Editor's Note: This column about Clearwater's Primary Colors was written by Anonymous Jr. I will emphatically deny writing it until somebody analyzes the notes and determines this piece of bad fiction was written by a left-handed, transplanted Hoosier _ or until I am paid zillions of dollars for the paperback rights.
After hours of intellectual debate about summer fashions and the future of downtown Clearwater, the City Commission decided in a super-secret meeting to spend whatever it takes to help thousands of Church of Scientology staff members blend in with the five other people who regularly shop downtown.
"This ranks right up there with the Harborview Center and turning half the city into a lake in terms of brilliant brainstorms for revitalizing downtown," Mayor Rita Garvey gushed. "Why, we expect to sell seven more cucumbers at our Saturday farmers' market now that this enormous issue is settled."
Outside, hundreds of Scientologists cheered wildly at the news that they no longer will be wearing boring blue uniforms or asked for directions to the nearest Coast Guard cutter. Many shed their blue vests and giddily tossed them into the air, singing, "We're gonna make it after all!"
CNN's Wolf Blitzer reported from the scene about the international impact of the decision. He immediately sought to line up an exclusive interview with one of the five people shopping in downtown Clearwater who are not Scientologists.
As word of the end of the crisis spread, legislatures in Indiana, Illinois and Ohio repealed laws that have prevented their residents from visiting downtown Clearwater because of the uniforms. Thousands of Midwesterners are expected to jam Cleveland Street this week, where they can buy a Harley, shop for fly-fishing equipment or practice their parallel parking.
Former Commissioner Fred Thomas attended the commission meeting and took credit for the uniform change. With the uniform crisis over, Thomas wants the city to bid for the 2007 Summer Olympics. He envisions the opening and closing ceremonies to be on the third floor of the Harborview Center, with gymnastics, boxing and table tennis competition on the first floor. Stein Mart will remain on the second floor. However, there is concern that 11 years may not be enough time to finish construction on the first-floor deli.
"Harborview is truly a cash cow for the city!" Thomas crowed.
While Clearwater officials expect the downtown lake to be ready for the synchronized swimming competition, it is uncertain whether the Travel Lodge on Cleveland Street is big enough for the Olympic village. In a side deal, the city has hired the Church of Scientology on a no-bid contract to consult on how to fit 1,239 athletes in each motel room.
What the new Scientology uniforms will look like remains unclear. Scientologists insist that they maintain a nautical theme, but they refused to dress as pirates unless the city also buys Captain Memo's Pirate Ship and donates it to the church. Thomas lobbied for a more traditional look that would be cooler in the summer.
"What's wrong with black knee socks, walking shorts and white T-shirts?" he demanded.
Citing existing city ordinances and the need to maintain a family atmosphere, commissioners refused to even consider T-back bathing suits as an option.
Commissioner Bob Clark was particularly concerned about the cost of new uniforms, declaring that the city cannot spend money as freely as it did when Thomas was in office. "I say let the Scientologists keep their uniforms, and let's buy matching outfits for the other five people who shop in downtown Clearwater," Clark said. "That way everyone will blend in."
Regardless of the design, the uniforms will have to be durable. City commissioners want the uniforms to last for the length of the billion-year contracts signed by the Church of Scientology's staff members.
"This is the last time I want to deal with uniforms," said Commissioner J. B. Johnson. "But I still want to know what happened to that $350,000 earmarked for a Harborview restaurant."
Because of the urgency of the uniform crisis, city staffers persuaded commissioners to use the design-build concept for the project because it worked so well for Harborview and the city services complex. That way, designers can create the outfits without wasting time worrying about the cost to taxpayers.
"We will be able to get Armani-type clothing for the cost of blue jeans," City Manager Betty Deptula promised. But she warned that she may have to come back to the commission for more money if the Scientologists insist on shirts with buttons and collars.
"Just as long as they aren't wearing those Jim Warner for Mayor buttons anymore," said Garvey.
Deptula persuaded the commission to give the no-bid uniform contract to architect Dean Rowe. Although Rowe has no experience with clothing, the city manager reasoned that he already is working on Harborview and the city services complex.
The cost of the uniforms may run into the millions, but city commissioners say it will come from the Penny for Pinellas if voters extend that tax next year. Even if the tax is rejected, they vow not to raise property taxes to pay for the new threads.
"We'll just mow the grass in the parks once every few years," Deptula said, "and the lines at the library will stretch for no more than a mile or two."