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Ididntcomeback
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« on: September 12, 2009, 07:59:50 AM »



                      Accountability: Where Does Your Money Go?

2009 September 11

by rebel008

A friend of mine, let’s call him Joe, was at Flag one day and was approached by one of the reges and asked to contribute more money to the Superpower Building.  Joe was already a Cornerstone Member, meaning he had contributed over $35,000 to the building.

“I thought you had all the money for the building,” Joe commented. “Why do you need more?”

“Well,” explained the reg, “Some of that money was used for the Oak Cove Building.”

“What do you mean?” said Joe, outraged. “I paid for the Superpower Building, not the Oak Cove Building.”

The reg tried to explain how the funds all went into a general building fund, and it was used for any of the Flag buildings and so on. But Joe was having none of it. He refused to contribute further. Now he’s quit the Church in protest of this and other outpoints.

Collecting money for one thing and then spending it on another could be called many things. Fraud is one of them.

The Church provides no transparency or accountability for the monies donated by public. But let’s look at a few of the facts we do have access to:

A poster at ESMB  keeps track of the Cornerstone Newsletter, published several times a year, which provides complete lists of everyone who has donated $35,000 or more to the Superpower Building. It also lists their contributor status, which is ranked according to how much they have contributed, from Cornerstone Member ($35,000) to Legion of OT Meritorious ($7,500,000). By multiplying the number of contributors in each status by the minimum amount required for that status, we get a low-ball figure for the amount collected so far. Low-ball because it is the minimum amount, and does not account for those contributing more in that category or those contributing under $35,000. His total, as of two years ago, August 2007, was $ 142,760,000.

Now let’s contrast that with the Church’s statement to the St. Petersburg Times in a March, 2009 article.

“Wright [Bob Wright, a Scientology staffer overseeing construction] said the building has cost about $40 million so far, and the church expects to spend $50 million finishing its elaborate interior. He leafed through 800 sheets of construction drawings for it. ‘It’s been planned to within an inch of its life,’ he said.”

Do you see a discrepancy here? The Church, by its own newsletter figures, has regged over $140 million for the project, which is projected to cost $90 million. According to my figures, that’s $50 million unaccounted for. Fifty million dollars.

Where did that $50 million go? Well, part of it, according to Joe’s reg, went to the Oak Cove renovations. Part of it, we know from that same St. Pete Times article, went for over $245,000 in city fines levied for not bringing the empty shell up to code.

But let’s do a few other comparisons. According to this website, the average cost per square foot for office building construction in Florida is $135.00. This is for Miami, and they don’t list Tampa, but one can’t imagine Tampa costing more than Miami. But $90 million for 380,000 square feet, according to my calculations, is $236.00 per square foot. According to the same website, the most expensive office construction costs in the U.S. are in New York City, where it’s $200.00 a square foot. So why is this building so expensive? Waste? Mistakes? Changes? There’s no way to know, as there is no transparency, no accountability.

Now factor in the probability that the bulk of the interior construction will be done by RPF labor – people who are paid pennies an hour, live in mass dormitories, and eat communally. One would have to ask why the internal construction would cost that much. Scientologists should know how much labor is being done by RPF, not only because of cost, but as an ethical point. We object when WalMart or Nike use sweatshop labor, why not when Scientology does?

And what about executive compensation? David Miscavige reportedly pays himself a six-figure salary, despite having his housing, food, transportation, clothing and other expenses covered by the Church. And despite other Sea Org Members being paid about $50 a week. Where is that accounting?

How about some financial accountability from the Church of Scientology? Is that an unreasonable demand?

No, as a matter of fact, it isn’t. Other Churches and charities have faced similar issues, and have adopted standards of financial accountability and transparency.

This 2002 article in the New York Times  notes that “20 percent of American congregations lose money to people entrusted with church finances,” and lists a number of instances of churches which faced issues of financial accountability. Executives from a number of churches were found guilty of ripping off hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, from donations received from congregations for various church projects. In one case, extensively investigated by the Kansas City Star, church leaders had solicited funds from members for building projects which were never done, or which languished in an incomplete stage for years. Sound familiar?

Another article here, about another church, notes:

“The New Apostolic Church is one of very few remaining organisations that cloud its financial affairs in secrecy. Not even members of the church are allowed access to financial statements. No provision is made in the constitution of the New Apostolic Church International or, as far as we know, in any of the constitutions of the various Apostle Districts for financial reporting to members.  Members experience a great deal of pressure to contribute ten percent of their gross income to the church. Yet the leaders of the church do not report to members on how their contributions are spent. This is an ideal situation for mismanagement of funds.”

Scientology is one of those “few remaining” organizations that provides no financial accounting of donations.

To guard against such financial abuses, several organizations have adopted standards of financial accountability. A compendium of standards, codes and best practices is here. Two of the best known are the standards of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Another is the Standards for Charitable Accountability of the Better Business Bureau.

Some of the key points are these:

Governance and Oversight: Having an active church board is stressed. At least some of the members of this board should be lay people, not organization staff. The BBB recommends that no more than one board member be directly compensated by the organization. The ECFA recommends a church board of at least five people, none of whom are staff, or related to staff. All agree that there should be lay oversight of church expenditures. The board authorizes a full yearly audit of the church’s finances and transactions.

Measuring Effectiveness: The board conducts a regular review, yearly or bi-yearly, of the organization’s performance and effectiveness and determines future actions required to achieve its mission. This board, by the way, also conducts a yearly review of the CEO’s or leader’s performance.

Finances: Complete annual financial statements, prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, are to be prepared and published. Included in the financial statements is a breakdown of expenses (e.g., salaries, travel, postage, etc.) that shows what portion of these expenses was allocated to program, fund raising, and administrative activities.

Is this too much for Scientologists to ask of their Church?

Maybe there’s nothing wrong, you say. Maybe the Church is being fully responsible and ethical in its use of public donations.

Maybe.

But full transparency and accountability would show that too, wouldn’t it?

Added Note: for more information on this, see the recent post on Marty Rathbun’s blog.

« Last Edit: March 09, 2014, 08:01:22 AM by Ididntcomeback » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2009, 08:04:10 AM »

I just read an interesting post on the Leaving Scientology blog, at Leaving Scientology

More than $142,760,000 dollars has been raised for the Superpower building. One public recently learned that one reason the Church keeps crush reging for Superpower – even though an official Church spokesperson told the media recently it would cost no more than $90,000,000 grand total in costs to complete – is that Superpower donations have been siphoned off for projects other than Superpower. The Church spokesman also said that $40,000,000 has been spent so far on the empty shell.

You ever wonder why the Church has let that $40,000,000 building shell languish for close to ten years? There are at least four reasons.

First, they don’t have a clue what Superpower is. See Joe Howard’s piece for details at Super Power - It's Context and Theory | www.scientology-cult.com
http://www.scientology-cult.com/super-power.html

Second, it is one more excuse to crush reg huge sums of money that one of their Reges has already admitted is used for other purposes.

Third, there is no OT IX and X on the horizon. And DM needs some carrot to keep the OT VIII’s on the reservation. He falsely leads them on as if Superpower is some next step on the Bridge for them. Future posts will detail how OT IX and X are not even over the horizon.

Fourth, the elaborate groundbreaking and immediate heavy construction activity to build the shell was not done for purposes of getting Superpower delivered in the first place. I participated in the planning of that 1998 groundbreaking event with Tom Devocht, Mike Rinder and DM. The groundbreaking show – with bleachers brought in and packed with Scientologists, fireworks, and other bells and whistles- was put on within a couple short weeks after the Church was indicted for its involvement in the death of Lisa McPherson. It was ordered by DM at great expense for the sole purpose of diverting the public’s, the media’s and the Tampa Bay area population’s attention off of McPherson.

Once the last civil case connected with McPherson was settled in early 2004, the Church really put the brakes on the building, racking up nearly $250,000 in building department fines for not completing the building in a timely fashion.

But the reg machine never slowed down one iota. Already, it has created a $50,000,000 slush fund of DM funny money.
ESMB Thread: Rathbun Says SP Building Begun Purely To Distract Public from Lisa McPherson
http://markrathbun.wordpress.com/2009/09/11/superpower-rip-off/
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« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2009, 07:16:55 AM »

             Scientology, others let code fines mount in Clearwater
                         

Scientology’s Super Power building is still unfinished in downtown Clearwater after years of dawdling.  The city started imposing daily fines against Scientology but no one is trying to collect from them, even as the economy has hit the city hard.  The local press look into the situation.

The city of Clearwater is so strapped for cash that leaders have eliminated 86 jobs, cut library hours, and raised the property tax rate.

Parks and recreation workers even stopped flying the American flag for a few days over 13 city landmarks to save a couple of bucks.

But one step the city staff has not taken to help make ends meet is forcing city code violators, including the Church of Scientology, to pay the $3.4 million in fines they owe.

The city counts 43 unpaid liens stemming from code violations by property owners, some of them on the books for years and some growing by hundreds of dollars a day.

“There’s ways of collecting that money,” said Herb Quintero, owner of the Complete Angler tackle shop north of the downtown district. “If they choose not to, it’s a frivolous fine.”

Quintero says he knows all about frivolous fines.

The city penalized him $690 for a fish mural painted on the side of his wall in violation of Clearwater’s sign ordinance. In this case the city did take Quintero to court, rather than put the matter before the code enforcement board for review, he said.

So why go after some and not others?

“You could pay for a lot of flags,” Quintero said. “You could pay for a lot of libraries, a lot of parks.”

City spokesman Joelle Castelli said Quintero wound up in court because he reneged on agreements to resolve his dispute. But in the end, he prevailed, arguing his First Amendment right to free expression. He won $55,000 from the city for his costs.

All told, during the first 11 months of the current fiscal year, Clearwater has collected $92,264 in code enforcement fines by going to court. But the four biggest fines pending have been building for years and amount to more than $200,000 each.

Allison V. Thompson is at the top of the list. She’s been disputing an unpermitted deck extension on the back of her house at 2271 Springrain Dr. for more than three years and owes taxpayers more than $290,000. Thompson says she and her architect are still trying to resolve the issue with city inspectors.

Next is the Church of Scientology, with $287,000 in liens.

Construction began in 1999 and stopped in 2004 on the church’s 380,000-square-foot Mecca Building at 215 St. Ft. Harrison. Two years later, the city’s municipal code enforcement board began assessing fines because the church was out of compliance with a permit that required active construction to finish the exterior shell.

The debt has been growing at a rate of $250 a day since June 26, 2006, according to city records.

But like the other code enforcement liens recorded in official records, no one is trying to collect this debt. City policy is to refrain from pursuing construction permit fines until the permit comes back into compliance, which hasn’t happened.

The city even granted the church two new construction permits this year without resolving the fine over the first one.

“They owe the money in question,” said Mayor Frank Hibbard. “The question is what will they owe in total by the time they actually come into compliance.”

Hibbard said he expects the church to complete work on the Mecca building’s exterior within four to six weeks, at which time he says the church will formally come into compliance and the fines will become due.

“They have a right to go to the code enforcement board and ask for a reduction in those fines.” Hibbard said. “Our guidance to the code enforcement board is they need to be paid in full.”

Hibbard said he and City Manager Bill Horne held a private meeting with Scientology’s board Chairman David Miscavige about a year and a half ago and told him the fines are not negotiable.

“I’ve made that known to their leadership that we expect those fines to be paid in full,” Hibbard said.

Church spokesman Peter Mansell said the church does intend to settle matters with the city eventually.

“There are several matters that need to be resolved with the code enforcement board before the liens can be finalized and at that point they will be paid,” Mansell said.

Mansell predicts the Mecca Building, a center for Scientology training, will be ready for occupancy by fall 2010. At that time, the city will expect payment of the fines as well as $439,396.17 in traffic impact fees.

Mansell said the traffic fees will be paid in full before a certificate of occupancy is issued.

The delay in payment of the fines isn’t an issue of affordability for Scientology, Mansell said, noting that the church is downtown’s biggest private landowner and pays about a million dollars a year in property taxes.

Meantime, the flags at least are flying again as city council members focus on new ways to cut costs and balance the budget.

But code enforcement debt isn’t part of the strategy. The fines aren’t meant as a money-maker, Hibbard said, but as a way to force people to obey the law. Besides, the city can’t count on it year after year.

“We can use it for one time instances but not ongoing expenses,” Hibbard said.

The city did crack down on one type of violation, overdue library books, in January 2000, even arresting a pregnant mother of two small children who had kept books and videos too long. That policy ended soon after the woman’s release from jail, but not before sparking a surge in overdue book returns by other library patrons.

Quintero, the tackle shop owner, said his experience with the mural showed him the need for a simple, black-and-white approach to code enforcement fines.

“If they don’t owe the money, leave them alone,” Quintero said. “If they owe the money, make them pay it.”

Read the full report at Tamba Bay online.  Meanwhile, Marty Rathbun was writing about the Super Power Building on his blog the other day and had some mighty interesting things to say about why the building remained unfinished all these years.

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/sep/11/scientology-others-let-code-fines-mount-clearwater/news-breaking/
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« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2010, 12:39:49 PM »

Cornerstone Newsletter [circa August 2007]
Super Power Project


The Cornerstone Newsletter is published a few times
a year and is a cumulative list of Scientologists that have
made a donation to the Super Power Building in the
amount of $35,000.00 or more.

I’ve been collecting and reporting the stats on those
donations for the past 5 years.

The total collected per the newsletter as of Aug 2007
is $ 142,760,000.00. This figure is a “low-ball” figure
and does not include the people who are “Double
Cornerstone members”, i.e., paid 35,000 dollars twice
or (70,000 dollars) nor does it include any
“Double Legion of Honor” members, which would be
those that paid a million dollars twice, or any other
“Double” members.

That information comes out in other Church publications
and promotional pieces and I have not spent the time to
keep track of all of them.

Additionally, this list does not include those people that
have donated less than 35,000 dollars. Those people and
donations exist but Scientology does spend the promo
money to list them out.

Also, this list does not include donations made by people
who have since left the Church and been declared SP’s
or “ethics bait”. The Church deletes those people’s names
from the lists.

So the $ 142,760,000.00 is a “low-ball” figure and my
guess is that the figure is probably closer to $175 million
to $200 million dollars raised.


Below you can see the stats that I have kept.


The Income total in Jan 2002 was $ 67,100,000.00
The Income total in April 2002 was $ 69,475,000.00
The Income total in September 2002 was $72,070,000.00
The Income total in March 2003 was $81,345,000.00
The Income total in August 2003 was $84,500,000.00
The Income total in February 2004 was $90,790,000.00
The Income total in March 2004 was $92,110,000.00
The Income total in July 2004 was $88,905,000.00
The Income total in November 2004 was $92,915,000.00
The Income total in July 2005 was $110,510,000.00

THE INCOME TOTAL IN AUGUST 2007 IS $ 142,760,000.00
Cornerstone Newsletter [circa August 2007] Super Power Project - Ex Scientologist Message Board
More there.

Isn't the internet freaking useful?

moar...

 The cult's Superpower building (they just call it the FLAG building now) is mentioned in this SP times article today on large construction projects nearing completion:

Some of the northern Pinellas' biggest construction projects are nearing completion - St. Petersburg Times | in print 29th August 2010
[comments open

http://www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/some-of-the-northern-pinellas-biggest-construction-projects-are-nearing/1118215

Quote:
Scientology's Flag Building

What: Work resumed last year on this enormous building that had sat vacant and unfinished since work stopped in 2003. The Church of Scientology must finish the building's interior.

Where: 215 S Fort Harrison Ave.

Cost: About $40 million so far, and it expects $50 million more.

Time line: To be determined
Amongst all the projects listed, only two have an undetermined timeline for completion. The superpower building and a car park.

I don't know whether those $ figures are taken from the SP Times previous articles on the subject or whether the cult has reaffirmed that the cost is definitely going to be $90million, which is way less than the claimed donations.
As mentioned ealier in the thread, the cult said in 2007 that it had reached $142million in donations for the Super Power Expansion project.

http://forums.whyweprotest.net/15-media/superpower-expansion-project-15175/4/
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« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2010, 12:17:28 AM »

                     Form letter from Flag


-------------------------------------------------------------------------

It has been officially announced to the entire Scientology world that there remains only 500 Staff members needed for the release of Super Power!

 

With over one thousand Super Power recruits having been gotten and many hundreds of those in the recent months of 2010, it is easy to see that this target is imminent.  And thus a Call to Arms is being sent out to all Scientologists. 

 

To impress upon you the importance of the Super Power Rundowns in the overall strategy for Planetary Clearing, this is what LRH said:

 

“You’ve always had the idea of clearing the planet, right?  Alright – THIS is how we’ll do it.” - LRH

 

In 1978, the year that he referred to as “The Year of Lightning Fast New Tech,” LRH named Super Power the most major breakthrough of that year – the same year he released the Purification Rundown, New Era Dianetics, and NED for OTs!

 

For over 30 years the Sea Organization has been dedicatedly working towards this epic release according to exact programs and strategies from LRH.  We are now closer than ever to the final alignment of elements necessary to release these rundowns and the sole missing piece is the final addition of staff members who will realize the most crucial event in our history.

 

We have never been closer – only a handful more to go. 

 

For those who do not qualify for the Sea Org, then my question is how can you back this up?

 

For those who do – my question is will you be one of the Final 500?

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Frank Feeney

Recruitment Officer

Senior HCO Flag Land Base
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
  I can`t even be bothered pointing out the contradictions in this piece of fluff.
Historically only Nero comes close to this level of non confront

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« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2010, 03:11:07 PM »

      Can these rendered images be from the secret Super Power building in Clearwater, Florida:


http://www.xenu.net/archive/spb/
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« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2011, 07:51:55 AM »

         Super Power release, can you believe this shit.

http://www.forum.exscn.net/showthread.php?t=21872
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« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2011, 09:15:57 AM »


Will Clearwater press Scientology to pay $450,000 fine in full?

By Drew Harwell, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Friday, June 10, 2011


CLEARWATER — For years the Church of Scientology's unfinished Flag Building, its biggest structure in the world, stood fenced off and frozen in time.

Trash and overgrown grass lined the seven-story empty shell as the church stalled its construction.

In 2006, the city of Clearwater got fed up and started levying a $250 daily fine. After the building finally passed all its inspections Monday, the meter stopped at an eye-popping $450,000, easily one of the biggest fines in the city's history.

But before paying up, church representatives will likely talk to a group few Clearwater residents ever see: the city's Code Enforcement Board, which has the power to cut the church's fine.

That leaves the fate of nearly half a million dollars that the city needs at the hands of an obscure, all-volunteer board that's more familiar with problems like neglected swimming pools and boats parked on lawns.

City leaders aren't excited about the prospect. They say the 12 years it took to finish the Flag Building, which fills an entire downtown block, was excessive and inexcusable.

"I'm not in favor of reducing the fine a dollar," said City Council member Paul Gibson. "We're not talking about someone who failed to mow their grass on schedule. We're talking about a large organization that failed to finish … year after year after year after year."

The money would help replenish a city budget that's millions of dollars in the red. But the council, which appoints residents to the code board, has no say in the decision.

The Code Enforcement Board has never dealt with a project or fine like this. Most people whose cases they decide are down on their luck or testing the rules. Most of the cases involve shabby homes. Their biggest case recently involved a woman with an Astroturf lawn.

When the board gets a request to cut a fine, it almost always agrees. Over the past two years, only two out of 14 requests were denied, board minutes show. Fines totaling $229,000 were trimmed by the board to $16,000. In most cases, code violators ended up paying about $1,000 for administrative costs.

The board of seven, serving three-year terms, includes an insurance claims adjuster, a civil engineer, a marketing company owner, a real estate lawyer and three retirees.

Most members were appointed last year, four years after the Flag Building fines began. Board chairman Michael Boutzoukas offered to volunteer in 2008 after talking with Vice Mayor George Cretekos at a church festival.

In contrast, the Church of Scientology has devoted more than a decade to what it calls its "Flag Mecca," open solely to Scientologists and their guests.

The building will house the church's counseling, or "auditing," services in more than 300 rooms on the top six floors. On the ground floor, a chapel will host weddings and newborn-naming ceremonies. A grand lobby will feature an exhibit on the church's beliefs.

Nicknamed the "Super Power" building, it will also host a highly classified Scientology program that promises to instill heightened senses in paying parishioners — the only such Super Power program in the world, according to the church.

Construction began in 1998, stopped in 1999, restarted in 2000 and stalled out in 2003. Grand opening dates came and went. The chain-link fence around the building's hollow shell cast a nasty edge on efforts to redevelop downtown.

The church took criticism but said its redesigns needed time. "We build for eternity," former spokesman Ben Shaw told the Times. "When we do that, we want it perfect."

A year after the fines began, Mayor Frank Hibbard and City Manager Bill Horne met with church leader David Miscavige at City Hall to urge him to finish the project. They recall that Miscavige promised to pay the fines when the building was finished, saying, "Money is not a problem."

Now, four years later, whether that promise will be kept remains to be seen.

The church has yet to apply to reduce the fine, but city planning director Michael Delk said church representatives told him they would like to ask for a fine reduction from the board in July or August.

Church spokeswoman Pat Harney said, "We are simply following the standard procedures to close out any remaining permit issues."

Most members of the Code Enforcement Board said they wouldn't speak about the case before their meeting, which is yet to be scheduled. But member Sheila Cole, who was serving on the board when the fine began, called her chances of voting for a cut "pretty unlikely."

"The city has already bent over backwards to make it possible for Scientology to finish their buildings," Cole said. "It's gone on too long to be completely forgiven."

Since 2000, the church has paid the city, county and state $2.2 million in permit, plan review, impact and other fees, city assistant planning director Gina Clayton said.

Harney said "it would not be appropriate" to give a final cost for construction, as the building was funded by parishioners' donations. When reminded of estimates that the building would cost $90 million, she said those "were not incorrect."

The Flag Building received its certificate of occupancy on Monday. Harney said the church will host a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony there later this year.

Vice Mayor Cretekos knows how he would like this all to turn out.

"The church would show a great deal of respect to the city, that it is wanting to be a partner to the city, in light of the fact that it is purchasing property in the city, if they paid the fines in full," he said.

http://www.tampabay.com/news/scientology/will-clearwater-press-scientology-to-pay-450000-fine-in-full/1174576
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« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2011, 06:09:49 PM »

                          Scientology must pay every penny of fines

In Print: Wednesday, June 15, 2011

There is a big difference between a small property owner who neglects to cut his grass and a multimillion-dollar international organization that takes 12 years to finish a building in the heart of Clearwater's downtown. The city's Code Enforcement Board must hold the Church of Scientology accountable and aggressively seek $450,000 in fines the church owes for code violations. The church has been on notice for years it was defying the law, and now it's time for it to pay.

For much of the last decade, the entire 200 block of Fort Harrison Avenue has been an eyesore — a gigantic shell of a building surrounded by a chain-link fence. The church began construction on the "Super Power" building in 1998 but only obtained its certificate of occupancy on June 6 after numerous construction fits and stops. Multiple times in between, city leaders sought to urge the church along only to be rebuffed. Finally in 2006, the city began assessing fines of $250 a day.

Now church representatives have told officials that the church will seek a reduction in the fine at the Code Enforcement Board's July meeting. As St. Petersburg Times' reporter Drew Harwell reported, the all-volunteer board is generally receptive to fee reduction requests: Only two of 14 such requests in the past two years haven't been granted. And fines totaling more than $229,000 have been trimmed to $16,000.

But this is no routine case of a landlord who forgot to treat a pool or of a resident who has a car up on blocks in the front yard. Most often the board's cases involve far smaller infractions — not a decadelong delay in finishing a multimillion-dollar edifice that reshaped Clearwater's skyline.

This willful defiance was committed by one of the city's most prominent property owners that clearly has the resources to pay. The church, after all, just found another $6.7 million last month to buy an additional two parcels of downtown property from Pinellas County. And no small property owner could possibly hope to so blatantly ignore the building code for so long and not be held to account.

In 2007, when Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard and City Manager Bill Horne met with church leader David Miscavige to encourage completion of the Super Power building, Miscavige told them the church would pay the fines when the building was complete.

Now the building is finished. Miscavige should honor that promise and pay every single penny. But if the church insists on pressing its case, the Code Enforcement Board must say no.

Otherwise, the city risks seeing its building code ignored every time the Church of Scientology or any other major landowner undertakes construction.

http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/article1175248.ece
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« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2011, 05:46:43 PM »


                       Church of Scientology requests fine reduction


CLEARWATER - Clearwater's Municipal Code Enforcement Board will consider a request to reduce a $451,500 penalty imposed against the Church of Scientology. That figure represents a $250-per-day fine that continued for nearly five years when work stopped on the "Mecca Building" in downtown Clearwater.

"In the years when there was nothing happening, there were a lot of complaints," city spokesperson Joelle Castelli explained. "It was unsightly, the landscaping was overgrown, it looked like it was an abandoned shell of a building."

Construction started in March of 2000 but stopped sometime in 2004, with the initial building permit expiring in November 2004. A notice of violation was issued in February 2006.

The exterior shell passed an inspection this past June, and the daily penalty stopped. A spokesperson for the Church of Scientology said interior work is still underway and an opening date has not been set.

The 300,000 square foot Mecca Building covers an entire city block and the construction was valued at $32 million, according to a building permit. When it is finished, it will be Scientology's premiere education center, with "course and counseling" facilities for 1,300 parishioners at a time.

Scientology calls Clearwater its "Flag Land Base" and the Church owns numerous downtown properties to accommodate visitors from around the world.

The Code Enforcement Board will consider the request to reduce the construction penalty August 24th.



http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/dpp/news/local/pinellas/church-of-scientology-requests-fine-reduction-08122011
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« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2011, 05:20:34 PM »

           Scientology must pay Clearwater $413,000 in fines

http://www2.tbo.com/news/breaking-news/2011/aug/24/6/scientology-faces-hearing-on-fines-over-new-hq-ar-252622/
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« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2011, 01:11:31 PM »

                        Board makes right call in fining Scientology

In Print: Friday, August 26, 2011

The volunteers on Clearwater's Code Enforcement Board got it right Wednesday when they voted unanimously to require one of downtown's biggest property owners to pay $413,000 in building code fines. If the Church of Scientology chooses to appeal, a circuit court judge should be just as hard pressed to find any reason to give the church a break after it so flagrantly defied the rules.

For much of the last decade, a gigantic shell of a building, surrounded by a chain-link fence, consumed the entire 200 block of Fort Harrison Avenue in the heart of downtown. The church's "Super Power" building was finally completed in June, 13 years after construction began. It clearly wasn't a lack of resources that led to the delay. Even as the eyesore sat in the middle of downtown, the church spent millions renovating and buying other properties downtown.

When the code board does grant a break, it's usually due to economic hardship: A small property owner can't afford to fix the pool or repair the property and pay a hefty fine. But that's clearly not the case here. Nor can the church claim ignorance. Its leaders, including David Miscavige, repeatedly rebuffed overtures from the top levels of City Hall, which actually didn't begin levying the $250-a-day fine until 2006 — eight years after construction began.

The church should take the small concession it did receive Wednesday — a roughly $35,000 reduction to account for any delays that might have been caused by city review — and pay up. That's what a good neighbor should do, particularly after being a bad one for so long.


http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/article1187992.ece
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« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2011, 02:07:05 PM »

        Inside Scientology's Super Power Building... where worshippers of the controversial religion will be told they can become superhuman

    $90m centre due to open in Florida before end of year

By Daniel Miller

 28th September 2011

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2042730/Inside-Scientologys-Super-Power-Building--worshippers-controversial-religion-told-superhuman.html#ixzz1ZIrJodtT
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« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2011, 06:23:10 PM »

A comment from Mike Rider (Scio ex PR guy.) on Marty Rathbun`s blog...

mrinder | November 16, 2011 at 1:38 am | Reply

Chris — They have been telling the same lie about Superpower “opening this year” for 5 years at least. It’s a “buy now” and it works. There are a LOT of peoiple who have given their hard earned cash to this project on the basis that it was their contribution that would make planetary clearing a reality.

In truth, the hold up on opening the building has NEVER been money.

These days I think the failure to open it is for two reasons:

1. It would cause a decline in income if the place was actually open. They make more (without having to deliver anything) to say “we are going to open it, but we just need a hundred thousand (or whatever the reg thinks is going to work) to make it happen

2. If it was open, the few public that are there would be wandering around echoing halls, the course rooms would be empty, there wouldnt be enough staff to have one in every room, and it would be apparent that the Emperor has no clothes and his little winkie is hanging out…
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« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2012, 08:22:51 AM »

             
                Scientology: Secrets of the Super Power Building
By Tony Ortega Mon., Jan. 9 2012

4 page article          Also posted on "the Village Voice " thread

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/01/scientology_super_power_building_secrets.php

Plus this

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/01/scientology_oiliness_super_power_building.php

And more

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/01/scientologys_su_1.php


                    The Inner Workings of Scientology's New Super Power Building
http://curbed.com/archives/2012/01/11/the-inner-workings-of-scientologys-new-super-power-building.php
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