Gabe Cazares: Wikis


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Gabriel "Gabe" Cazares

Gabe Cazares at rally. Placard reads: SOS Save Sparkling Clearwater

In office
1975 – 1978
Preceded by H. Everett Hougen
Succeeded by Charles F. LeCher
Constituency Clearwater, Florida

County Commissioner
In office
1980 – 1984
Succeeded by George Greer
Constituency Pinellas County, Florida

Born January 31, 1920(1920-01-31)
Alpine, Texas
Died September 29, 2006 (aged 86)
Clearwater, Florida
Political party Democratic

Gabriel "Gabe" Cazares (1920-2006) was the former mayor of Clearwater, Florida, a former Pinellas County commissioner, a civil rights advocate, and a noted critic of the Church of Scientology. He died September 29, 2006 in Clearwater at the age of 86.[1]


Early history

Gabriel "Gabe" Cazares was born to Mexican parents on 31 January 1920, in Alpine, Texas, as one of nine children. His family moved to Los Angeles, where he worked in the Civilian Conservation Corps. He attended Los Angeles City College on a track scholarship, where he set a record for the junior college 2-mile run which stood for 11 years. He also attended Fresno State College and Texas Christian University, were he earned his bachelor of arts degree in sociology, and the University of Maryland, College Park. He received his master's degree in business management from Jackson College in Honolulu, Hawaii. Much of his college work was complete while he was in the military. He joined the Army Air Forces in 1941 after the attacks on Pearl Harbor and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Political career

Cazares retired from military service in 1966 to become a stockbroker. He moved to Clearwater, Florida soon afterwards.

In 1975, Cazares was elected mayor. His resounding victory was noteworthy because he was a Democrat and an ethnic minority in a largely Republican city then home to few Hispanics. He twice ran unsuccessfully for Congress, in 1976 against U.S. Rep. C. W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, and in 1986 against Rep. Mike Bilirakis, R-Tarpon Springs.

Cazares resigned as mayor in 1978, but was elected county commissioner in 1980. He held that post until Republican George Greer defeated him in 1984. Greer would later receive national attention as the judge in the controversial Terri Schiavo case.

His 1998 complaint that Taco Bell's television advertisements featuring a Spanish speaking Chihuahua dog were offensive and demeaning to Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, gained attention in the newspapers.

In 2005 he criticized CNN for cutting away from Florida Governor Jeb Bush's speech just as he began to repeat a warning about Hurricane Wilma in Spanish - after the warning in English. Cazares called it dangerously insensitive to Florida's large Spanish speaking population.

Critic of Scientology

Investigates church

Cazares became an outspoken critic of Scientology after the church decided in 1975 to move major operations into Clearwater (from ships that moved around in the Mediterranean Sea and later the Caribbean). Cazares was suspicious of the group, who were purchasing property under the assumed name "United Churches of Florida." The "United Churches of Florida" leaders told Cazares that they were an ecumenical group that planned to improve the ethics and morality in the Clearwater area, but Cazares wondered why church folks from a "den of iniquity" like Los Angeles, California would travel all the way to Florida to provide Clearwater with moral guidance. Cazares began to investigate the United Churches of Florida and soon discovered that the leaders of the group lied about their intentions. They told Cazares they were renting the historic Fort Harrison Hotel from a group called Southern Land Development Leasing Corporation. Cazares investigated both groups and discovered that both were wholly controlled by Scientologists.

Sued by Church of Scientology

Cazares was sued by the Church of Scientology for $1 million after he said that the city was being taken over. Cazares termed the alleged takeover "the occupation of Clearwater." Cazares' suspicions about the group were confirmed by a number of newspapers. On 3 November 1979, the Clearwater Sun ran an article with the headline "Scientologists plot city takeover" and later stories claimed that the Scientologists also had international plans to take over the world.[2] The St. Petersburg Times even won a Pulitzer Prize for one of their stories that exposed the alleged criminal wrongdoings of the Church of Scientology.[3] A 1977 FBI raid on Scientology headquarters uncovered internal Church of Scientology documents marked "Top Secret" that referred to their secret operation to take over Clearwater as "Project Normandy." The FBI also uncovered information about "Operation Freakout," an operation intended to get Scientology critic Paulette Cooper locked up into a mental hospital. And the raid also revealed information about an "Operation Snow White," wherein the Church of Scientology made plans to infiltrate numerous federal and state government offices with the stated purpose of stealing documents that could reflect negatively on L. Ron Hubbard, or the Church of Scientology. The raid eventually resulted in 11 top leaders of the church in jail. Cazares found it odd that a religious group would resort to using code names for a project to take control of a town, and called the project a "paramilitary operation by a terrorist group."[4]

Endures harassment

As a result of his questioning, the Church of Scientology made plans to smear him with sex allegations and a phony hit-and-run accident.[5] Cazares questioned the church's motives, its purchases of downtown property using fictitious names, and the way its security guards carried Billy clubs and mace.[1] At the Church of Scientology, federal investigators found internal memos outlining plans by church leaders to control public opinion in Clearwater, concoct a sex smear campaign against Mr. Cazares and infiltrate the local media and other institutions called the "Mayor Cazares Handling Project"[6] and "Speedy Gonzalez."[7] These Scientology documents also revealed that church members had staged a phony hit-and-run accident with Mr. Cazares in an attempt to discredit him.[1]

As a result of the harassment Cazares and his wife sued the Church of Scientology for $1.5 million. The church decided against a public trial and instead opted to settle with Cazares in 1986. It was one of several suits between Mr. Cazares and the church over the years.[1]

External links


Political offices
Preceded by
H. Everett Hougen
Mayor of Clearwater, Florida
1975 – 1978
Succeeded by
Charles F. LeCher
Preceded by
County Commissioner, Pinellas County, Florida
1980 – 1984
Succeeded by
George Greer

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