Judge Penick: Scientology and Free Speech
by Wes Fager (c) 2003
Furniture and Straight, Inc. are not the only organizations in Pinellas
County that people have complained about. A few years ago agents from
the Church of Scientology's secret Guardian Office purposefully
tried to set up Clearwater Mayor Gabe Cazares in a bizarre hit and run
accident. In another foiled intelligence operation demonstrating that
church's outrageous behaviors Scientology operatives tried to to
the husband of St. Petersburg Times reporter Bette Orsini when he was
head of Easter Seals in Pinellas County because Mrs. Orsini had investigated
the church's bizarre activities. It is because of operations like those
and hundreds of others around the world that I did a solo
protest of the church's naval headquarters on July 27.
Judge Walt "gag order" Logan was just an attorney when he represented Gabe Cazares in another ploy by the Church of Scientology, so I called Gabe Cazares in preparation for this report. All these years later he has nothing but praise for Walt Logan. But times are different in Pinellas County, Florida. Eckerd, Sembler Company, Kane's Furniture and the Church of Scientology are amongst the biggest financial power brokers in the county, forces that must be listened to. In downtown Clearwater where the church maintains its fleet headquarters in the Fort Benjamin Harrison Hotel church security forces wear uniforms that are almost indistinguishable from Clearwater Police Officers'. Maybe that helps the police when they don't have time to change into their Scientology security force roles. Under an arrangement sanctioned by Clearwater Police Chief Sid Klein the church pays for two uniformed police officers to work eight half-hour shifts 365 days a year. So far the church has paid nearly $150,000 for the protection to 110 officers. The church pays the Police Department $2.50 an hour to cover fees and workers' compensation. Recently a circuit judge passed a sweeping order limiting the rights of protesters like myself who pilgrimage to Clearwater to protest the Church of Scientology. One limit had been suggested by Chief Klein to make protesters give the police an hours notice before conducting a protest. Perhaps this gives the Police time to tip off the church they now work for.
The judge issuing the limited gag to Scientology protesters? It is none other than Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court Judge Thomas E. Pineck, the judge who issued the permanent injunction against Manny Gonzalez to stop telling about problems with Kane's Furniture. Penick issued an injunction November 30, 2000 to designate areas where people can protest and to make Scientologists and protesters stay 10 feet apart from one another.
Judge Penick fined former church critic Bob Minton $500 for protesting in a no protest zone. That has discouraged further protests. Also there have been injunctions issued against specific protesters. If anyone has data on those injunctions please contact Wes Fager.