This is a report of a very recent visit to Scientology Phoenix Org by someone I knew in the CMO and SO. Frankly, he gives them a lot more benefit of the doubt than I may have, but still, if this is an Ideal Org and this is how David Miscavige plans to “clear the planet” the proverbial snowball in hell is great odds by comparison. Mike Rinder
Personally wanting to see what an ideal org looks like, I decided to visit Phoenix org. I haven’t been in an org since leaving the CMO and the SO in 1990, before the conception of the ideal org campaign. Back then, the push was St. Hill Size. Period. Having watched the evolution of defectors, along with the subsequent blogs and media coverage, I’ve been curious to see the expansion, or lack thereof, myself. Obviously, visiting one org may or may not be indicative of the whole, but, it is a start.
As for my visit to Phx org, let me start off by saying this: the ONLY thing I found to be close to ideal is the building itself. And, even there exists a departure from the ideal scene: HCO is in a different building from the rest of the org. Now, maybe that’s not a huge deal, but my thought on this is: if you’re going to spend a boatload of parishioner’s money on what should be ideal, shouldn’t you find a building that is truly ideal? It would be one thing if every other aspect of the building (location, visibility, etc) were ideal and that was the only departure, but that’s not the case.
First of all, if it wasn’t for my GPS, I would have had a difficult time locating the org. Even with my GPS, I passed the building, as when I was getting close I started looking for signage. I didn’t see any, passed the building and turned around, only to then see a small sandwich board type sign that welcomed everyone to come in for either a stress test or personality test. There is a Church of Scientology sign in front of the building, but it’s not visible unless you are looking directly at the building, which is difficult when you are driving, and it is small enough to be fairly easily missed. The sign would be sufficient, I suppose, if one were walking past the building. However, the building is in an extremely residential area with little to no foot traffic. To the best of my knowledge, the neighborhood is middle to upper middle class…the western most part of the Arcadia neighborhood, for anyone familiar with the Phoenix area. And, while the yards are beautiful, there is no bustling of activity around the org whatsoever.
I took a picture of the building from the parking lot with a similar perspective to the photo taken when the org was dedicated as an ideal org (which I pulled from the org’s website). The first thing I observed was a dearth of cars in the parking lot. My first thought was, well, it is Sunday morning, which, in my experience, is a typically slow time for all orgs. However, as will become apparent as you continue reading this, the vast majority of these cars very likely belonged to the staff.
I entered the reception area around 11:30 am and told the receptionist that I had been public in England and was in the process of moving to Tucson and that I understood Phoenix was my closest org and that I would like a tour. The receptionist told me that Sunday service was going on and that as soon as it was over, which would be within 10 minutes, someone would be able to give me a tour. I was then pointed towards the huge Div 6 new public area and was told I could wait there and look around.
The Div 6 area reminds me of a high tech modern museum with numerous high def TVs, each of which, I believe, will play intro movies for new public. It was very clean and well kept, although most of the overhead and display lights were off and the TVs were off…just as I noticed that, a staff member came into the space and started turning on the TVs and lights while complaining that someone else was supposed to have done that first thing in the morning and that he didn’t know why it hadn’t been done.
There were absolutely no public in the space, which added to the whole quiet museum vibe.
Tucked away into one of the corners of that space is the LRH office. Now, correct me if I’m wrong (remember, it’s been 23 years since I left the SO), but I believe LRH’s office is supposed to be more centrally/prominently located in the org. In any event, it was a nice office, clean, well furnished – just not a prominent focus point of the building.
I milled around for a few minutes until a staff member approached me (I will not give his/her name nor post, as I do not want any specific individual to be harassed or put through any kind of ethics handling when this write up gets viewed by Scientology management – but I will refer to the staff member, for the sake of simplicity, as a “he.”) and introduced himself. I again gave my shore story and he said he’d be very happy to give me a tour.
He was quick to point out that there had been a huge event the night before – he called it an alliance event. Now, having read about alliance events on this blog, I was familiar with the concept, but I played dumb. He was very proud that Phoenix org hosted the event (he said that Phx hosted because it is an ideal org and the largest of the three orgs), comprised of Phoenix, Las Vegas orgs and Albuquerque org. I asked what the purpose was and he said it was to raise money so that Albuquerque org could become an ideal org. He said they raised $275,000 at the event. I just acknowledged this, though I was and am very skeptical of this amount, given the small size of the Phx org – and, if it truly is the largest of the orgs in this alliance, what does that say about the size of Albuquerque and LV?
It appears that Class V orgs (I am assuming that’s what they are still called) now have uniforms (or, maybe it’s just ideal orgs?). Blue pants/skirts and white shirts for the ladies. Blue pants, white shirts and a tie for the men. Most of the women looked pretty disheveled. Not one of the men had buttoned their collar nor properly knotted and tightened their ties. Maybe the shirts aren’t the right size?
I asked and was told there are about 60 staff total. My guide told me that there are roughly 35 day staff and 25 foundation staff, which led me to believe that Phoenix org had been divided into two orgs, day and foundation. He was most proud of the fact that there was a full time nanny to care for the staffs’ kids and public kids.
When we walked past the two org boards (one for day and one for foundation), I did not see evidence of nearly that many staff. Now, to be fair, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time looking at the org boards and counting staff and it is certainly possible that they hadn’t printed and posted the dymo tapes for each staff member, but I only observed roughly 10 staff members at the org during my tour, which included every space with the exception of HCO.
The org furnishings remind me of Ikea. I’m not saying they are from Ikea, but they are Spartan modern. Regardless of taste for style (I personally don’t care for the Ikea look), the most noticeable aspect was that the furnishings look new and unused (the org was declared “ideal” in July 2012, so there’s been 9 months to use the furnishings) and almost as if they were just there for show – you know, how someone will put furniture in an empty house that is for sale to try to make it look lived in.
There were 3-4 public in the main Academy course room. I am not sure how many were Div 6 public and how many were Div 4 public, as I was told that the Div 6 supervisor is double hatted as the Purif I/C, so when there are people on the purif during Foundation, they are put in with the Div 4 public in the Academy. (Side note: If there were really 25 Fdn staff, wouldn’t those two delivery posts be single hatted?)
I was told there were two HGC sessions in progress, but I did not see anyone in the HGC at all – staff or public. The empty auditing rooms that I did see looked like they were never used. I believe there was someone on the purif, as there was a staff member in the purif area when we walked through, but they must have been in the sauna. I was also told there were 4 people enrolled in the intro Dianetics Seminar for the weekend. I did not see them.
Sunday Service was going on when I got there. We went through the chapel right after it ended….it appeared there were 4-5 public and as many staff attending the Sunday Service.
When we walked through a somewhat narrow hallway, there was an OIC board and I looked at some of the stats….it was hard to read them as the print outs looked like they were using an old ribbon printer that needed a new ribbon. The GI seems to be about $2-4000 per week and VSD about $4000 per week. FHS was zero. I could have memorized more stats, I suppose, but I was really taken aback by the fact that I could not find any separate stats for Day and Fdn, though there were separate org boards for Day and Fdn. I asked my guide if the stats were a combination of Day and Fdn and he admitted that to be the case, quickly telling me that they just don’t produce enough to separate the stats but they will be able to one day. (In the past few days, I had a conversation with a couple of former CLO WUS execs who told me that Phoenix was always just been a single, full-time org. As I’ve dug through my memory, I seem to recall that that’s the case. What doesn’t add up, however, is why there are two org boards…I don’t seem to recall any policies or advices that prescribe staffing a day and a fdn when the org is a single org. But, then again, maybe I have an MU. On the other hand, I do know for sure that combining a Day and Foundation org into one org is a Suppressive Act, as laid out by LRH. So, if the orgs were separated out at one time and now have been combined….well, you get the picture.)
I do know one thing for sure: when I was in the CMO in the 1980s, I had significant familiarity with WUS Class 5 orgs and their stats. Phoenix org was certainly no smaller then than it is now. And, in fact, I believe it was somewhat bigger – at least on the basis of GI and VSD. One thing is for sure: there’s been virtually NO expansion in Phoenix and, quite likely, a significant contraction. This is despite the fact that Phoenix’s population has grown by 50% since 1990.
I was introduced to a staff member who told me she’d been on staff for 2 ½ years and was very excited that she was going to get to start on the Bridge, as she was starting the purif next week. Wow. 2 ½ years on staff and not yet on the Bridge?
My guide was really excited about the new building and how it had contributed to their expansion. He said that before July 2012, they only had 14 staff and were in an office building in the downtown area of Phoenix. He told me about the history of their interest in the building over the years and how their dream of being able to be in this building became a reality during the recent real estate bubble crash. There was a lot of pride in the building … I actually heard more about the building than I did about any kind of services success. Just goes to show the old adage is correct: you get what you push.
No one ever asked me for my last name, asked for an address or for any kind of contact information. As I was leaving, my guide did ask if I had signed their guest book and entered my information. I said that I hadn’t, but that I planned to be back the following week on Saturday (which was my intention, though I did not end up making it back to the org). With that, I left.
As I was driving away, I felt a reflective sadness. This Phoenix “ideal org” is anything but ideal, yet, at least from my guide, the impression I got was that they think they are ideal because they have a nice building. Granted, this was but one visit on a Sunday morning to a single org, but if this is any indication (and, from the other reports I see on this blog, I believe it is) of the broader scene, there is no expansion going on except, possibly, church coffers AKA SOR (Sea Org Reserves) through Miscavige’s real estate acquisition plan and IAS scams.