December 28, 1979
Chamber of Commerce denounces
by Fran Richardson
CLEARWATER – The
Greater Clearwater Chamber of Commerce officially opposed the Church of
Scientology Thursday, when its board of governors denounced the
Scientologists’ presence and called for investigations by government
With only two
members dissenting, the 20 board members at the meeting passed a
resolution prepared by an executive subcommittee and presented by former
president David Korones. The resolution states that chamber members
"feel that the presence of the Church of Scientology is harmful to
the overall image of our city, and that its past performances locally
and nationally is cause for investigation by grand juries, Congress and
other appropriate agencies."
The board said it
approved the resolution because the Scientologists:
their identity when moving into Clearwater.
· Intended to
take control of the city.
numerous covert activities verified by Washington documents and
recent court convictions of nine cult members.
local government agencies, businesses, the news media and the
with the free election process by "viciously slandering the
former mayor of Clearwater (Gabe Cazares)."
· Plotted to
destroy the reputation of community leaders.
concluded, "This group is hindering further business, professional
and community growth, and we appeal for appropriate investigative action
and prosecution by all law enforcement bodies… We recognize the right
of any organization to live and coexist in our community as long as that
organization is law-abiding.
released by the federal court in Washington show that Scientologists are
not law-abiding… We believe they should not be welcome to remain
strong stand, board members urged residents to remain peaceful and to
support governmental agencies rather than take a vigilante approach.
followed lengthy discussion by board members. Jim Gray of the Visitors
Bureau and Don Lindsay of the Downtown Clearwater Association cast the
two dissenting votes.
"We are four
years or better too late in this action," Gray said. "It’s
counterproductive. Business downtown is suffering because of a climate
of hate and hostility when in fact there is less crime downtown today
than ever before."
He asserted that
because Mike Wallace of "60 Minutes" had been in Clearwater,
the city would receive "a black eye, a bloody nose and a tarnished
image that will be a threat to downtown and to the tourist industry…
If we could sit down with (Emperor) Hirohito after World War II, we
should be able to sit down with the kids over there."
countered Gray’s comments by saying the chamber was not too late in
could be done until the facts were presented," Carly said.
"Until the Washington documents, we didn’t know what the issue
was all about."
director of public affairs for the Scientologists, received a copy of
the resolution and responded:
"We are sorry
to see that the chamber, rather than attempt to revolve the problems
through dialog, has listened to a few who would rather keep the pots of
turmoil brewing. The goals of these few appear to be to keep emotion
high about events which occurred over four years ago and stir continued
thing that is hurting the city of Clearwater currently is the actions of
a few who continue to feed fuel to the fire.
admirable that the chamber has called for the citizens of Clearwater to
remain peaceful and not violate the individual rights of Scientologists
who call this city their home."
Wolfe said the
chamber’s action would not affect Scientologists’ "New
Clearwater for the 80’s" plans, and he predicted the cult would
continue to seek a dialog with members of the community.