ClearwaterThe St. Petersburg Times reported in articles on March 18th and 23rd that a group of Scientologists have purchased one of the large office buildings in downtown Clearwater, Florida. "A group of international investors who frequently visit the Church of Scientology's downtown religious retreat have purchased a nine-story office building one block away. Despite its proximity to the church, the building anchored by the AmSouth bank will not be leased or sold to the church, said Tom Wright, a spokesman for the investors. The white building, which overlooks Clearwater Harbor, sold for $8.2-million March 4. "Its location and position as one of downtown's largest buildings have created a buzz about what the future holds. That buzz intensified as word spread that the new owners are Scientologists. The church has no plans to buy or lease any part of the building, said church spokesman Ben Shaw. 'I can assure you, the church has no interest in it,' he said. 'These are just businessmen, and from what I understand, very successful businessmen.' "On Monday, Assistant City Manager Ralph Stone said the city is anxious to hear what's in store for the AmSouth building. 'We certainly want to meet with them and see what their plans are,' he said of the new owners. 'Because that's a key piece of downtown property.' Tenants said they were assured they wouldn't have to move. "Last week, Kevin Burke, one of the new owners, made the rounds at the AmSouth building to introduce himself. He told Martin Richardson of Corporate Sports Marketing Group Inc. to expect 'business as usual,' Richardson said. 'Our first thought was, 'Do they want all non-Scientologists out?' Richardson said. 'That doesn't seem to be the case.' "The other investors are Roberto Santos, Elias Jaffif and Marcos Salame, according to corporate records. The investors bought the property from Decade Gulfcoast Office Partners, headed by Jeffrey Keierleber. Records from the county Property Appraiser's Office show Decade Gulfcoast bought the property in 1996 for $3.1-million." "Forget the nine-story AmSouth building, the real gem in the recent purchase of 400 Cleveland St. by a group of international investors appears to be the parking lot that came with it. On that paved lot, the investors tentatively plan to build a high-rise, said Lee Arnold, whose real estate firm helped broker the AmSouth purchase. "Arnold said he met two weeks ago with Elias Jaffif, one of the four investors, all of whom are Scientologists who noticed the property while visiting Clearwater for Scientology services. Arnold said Jaffif told him the investors are interested in developing some mix of uses in a high-rise: perhaps condos and hotel rooms or offices, atop a parking garage and street-level retail stores. Jaffif also seemed very interested in including a movie theater, Arnold said. "News of the prominent building's sale last week to a group of Scientologists resulted in a range of reactions. 'There are definitely different camps in town,' said city Commissioner Frank Hibbard. One camp, he said, had this reaction: 'Oh, no, they (Scientologists) are buying more.' The other camp thought it irrelevant that the buyers are Scientologists, he said, so long as they are committed to improving the downtown. 'I would just like to see this land stay on the tax rolls and be around for larger overall development,' Hibbard said. "Some downtown business owners said who bought the building, and what they may plan to do with it, is less important than the city's commitment to the downtown. 'To me, it (the purchase) doesn't mean anything,' said Terry Tsafatinos, who owns five commercial properties downtown, several of which he rents to Scientologists with small businesses. 'I don't think Scientologists, by themselves, can save the downtown.' "A lingering negative attitude about the Church of Scientology's large downtown presence is one big reason some people won't invest there, he said. 'That's why we suffer,' Tsafatinos said. 'People, they discriminate against each other. Some people are afraid of Scientologists for no reason at all. They have to stop that.'" The St. Petersburg Times reported on March 22nd that a candidate for Mayor of Clearwater was introduced to a group of Scientologists interested in her campaign. "Several weeks ago, political consultant Mary Repper told mayoral candidate Pam Iorio that several friends wanted to meet her. But the introduction came with a warning. Her friends included prominent members of the Church of Scientology, Repper said. 'They were interested in my candidacy,' Iorio said Friday, adding she doesn't ask supporters about their religious backgrounds. 'I viewed them as individuals who lived in Tampa and knew of my record and wanted to offer support. I truly treat all people the same and all people with respect.' "Years ago, Repper said, she would have never introduced a mayoral candidate to a group of Scientologists. The church was too much of an issue. Now, Repper said she has invited Hillsborough County commissioners, City Council members and other elected officials to meet Scientologists. 'I work with a lot of elected officials who turn to the church,' Repper said. "Repper said the Scientologists who held the fundraiser for Iorio also helped her opponent, Frank Sanchez. Campaign finance records show the three Scientologists gave a total of $800 to Sanchez." Message-ID: rPFda.18330$gU.email@example.com Message-ID: 6i_ea.18364$gU.firstname.lastname@example.org Message-ID: email@example.com
The Way to HappinessAn email sent to Dutch Scientologists urged them to collect copies of The Way to Happiness by L. Ron Hubbard for shipment to Iraq. "I received the following order from Int management: 'Collect 10.000 Way to Happiness booklets from The Netherlands to send to Iraq.' The threat of war in Iraq increases by the hour. My father and brother are at this moment in Israel. They have sealed the houses, a gasmask lies next to their chair. Despite the reports there is much fear that Saddam Hussein will attack Israel with chemical weapons. The Org too has been blinded and sealed. "There are thousands of WTH booklets in Arabic printed and lying ready to be sent out in Copenhagen. The Netherlands has the quota of 10,000. One booklet can prevent a wrong decision and can trigger a decision to not commit a murder. See what you can do and mail or call me back. It's gotta be quick! We have no time to lose. This is a 'call to arms'! "Omri Paz, Head, Books Department Amsterdam Org" Message-ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
TaiwanReuters reported on March 20th that the government of Taiwan has recognized Scientology as a religion. "'At this time of world peril, our recognition in Taiwan reflects a country where diversity is celebrated rather than politicized,' Rev. Heber C. Jentzsch, president of the Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology International, said, adding that Taiwan is the 100th government acknowledgment or recognition of Scientology internationally." Message-ID: email@example.com
A.r.s. Week in Review is put together by Rod Keller ©
This collection is organised for WWW by Andreas Heldal-Lund.
Only edits done by me is replacing word encapsuled in * or _ with bold and underscore, and made links into HTML.