CLEARWATER (FOX 13) - Elected officials in Clearwater, including Mayor George Cretekos, are being asked about transparency in government after they attended closed-door meetings with the Church of Scientology's top official, David Miscavige Tuesday.
Miscavage arranged several closed-door meetings with a handful of elected officials in Clearwater, who told FOX 13 News the church wanted to discuss real estate development in the Cleveland Street District.
The church continues to buy real estate and were said to have asked city leaders about how to redevelop and beautify the area.
Mayor Cretekos said the church is also interested in a vacant lot by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and next to city hall.
“They don’t really have any specific plans of any businesses that would be relocated down here,” Cretekos told FOX 13 News. “We just bounced around some ideas.”
Monday’s meetings are controversial because, by meeting one-on-one with the mayor and city council members, the church avoids Florida's Sunshine Laws, which require government meetings to be held in public and allow them to be recorded.
Doreen Caudell is the only council member who declined to meet with the church, and said she feels these meetings should be open.
“I’m not uncomfortable, but I encourage them to be more forthcoming to the public,” Caudell said.
Mayor Cretkeos defended Monday’s meeting, saying it was merely a preliminary discussion.
A phone call and email to the Church of Scientology was not returned late Tuesday.