Friday, May 25, 2018
News Roundup

Scientologists cancel Flag Building dedication scheduled for Oct. 6

CLEARWATER — Two decades ago, the Church of Scientology announced it would build a blockbuster of a building in downtown Clearwater to contain a program the church's founder said would enable Scientologists to "create a new world."

Last month, after many years of delays and construction starts and stops, church leaders proclaimed that the ornate, city block-sized structure would open Oct. 6 with a dedication ceremony attended by 10,000 Scientologists and guests.

But now, there's another delay.

On Wednesday, city leaders confirmed that the church is delaying the grand opening indefinitely.

The church faced two city deadlines this week to supply information for a special events permit to close streets and sidewalks around the Flag Building, also known as the "Super Power" building. But on Tuesday, a church representative called city Parks and Recreation director Kevin Dunbar to say that the church had decided to delay the event. No alternative date was provided.

A church spokeswoman didn't return phone calls and an email requesting comments Wednesday.

Dunbar has directed his staff to start looking at dates that definitely wouldn't work for the large event. Fall is a busy event season for the city and finding a date for the building dedication that will work might prove difficult, said City Manager Bill Horne.

"The problem is that the further you go into the fall, the more competition you get from other events," Horne said. "Here's another example of where good planning makes a difference. An event planned for late September or early October would avoid that kind of competition."

The church has been emailing its members for months in an effort to assure a large crowd would show up for the opening, said church critic Mike Rinder, a former Scientology executive who now writes a blog critical of church leadership and claims to hear about some goings-on inside the church. Many days he posts letters and emails he says the church has sent to its members.

The church first asked its members to make travel plans to Clearwater in September for the dedication, then shifted to October, said Rinder, who was chief spokesman and a central figure in planning church events for more than 20 years before defecting in 2007.

Rinder said that during his tenure there, the church often made last-minute program changes for big events, but never changed dates.

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos said he had heard several possible dates Wednesday.

"It's a moving target. Stay tuned," he said.

The Super Power building's dedication is just one of three major Scientology events being planned for downtown Clearwater in coming months — and all of them now appear to involve a huge tent the church has erected downtown to hold thousands of people.

The church put up the heavy-duty tent, which fits over a metal superstructure and resembles an aircraft hangar, in late August in preparation for a different Scientology event, a gathering of the International Association of Scientologists scheduled for Nov. 8-9 and estimated to draw about 8,000 church members.

But Horne said late Wednesday that he now understands that the tent, which borders Court Street, the main thoroughfare to Clearwater Beach, will remain in place through the end of the year.

It will be used for the Flag Building dedication, the International Association of Scientologists gathering, and a New Year's Eve event that the church usually holds in California.

The tent hasn't been a bone of contention for Clearwater residents so far and doesn't worry Cretekos.

"You say 'tent' and I think of an old revival-style tent. This is more like a building. I don't see it falling down in bad weather," Cretekos said, adding that he's not concerned about the tent staying up for the balance of 2013.

He said he hasn't heard from any residents upset about the tent.

Charlie Frago can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4159. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieFrago

Comments
Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

Rays journal: Rays shut out by Orioles in opener

By Joey JohnstonTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough deserved better Friday. But the offense didn't offer much, allowing the Orioles to escape with a 2-0 victory before an announced crowd of 11,354 at Tropicana Field."It ...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG – In January, sure.In July, absolutely.But, now?And, once again, for someone who they hope helps in the future.The Rays made a shocking trade at a surprising time of year Friday, dealing All-Star closer Alex Colome and Tampa...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Steve Yzerman’s summer plans: Make the Lightning better

Steve Yzerman’s summer plans: Make the Lightning better

TAMPA — Captain Steven Stamkos said the Lightning's window for contending for a Stanley Cup championship is not closing."I think it's wide open," he said Thursday, one day after the Lightning lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final to the C...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still can’t stop bad judgment

It’s human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
In federal trial, jury finds Hernando deputies’ actions justified

In federal trial, jury finds Hernando deputies’ actions justified

TAMPA — Michael Bratt told a story.He said that Hernando County sheriff’s deputies attacked him in his home early one morning eight years ago, beat him severely on his front lawn, and continued the assault as they took him to a hospital.But another s...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

The 18-year-old who was arrested this week after police said he was racing when he fatally struck a young mother pushing her stroller across Bayshore Boulevard was back in jail on Friday night.Cameron Herrin, 18, was arrested on a second count of veh...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Stanley Cup final begins Monday in the unlikeliest of places: a city new to major pro sports and suddenly the center of the hockey world, Las Vegas, whose Golden Knights could become the first first-year expansion team to win a championship.And t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Before we even get going, let me be clear about something.This is not a column making an argument about whether or not NFL players should be able to kneel in protest during the national anthem.That topic has been debated repeatedly, loudly and passio...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

The Rays made a major trade Friday afternoon, sending All-Star closer Alex Colome and OF Denard Span to the Mariners.The return is two minor-leaguers, RHP Andrew Moore and RHP Tommy Romero. The Rays also sent cash to the Mariners.Span, a Tampa produc...
Updated: 4 hours ago
For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

By JOEY JOHNSTONTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For openers, the Rays will use RHP Sergio Romo, the 35-year-old career reliever, as tonight's starter against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.Romo is making his third career "sta...
Updated: 5 hours ago