 10 days before the crucial first day of FCAT testing. Shari Encke, a recently hired exceptional-student-education teacher, said that was "like guaranteeing their failure."

Teachers and volunteers said their devotion to the children trumped their desire for pay. Board chairman Louis Muhammad and members Annie Tyrell and Fatima Talbird voted unanimously to keep the school open.

Class will stay in session without Islam, the executive director of the Scientology-tied World Literacy Crusade, who ended her management of Life Force earlier this month.

Muhammad said Islam felt the school would be treated unfairly if she stayed involved. But faculty of the school, pointing to its March budget, said her company left a day after receiving its last payment of nearly $7,000.

"Light was shone on their mismanagement," said Nikki Mathis, a mother of three Life Force students, "and now they're throwing us under the bus."

Perhaps the strongest criticism of Islam's management came in a letter from principal Lenor Johnson, who wrote that decisions by school leaders "were made solely for the personal gain of outside interests."

Islam demanded hundreds of books on "study technology," a methodology devised by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, be purchased from the Church of Scientology at the school's expense, Johnson wrote. A rewrite of the school's charter led by Islam cost $18,000, and failed. Her company hired unqualified employees, implemented unapproved techniques in the classroom, held secret meetings with teachers and even pressured faculty to write letters supporting her company's management.

"The education of our young children (was) compromised for personal gain, greed and the need to control others," Johnson wrote. "The re-opening of our school was nothing more than a business venture."

Teachers also slammed Muhammad, a Nation of Islam minister, alleging he served as a mouthpiece of Hanan Islam. Muhammad said he was hired by Islam in July as a "public relations consultant" but fired in October after he pushed a boy on the school bus. The boy was uninjured, and Muhammad said it was a light shove to bring the unruly boy in line. Hanan Islam appointed him to be board chairman in January.

Quanshawna Perry, whose son, Quante, was the child pushed, lashed out. "How can you end up on the board when you put your hands on a child?"

The two-hour shouting match in the school cafeteria, painted with murals of rainbows and clouds, ended with volunteers pushing to find sources of funding, faculty vowing to keep class in session, and parents confused over where their children would go next.

Parents said there was no confusion, though, over who was to blame for the school's impending closure.

"Y'all don't know what we've got on you," Konica Ritchie, a mother of two Life Force students who also helps with school lunches, told Muhammad. "You've messed with the wrong parents."

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 445-4170 or Send letters to the editor at

Or here...

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on April 06, 2012, 02:56:39 PM
                      Life Force teachers, principal struggle to figure out charter school's finances

By Drew Harwell, Times Staff Writer
Posted: Apr 05, 2012

DUNEDIN — After the Life Force Arts and Technology Academy's embattled director of operations said she was leaving for a new job, principal Lenor Johnson discovered a problem: Passwords to the charter school's bank accounts had been changed and she couldn't access them.

Johnson had asked Vikki Williams, the outgoing operations director, for help learning the books. But when they sat down together, Williams couldn't explain why the accounts and the school's QuickBooks accounting software suddenly couldn't be accessed.

"Huh. Someone changed the password," Johnson recalled Williams saying. "At that point, I knew it was a game."

That hasn't been the only surprise in the last few weeks at Life Force, a publicly funded charter elementary school teachers say was overrun by Scientology influence.

School leaders and parents say the school's books have turned to smoke and mirrors, leaving them powerless to plan a budget or hold the school's former leaders accountable. And Life Force's bankruptcy protection likely will end this month, allowing creditors to move in and seek payment.

Hanan Islam, the school's former manager and an executive director of the Scientology-tied World Literacy Crusade, quit last month. But teachers say her appointees have retained a tight grip on the school's money and operations.

"We have people who are doing a real good job of confusing everybody," said principal Johnson, speaking to the Tampa Bay Times for the first time this week. "I really have no one to help me with this school. Everybody that could help me is working for Hanan."

The only remaining member of the school's governing board, Hanan Islam appointee Louis Muhammad, now has sole power to approve budgets for the approximately $50,000 in public funding the school receives each month.

Clearwater attorney Steven L. Hayes, who Muhammad asked to represent the governing board, said new members will be added to the board soon. Hayes also is looking for a new accountant to map out spending until the last day of school June 10, saying the school "will have to operate very close to the vest."

Parents and teachers are questioning some of the line items they have found in budgets created by Williams before she resigned. For example, the school has spent or plans to spend nearly $3,000 on a California accountant quietly hired by Islam. The accountant has never been seen at the school and is referred to only as "Pauline" in the budget. No one's sure if she was given access to the school's books.

Another questionable budget line item is $700 for flyers advertising Winter Wonderland, an annual Scientology-sponsored holiday event in downtown Clearwater.

Bankruptcy records also show that Islam's management company, Art of Management, was paid more than $70,000 from school funds between August and January.

"These kids walk around here and don't have water, don't have pencils, don't have crayons," said Konica Ritchie, cafeteria manager and parent of two Life Force students. "How can you be for the kids if you took $70,000, talking about your fees?"

Another concern: Hayes said the school owes nearly $15,000 in payroll taxes. Yet taxes were routinely deducted from teachers' $85-a-day paychecks, leaving them worried that the taxes somehow disappeared.

Not much is known about how money was spent at the school under the administration of Islam and Williams. The Pinellas County school district, responsible under state law for monitoring charter schools, has not received monthly financial statements from Life Force since November, said Dot Clark, the district's coordinator of partnership schools.

The school district has little power over how money is used at the school. But last month, the Pinellas County School Board voted to issue a 90-day notice of termination of the school's charter, meaning it could close this summer at the end of its third school year.

Johnson, who was initially stymied by the mysterious change in account passwords, regained access by visiting the bank and credit union. Johnson said Hayes and Muhammad have agreed to give her about $500 each month for school supplies, but the board — Muhammad — will maintain total control over the other 99 percent of the school's monthly state and federal funding.

Hired by Islam in July as a "public relations consultant," Muhammad was fired three months later after pushing a boy on the school bus. Islam appointed him chairman of the board in January. Other members of the board have since resigned.

Board attorney Hayes made headlines in 1996 when he bought out the assets of the Cult Awareness Network, an anti-Scientology hotline bankrupted after a barrage of lawsuits. Hayes said he was asked to represent the board by Muhammad, who he had "known from before," though he would not say how. He said he is not charging for his work.

Williams and Islam did not return phone and e-mail messages Thursday. Muhammad said he would not answer questions, saying, "The school is closing. Just leave it alone."

The school now has 58 students, about half of its peak enrollment. Johnson said she is trying to lighten the mood by planning student field trips. Teachers are leading clubs for art, dance, drama and gardening.

"They're my motivation — to see them coming to work every day," Johnson said. "We're not going to let this get us down."

As for Islam, emails show she continued to give orders in the weeks after her management of the school ended. Life Force teacher Lynne Kittredge said Islam recently told her of her next big venture: opening a new private school in south St. Petersburg.

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 445-4170 or Send letters to the editor at

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on April 08, 2012, 09:46:59 AM
                                Students, taxpayers lose in poorly run charter

In Print: Saturday, April 7, 2012

With its finances in disarray and its students at a daily risk of falling behind, the ineptly administered and bankrupt Life Force Arts and Technology Academy charter school in Dunedin has become a community embarrassment that cannot be shut down soon enough. It should serve as a clarion call to Florida lawmakers to tighten up oversight of privately run schools that receive public money.

Parents from Clearwater's low-income North Greenwood neighborhood had enrolled their children in the kindergarten-through-fourth grade school on the promise that students would receive a good education and specialized classes in the arts and computer training. Instead, students were subjected to a curriculum with ties to the Church of Scientology, while administrators apparently padded their pockets and doled out sweetheart contracts to cronies.

As the Tampa Bay Times' Drew Harwell reported, while classrooms lacked basic supplies, recently sacked school manager Hanan Islam paid her own management company $70,000 between August 2011 and January of this year. Islam also spent nearly $3,000 on a mystery California accountant only known as "Pauline," who has never been seen at the school. And $30,000 of the school's $800,000 in public money was spent with Islam's World Literacy Crusade, a group that promotes Scientology's "study tech."

Though the school routinely deducted payroll taxes from its employees, Life Force is in arrears on its tax obligations by nearly $15,000. Law enforcement officials should be asking what happened to the money.

More recently, school principal Lenor Johnson discovered that computer passwords she needed in order to access the school's banking and financial records had mysteriously been changed.

The Pinellas County School Board, exercising the limited oversight granted by the Legislature, voted last month to terminate the charter school effective this summer. Good riddance. But the opportunities lost for the school's 58 remaining students won't be so easily rectified.

Legislative supporters of school choice expound on the ability of the charter movement to offer alternatives for public school students. But they also need to take responsibility and reform a system that allows bad actors to gain access to public funds with little immediate accountability. Taxpayers lose, but mostly students do.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on May 26, 2012, 03:29:21 PM
                     FCAT scores at Pinellas charter school that used Scientology 'study tech' are among lowest in Tampa Bay

DUNEDIN — When Hanan Islam and her management company took control of the struggling Life Force Arts and Technology charter school here last summer, she passed out lesson plans based on the work of Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

She said Hubbard's "study technology" would enlighten children and help save the school.

But grades from Florida's standardized FCAT test released Thursday show that, in one year under Islam's management, Life Force students' education suffered......

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on August 16, 2012, 05:15:12 PM
                  Deaths at Scientology drug treatment program Narconon bring investigation

By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers

In Print: Thursday, August 16, 20

Already shaken by a series of high-level defections, accounts of abuse among its staffers, and the high-profile breakup of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, the Church of Scientology now faces scrutiny over its controversial drug treatment program, Narconon.

Four deaths at Narconon's signature treatment facility in eastern Oklahoma have prompted local law enforcement and health officials to investigate the center and its program.

The inquiry began after Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, was found dead in her room on July 19 after returning to the facility from a one-day leave. The cause of death is under investigation.

Two other clients died within the previous nine months. Another died in 2009. In two of those cases, serious health issues were cited; the cause of the other death is unclear.

In April, authorities in Quebec shut down a Narconon facility in the city of Trois Rivieres, saying certain treatment procedures "may represent a health risk.''

Church of Scientology public affairs director Karin Pouw said there is no suggestion the two investigations "have anything to do with Narconon's methods of drug rehabilitation.''

She said media have misrepresented facts about the Oklahoma investigation, but offered no specifics.

As for recent incidents that generated unfavorable publicity for Scientology, Pouw said: "There is no relationship to any of these things, other than the continued growth of the Church and its social and humanitarian programs.''

Narconon centers claim success rates of 75 to 90 percent. But their methods, developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, have drawn fire over the years. They include high doses of niacin and lengthy sauna sessions that are said to release stored drug residues from fat tissue — a Hubbard theory contested by many health professionals.

The Narconon network of treatment centers is part of a Church of Scientology "sector" called the Association for Better Living and Education, or ABLE. It supports and coordinates the church's "social betterment" causes, such as combating drug use, advancing human rights and improving literacy.

When Cruise, Scientology's most famous parishioner, said in a 2006 video that Scientologists were "the authorities" on drug treatment, he was talking about Narconon. Parishioners are pressed hard to donate.

Now, an unflattering focus on Narconon poses a potential new threat to Scientology's image, which has suffered since defectors began speaking out in 2009 about staffer abuses and overly aggressive fundraising, allegations the church has denied.

Narconon's umbrella organization, Narconon International, was founded in 1970 to guide Narconon centers around the world. The nonprofit centers pay Narconon International 10 percent of their revenues, according to documents the church gave the IRS in 1993.

Although the church does not file IRS returns, its nonreligious, nonprofit affiliates report income and expenses. Narconon International said in its most recent filing it took in $5.6 million in 2010. The organization said it had 53 residential programs across the world and that more than 2,800 people graduated from the centers that year. An "outcome monitoring" effort found 75 percent of those clients were free of drugs in the year after they left.

Three Narconon centers are in Florida — an outpatient center in Clearwater and residential facilities in Spring Hill and Destin. The facilities are licensed by the Department of Children and Families. Recent inspection results were not immediately available for the Clearwater and Spring Hill centers. Inspectors have given the Destin facility consistently high performance ratings since 2010.

The Oklahoma facility, known as Narconon Arrowhead, is on Eufaula Lake in Pittsburg County, about 90 miles south of Tulsa. It can treat as many as 150 to 200 clients.

The center took in $8.6 million in 2010 and spent $7.9 million on operating expenses and drug awareness efforts, according to IRS filings. It reported helping 529 people with drug rehabilitation services and "life skills courses.''

Pittsburg Assistant District Attorney Richard Hull said the Sheriff's Office and state Mental Health and Substance Abuse officials are conducting separate investigations. They are awaiting autopsy findings and toxicology reports in Murphy's death, which are expected by early September.

Health officials will explore whether there are grounds to seek an injunction against Narconon Arrowhead, Hull said. The center is cooperating with the investigations, Hull said.

Officials are also investigating the deaths of 21-year-old Hillary Ann Holten of Carrollton, Texas; 32-year-old Gabriel W. Graves of Owasso, Okla.; and 28-year-old Kaysie Dianne Werninck of St. Augustine.

Holten died on April 11 and Graves on Oct. 26. Holten's autopsy report also has not been completed. Her obituary in the Dallas Morning News said she died of complications from pneumonia and congenital adrenal hyperplasia. The medical examiner could not a find a cause of death for Graves.

Werninck died in March 2009 after she was transferred to a Tulsa hospital. Her parents sued Narconon Arrowhead, alleging it gave her the wrong medication and failed to get her proper care after she developed an upper respiratory infection. The family and the center settled the case last year.

Narconon Arrowhead director Gary Smith did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment. Nor did Narconon International president Clark Carr.

In Quebec, authorities ordered the Narconon in Trois Rivieres to close after inspectors found several newly mandated operational criteria needed corrections. The center was told to move its 32 clients to other Narconon facilities. Most were placed in centers in the United States, the Gazette in Montreal reported.

Pouw said Quebec's changes to its laws mandating medical detoxification have not been adopted by other provinces. Narconon facilities remain open there.

David Love, 60, told the Tampa Bay Times this week he spent 11 months at the Trois-Riveres center, five months as a client and the following six months on staff.

Addicted to painkillers after four back surgeries, he checked himself in on Dec. 1, 2008. The center told clients they should expect a three-month minimum stay, Love said. Cost was $23,000. The center gave Love a discount because he was unemployed, he said.

He started in a "withdrawal unit'' with about seven other new arrivals, he said. The clients paired up, sat facing one another at close distance and practiced making eye contact and other drills requiring them to focus.

After nine days, he began a daily regimen of five-hour sauna treatments and increasing dosages of niacin, which is a form of vitamin B available over the counter. The staff gave him 100 milligrams the first day and upped his dosages 100 milligrams each day thereafter.

On his 26th and final day in the sauna, Love ingested 2,600 milligrams of niacin, he said. The niacin treatments concerned him because he suffers from liver fibrosis, he said.

The sauna treatments were followed by 3½ months of studying Hubbard teachings familiar to all Scientologists. He said he knew from the start he was in a Scientology environment, but no one pressured him to join the church.

He took a job on the center's staff after "graduating'' from the treatment program. He started as a course room supervisor, paid less than minimum wage until he protested, he said. He quit on Nov. 3, 2009, after arguing with supervisors that the center's advertised 70 percent success rate was inflated, he said.

Pouw said Love is an extremist who has been trying to generate negative coverage of Narconon. Describing Love as "an anti-Scientologist,'' she said "any statements by him are undoubtedly false.''

Joe Childs can be reached at Thomas C. Tobin can be reached at Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on September 20, 2012, 07:13:48 AM
                     Review: Paul Thomas Anderson's 'The Master' unpredictable, triumphant

By Steve Persall, Times Movie Critic
In Print: Thursday, September 20, 2012

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on September 20, 2012, 06:39:07 PM
Paul Thomas Anderson's 'The Master' is infused with many references to Church of Scientology

By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers
In Print: Thursday, September 20, 2012

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on September 22, 2012, 04:41:17 PM
      Church of Scientology paid two private investigators millions to trail David Miscavige's rival, lawsuit claims

By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers
In Print: Saturday, September 22, 2012
   Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige ordered surveillance on one of his former church rivals in a secret operation that lasted 25 years and ate up millions in church funds, a Texas lawsuit alleges.

The two private investigators who filed the suit say the church hired them to conduct intensive surveillance on Pat Broeker, a church leader who worked closely with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in the 1970s and '80s. Broeker was ousted by Miscavige in a power struggle after Hubbard's 1986 death.

Paul Marrick and Greg Arnold allege that five years into the "Broeker Operation" the church agreed to employ them permanently but stopped making payments early this year. The two are seeking damages, alleging the church made false representations and breached its agreement with them.....

Wow !!!  This is BIG !!!!



Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on January 14, 2013, 06:30:04 PM
                            FBI Scientology investigation gets a fresh witness, but hits a legal roadblock

By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times staff writers
In Print: Monday, January 14, 2013

                      FBI interviews former Scientology members

In Print: Monday, January 14, 2013

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on January 24, 2013, 07:37:28 AM
                          Couple's lawsuit accuses Church of Scientology of fraud, deception

By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers
Posted: Jan 23, 2013

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on February 09, 2013, 05:31:29 PM
                              Niece of Scientology leader describes rocky youth in church

By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers
In Print: Saturday, February 9, 2013

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on April 04, 2013, 01:20:20 PM
                       Spring Hill drug rehab center will have to go through county to expand, judge rules

Wednesday, April 3, 2013                  Tampa Bay Times

BROOKSVILLE — A federal judge has denied a request by the operator of a Spring Hill drug rehabilitation center to force Hernando County to give the center a permit to expand.

With the denial, U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore closed the case filed against the county in 2011 by Toucan Partners LLC, the owner of the property, and Narconon Spring Hill Inc., the operator of the program.

Suncoast Rehabilitation Center on Cessna Drive in Spring Hill announced a month ago plans to expand from 27 to 60 beds. According to a news release, a larger facility would help meet the increased demand for services under the federal Affordable Care Act.

With the judge's ruling, the owner of the center will have to go back through the county Planning and Zoning Commission to argue for the expansion. No application for a special use permit has been received by the county, said Ron Pianta, assistant administrator for planning and development.

Toucan Partners sought to expand from 22 to 54 beds in 2009. But residents surrounding the 3-acre parcel were adamant that a drug rehab center was not compatible with their neighborhood.

The Planning and Zoning Commission approved the permit, but it was overturned several weeks later by the County Commission. Undaunted, the center sued the county first in circuit court, then in federal court.

Earlier this year, a jury found Hernando County guilty of intentional discrimination against Narconon under the federal Fair Housing Act.

Other counts of the federal suit were settled in the county's favor, and, while Toucan Partners and Narconon sought $6.24 million in damages, the jury awarded just $74,000 and attorney's fees to Narconon. The jury awarded nothing to Toucan Partners.

The amount of attorney's fees has not yet been determined.

After the verdict, Narconon filed a motion for an injunction to force the county to approve the permit allowing the expansion.

But the judge decided that "Narconon has not demonstrated a substantial likelihood that the county will continue to act in a discriminatory manner."

The judge also noted that it was Narconon, which won a portion of what it sought in the lawsuit, seeking the injunction; it had been the property owner — Toucan Partners — that had sought the original permit, and Toucan lost its claims in the lawsuit.

Narconon's attorney, Ethan Loeb, did not return a call or an email seeking comment on the outcome.

Narconon is a drug rehabilitation program based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology, and is financially supported by Scientologists.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at or (352) 848-1434.

Spring Hill drug rehab center will have to go through county to expand, judge rules 04/03/13

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on April 18, 2013, 12:00:06 PM
                                           Suvoy releases Scientology Girl video
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - Indian Rocks Beach based singer/songwriter Jimmy Suvoy has released a new video for his song, “Scientology Girl.”

The song details his infatuation… uh, fetish… well it’s really an obsession for women who wear white long sleeve button down shirts and khaki pants.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on April 24, 2013, 10:25:55 AM
                                           Scientologist heads Clearwater board

CLEARWATER -- This city’s Community Development Board is a panel of seven volunteers who review the plans of real estate developers. It has long been a training ground for future City Council members. The board’s longtime chairman, Nick Fritsch, recently stepped down when his most recent term ended.

Time to pick a new chairperson. The job is important, but it’s also a huge pain. The chairperson constantly has to explain the board’s highly technical and legalistic rules to normal citizens who are furious that somebody is trying to build something big right next to their property.

At a meeting last week, vice chairman Thomas Coates asked for nominations.

“Thomas Coates,” somebody said.

“Are there any other nominations?” Coates asked.

Absolute silence.

“Oh, dear,” Coates said in his distinguished South African accent, prompting a round of laughter. “Can I vote against myself?”

After a unanimous vote, he added, “You guys are stuck with me.”

Coates – an architect, publisher and design consultant – is respected by his peers on the board for his thoughtful questions and comments. He also appears to be the first member of the Church of Scientology to head a Clearwater city board.

Frank Dame, executive vice president of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, was nominated to be the development board’s vice chairman.

This vote was a nearly unanimous round of “Ayes.”

“Anyone against?” Coates asked the board.

“Nay,” said Dame, prompting more laughter.

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 11:29am]

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on September 27, 2013, 09:04:08 AM
                                     Scientologists buy chunk of Clearwater's 'super block' dream

CLEARWATER— The Church of Scientology has bought a big chunk of downtown Clearwater's so-called "super block," a highly visible stretch near the waterfront that was long touted by city leaders and various developers as key to revitalizing downtown.

For years, plans conjuring visions of swanky offices, boutique hotels, destination restaurants and luxury condos came and went.

More recently, leaders of the nonprofit Clearwater Marine Aquarium considered the "super block" as a site for their proposed $160.5 million aquarium, but they decided the real estate was too important to take off the tax rolls. Even so, last month aquarium and city officials briefly eyed a portion of the "super block" for an aquarium parking garage....

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on March 03, 2014, 06:54:33 AM
                                                   Ruth: George Cretekos and the Stepford Scientologists (w/video)

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on March 07, 2014, 03:06:26 PM
                                        Clearwater and Scientology wrangle over parking for new aquarium

CLEARWATER — As the Clearwater Marine Aquarium unveils a long-awaited study on the feasibility of a new downtown aquarium today, a plan for a parking garage for the anticipated rush of visitors is taking shape.

The aquarium and the city had wanted to build a garage on a site on the northern edge of the downtown core. But last fall, the Church of Scientology paid $3 million to purchase that site.

After voters approved a plan in November to allow the city to lease waterfront land to the aquarium, city officials began talking with the church about a possible land swap so it could get back the parking site it wanted.

But last week, the church told the city that it was keeping the property.

"We have always been, from our perspective, supportive in helping the church achieve its goals for its institutional uses. I'm a little disappointed they weren't willing to help us," said City Manager Bill Horne.

As a result, the city isn't going to rush to swap any city-owned property that could help the church cobble together enough land for a new church concert hall.

"It's not our focus. It's not a priority for us right now," Horne said......

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on March 15, 2014, 03:59:32 PM
                                          Scientology clergy force a mother to choose: son or daughter (with video)

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on March 16, 2014, 09:28:33 AM
                                  Disconnection, according to the Church of Scientology

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on March 22, 2014, 04:32:12 PM
                                     Scientology's leader reaches out to mend fences with Clearwater

                                     Ruth: A so-called religion shuns a truth seeker (w/video)]/b]

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on April 16, 2014, 08:51:13 AM
                                          Church of Scientology wins approval for building to store parishioner records

The Community Development Board Tuesday unanimously approved a Church of Scientology warehouse to be built in the city’s industrial corridor.

The nearly 90,000-square-foot warehouse will be used to house parishioner records, according to an application submitted by the church.

Church officials declined further comment Tuesday.

Board members wanted to know more about why the church would only provide 10 parking spaces for a building zoned for 133 spaces on the southeast corner of N Hercules Avenue and Calumet Street.

Between three and 15 workers will staff the facility in two shifts “day and night” behind a gated entrance, according to the application.

Ed Armstrong, an attorney representing the church, said the church “essentially had its own transit agency,” and planned to shuttle workers to and from the facility in vans and buses.

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on May 29, 2014, 03:11:03 AM
                                                    Scientology group's flier causes stir at Memorial Day service

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on August 27, 2014, 08:11:40 AM
                                          Scientology-related Narconon rehab center may have violated law

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on August 28, 2014, 08:08:16 AM
                                         Hernando commissioners approve mediated settlement over Narconon expansion plans

    By Barbara Behrendt and Joe Childs, Times Staff Writers

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on September 27, 2014, 08:51:13 AM
                                                        Joe Child is Leaving Tampa Bay Times

    Joe Child is the reporter that brought many important articles about the Cherch of $cientology.

    The Truth Rundown

    This series of articles is one of the most important articles written that has exposed the truth about the Co$. (IMHO)

    Joe Child is leaving the Tampa Bay Times. Here is the news about it...

                                 Tampa Bay Times exodus continues with six more staffers accepting buyouts


Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on October 04, 2014, 05:43:56 PM
                                        Scientology starts collecting $1 million judgment from longtime Tampa nemesis

The Church of Scientology has begun collecting a $1.07 million court judgment from one of its chief challengers, Tampa lawyer Ken Dandar, who has waged high-profile legal fights against Scientology off and on for 17 years......

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on October 14, 2014, 06:50:49 PM
                                   Ex-Tampa mayor Dick Greco: Clearwater should work with Scientologists

Check out the Church of Scientology's latest glossy Freedom magazine, and you'll see some advice for the city of Clearwater from former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco.

The message, conveyed in a two-page spread with Greco's likeness and byline: Team up with Scientology.

"There are two major partners — the City and the Church — that can make a plan that will carry the city to prosperity for decades to come," according to a guest column labeled "by former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco."

When Freedom hit Clearwater City Hall a couple weeks back, that column raised a few eyebrows.

"I was a little surprised that he would have written that without at least alerting me," said Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, who counts Greco as "a friend and an outstanding leader in the Tampa Bay area."

But on Monday, Greco said he didn't write the column, a first-person essay that talks about "my years as mayor" and "what I'd tell any city.".......

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on October 30, 2014, 12:28:34 PM
                                             Church of Scientology resists Clearwater aquarium's plans to move downtown

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 01, 2014, 09:26:11 PM
                                             Editorial: Church of Scientology cannot veto Clearwater Aquarium project

Friday, October 31, 2014

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on November 13, 2014, 09:30:48 PM
                                        Ruth: Public relations schism: Mormons and Scientologists

Daniel Ruth: Times columnist

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on January 05, 2015, 07:56:39 AM
                                      Church of Scientology works behind scenes against Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on August 21, 2015, 06:54:33 PM
                                 Church of Scientology says item noting David Jolly's upcoming appearance was 'cheap shot'

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on September 13, 2015, 08:28:12 PM
                                  Former Church of Scientology accountant's novel strategy: Get insiders to help topple David Miscavige

                                                            Must See...

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on December 05, 2015, 04:14:28 AM
                               City attorney to Clearwater police: Protests on sidewalk in front of Scientology building are legal

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on June 27, 2016, 08:13:53 AM
                              Scientology benefits when Miami dentist runs up patient bills

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on October 05, 2016, 06:44:38 AM
      Illegal house rental nets Clearwater lawyer $46,000 fine; she blames attention from Scientology

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on January 13, 2017, 04:23:35 PM
                              A Scientology battle like no other: Miscavige versus Miscavige

The father, who brought his wife and kids into Scientology in 1969, now calls his son a tyrant who has turned the church into a bullying, paranoid, money grubbing enterprise that has ruined families, including his own, with its practice of "disconnection."

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on February 06, 2017, 08:37:43 PM
             Clearwater downtown blueprint ignores Church of Scientology, the 'elephant in the room'

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on February 22, 2017, 04:36:11 PM
   Mystery property buyer in downtown Clearwater brings questions about Scientology's involvement

News at Noon: Small St. Pete building gets big attention; Scientology buying more of Clearwater?; couple allegedly hid landlord's body; should Bolts trade Bishop?

Title: Re: New St Petersburg Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on March 04, 2017, 03:14:45 PM
                 Scientology leader to visit Clearwater officials a week before vote on property purchase

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on March 08, 2017, 06:06:01 AM
                  Scientology plans control of downtown Clearwater for retail makeover

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on March 12, 2017, 07:17:36 PM
     Clearwater City Council unconcerned about learning of Scientology's detailed plan from newspaper

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on March 20, 2017, 04:04:40 PM
                            Scientology retail plan is rare, as few churches back non-religious businesses

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on March 25, 2017, 06:14:36 AM
                    Editorial: Clearwater officials should not surrender to Church of Scientology

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on April 02, 2017, 07:40:07 AM
                In downtown Clearwater, Scientology's bid for an expanded role is a matter of scripture

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on April 08, 2017, 02:05:44 AM
                   Church of Scientology ups bid for Clearwater Marine Aquarium land to $15 million

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on April 13, 2017, 06:03:30 PM
           Scientology leader David Miscavige presents Clearwater retail plan to downtown stakeholders

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on April 29, 2017, 06:27:06 PM
             Column: Clearwater Marine Aquarium responds to Church of Scientology's attack


Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on April 30, 2017, 04:47:37 PM
               Romano: Scientology's problems on Clearwater land deal are of its own making

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on May 04, 2017, 04:04:48 PM
             Documents detail FBI investigation of Scientology that never resulted in charges

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on May 06, 2017, 08:09:17 PM
                         Scientology's uniformed Sea Org staff clearly absent from downtown Clearwater

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on June 03, 2017, 03:26:05 AM
                        Clearwater in negotiations with Scientology for land swap

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on June 15, 2017, 09:20:47 PM
                  Clearwater City Council again thwarts Scientology land deal

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on June 27, 2017, 09:38:28 PM
                          Update: Scientology cancels planned mock FBI raid on downtown building

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on July 02, 2017, 05:53:28 PM
                  Scientology sends city a message: Don't let religious bias affect land deal

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on July 15, 2017, 12:21:37 AM
                    Calling Scientology a dangerous 'cult,' Calvary Baptist Church pastor intended to help A&E film episode for Leah Remini series

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on October 07, 2017, 07:26:31 PM
                    Downtown Clearwater board election could bring majority Scientology representation

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on October 20, 2017, 11:22:49 PM
                        Clearwater Police investigating Mexican girl's injury at Scientology headquarters

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on October 26, 2017, 09:19:13 PM
                               Police: Girl's fall, skull fracture at Scientology building was accidental

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on December 20, 2017, 03:50:55 PM
                     New freedoms for churches to back candidates cut from tax bill

Title: Re: New Tampa Bay Times expose
Post by: Ididntcomeback on January 11, 2018, 11:30:16 PM
                                In Scientology’s backyard, Baptist preacher ‘takes a stand’