Returning to Clearwater with a Miscavige cutout and memories of the Lisa McPherson Trust - 2018-04-13
Way back in 1999, we wrote a story for the Phoenix New Times about a local resident who was getting the full "Fair Game" treatment from the Church of Scientology. Jeff Jacobsen was a knowledgeable church critic who had alerted the world to the plight of a parishioner named Lisa McPherson who had died on the other side of the country. Jeff was also known for an excellent backgrounder on L. Ron Hubbard's "technology," and for being one of the members of the Lisa McPherson Trust in Clearwater, Florida. He made a trip back to Clearwater this week, and we asked him to send us his thoughts about it…
I took a quick trip to Florida for the first time since 2001, when the Lisa McPherson Trust closed down. While I worked there Clearwater was trying hard to figure out how to revitalize their downtown. The main problem, however, was that Scientology also had big plans for the downtown area, and had by then already purchased millions of dollars in properties, and their staff were heading to and fro everywhere in their uniforms. The place truly did seem occupied by some huge corporation, or maybe cult.
Clearwater still hasn't figured out how to revitalize downtown. I spent a couple of hours on my own last week just walking around to see what differences 17 years might have brought. It is a bit tidier now. There seem to be more stores open, although it is still far from revitalized. Little shops like the Lucky Anchor Bar have tables and chairs out in front of their respective locations. This is good because the city has ONE bench in all of downtown that I could see. They even took benches out of the Gaslight Alley Park, which essentially defeats the purpose of the park as a quiet place to relax. If the city wants to attract people downtown, why not give them shade trees and places to sit? I even asked this question at the downtown development office. The woman there said yes, that's a good point. I'll pass that on. Sure.