Wednesday, March 29, 2006

How would like that school embroiled: well, medium, or rare?

As promised in this post, Torgo is publishing what is relevant and available from the Nov. 2002 memo from Charlie Rice.

Torgo is pleased to present for the general community excerpts from a letter of Gubernatus Ejectus, Charlie Rice, to Bernard Dobranski and Thomas Monaghan regarding statements he's made concerning issues he foresaw about the upcoming Ave Maria Town.

Today, March 29, 2006, a post appeared on FUMARE that finally releases these comments and the letter in toto. A pdf version of the letter is available at that post, but Torgo will comment on a few excerpts below.

Due to recent public releases about the Town, including early mentions of surprise from Barron Collier when initial comments appeared in the Wall Street Journal last November, it certainly would appear from the outside as if there may have been some unplayed cards in the deck of TM. But nobody in team Torgo knows that for sure, and there is strong sentiment that intially suspected these reactions were ployed in order to generate PR. Team Torgo, including Torgo, is still not sure. However, the letter references agreements between team TM and team Barron Collier that would seem to indicate that nothing was a surprise -- even if this is the case, all of team Torgo can undertand the desire to make a public repositioning at the onslaught.

Nonetheless, comments from the letter are including from as early as November 2002 when Torgo and some members of team Torgo were wee-law professionals.

Rice speaking:
On November 27, 2002, I noted in a memo to the AMSL Board that the projected character of Ave Maria Town (AMT) and its relation to Ave Maria University (AMU) raised serious issues of constitutionality and prudence that ought to be resolved before the AMSL Board considered a possible relocation of AMSL. I have stated that position, to the Board and publicly, several times since 2002.

My stated concern about problems involved in the projected character of AMT and the symbiotic relation between AMT and AMU was well grounded in fact. The Letter of Intent, signed at Ann Arbor on November 18, 2002, by AMU and the Barron Collier Companies (BCC) included the following provisions:

"6. The New Town in its character, ambiance, restricted covenants, zoning, etc. shall allow no public activities which are offensive to traditional Christian values or which might represent a scandal to Catholic and Christian sensibilities. Thus, no topless bars, aboriton clinics, "adult" bookstores or the like shall be permitted...
15. If the University intentionally ceases to be a Catholic universtiy, or intentionally or materially deviates from its stated plan to become a broad-based high quality institution for higher learning and does not correct these defaults after due warning from Collier, then a. university option under para. 10 shall cease. and b. Collier shall have the option to acquire the University's 50% interest in undeveloped lands at the original cost to the university. and c. Collier shall have the option to acquire the University remaining interest in the Partnership at the then current market value."

[extracted. but paragraph says that this letter of intent was a non-binding framework meant to detail the eventual drafting and agreement to a joint venture, which was signed on august 22, 2003. Apparently, Monaghan rejected requests by the AMSL Board to see the final joint venture. Instead an executive sumamry was delivered which did not reference the above language, but did mention the buy-back provisions, one of the triggers was if AMU failed to "use its best efforts to become a Catholic University of national renown." --- Team Torgo notes: best efforts is the highest duty one can agree to thus making it the easiest to breach]

[refer to the original for analysis of solicitations from AMU about becoming a "town for Catholic like you ... with your help, Ave Maria will truly be a city of God!"]

In short, the constitutional and prudential objections to the AMU-AMT project were, and are, solidly grounded, notwithstanding any impression that might be generated by the Monaghan-Marinelli statemetns or other events.

In light of the conceptual uncertainties newly apparent at AMU-AMT it can fairly be regarded as an act of stunning imprudence for you and Tom to ask the Board to reactivate at this time the heretofore dormant Feasibility Study. That action will accelerate the destabilization of AMSL. This is the worst conceivable time to open the door to possible speculation about the relocation of AMSL to the site of the AMU-AMT venture is a done deal.

I know that you and Tom are acting in what you see as the best interests of AMSL. Nothing in this letter implies anything to the contrary with respect to yourselves, Mr. Martinelli or anyone else. I ask you seriously, however, to reconsider the course you have set which I believe is likely to be fatal to the Catholic and academic integrity, if not the very existence, of AMSL.

Torgo could not reiterate the sentiments of the last quoted paragraph in better terms.

The risk-benefit analysis is seen differently, and it's clear that Torgo feels that the side effects of the imposed new administration and move of AMSL are deleterious to a healthy and once vibrant and ascending school.

Torgo hears rumors that the advance sheets indicate that the current ranking of AMSL is far below what original estimates and numbers indicated. Torgo will comment when it is seen in print, however, Torgo's advance opinion is that this drop in numerical stats was caused by the rush to fill as well as the forced diversity selectors despite the fact that the school draws from a non-diverse interest group. Team Torgo is similar in opinion, but adds that the school should have compared interest statistics instead of national statistics.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Good Thing, but with an edge

This past Saturday, Ave Maria Town had Mass celebrated as the cornerstone of the erstwhile-designed tomato hot house, now somewhat more appropriately-designed oratory.
800 people were in attendance...It was also Monaghan’s 69th birthday.

click here for the story in the Naples News.

A good thing. Torgo is always happy to hear about birthday parties and new Churches.

Although, it cannot be called a Church yet:
Ave Maria’s oratory is not considered a church because it’s not part of a parish, and the only sacrament priests can perform is confession.

But there's always an edge to these things:
Monaghan said. “I believe more people will attend Mass at this (chapel) than at any other church in the country.”
“I think there are churches that are bigger when it comes to seats,” Monaghan said. “But this is definitely taller.”

Ambitions aside, this quote was a good one:
Monaghan said. “There will be a Mass morning until night, all day long.”

Torgo cheers that and hopes that at least some of the intentions offered in that Oratory are for the reparation of the harm done to many good people along the path to this venture.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Make More Blogs

Torgo thinks it's time for the AMSOL alumni to each have a blog. Heck, they're free so make two blogs: one for factual reporting, the other for opinion. Maybe even make three, the third being for more information and double posting and cross-linking.

Torgo received these comments from a source that is familiar with the workings of the internerd and serch bots and page ranks:

Be sure to include links to the other blogs in your posts, etc. so that they are cross-linked because google page ranking makes a big deal out of that.

Also, be sure to include search terms, such as "Ave Maria School of Law" or "Ave Maria University" and Naples, FL and Ave Maria Town, Florida and Ann Arbor, Michigan as well as Tom Monaghan or is it Thom Monagham (Torgo gets these names misspelled all the time).

As far as Torgo knows, there is only one other blog that is dedicated to AMSOL/AMSL issues and that is whose amsol.

There are a littering of sites about the college fiasco.

There is another site with AMSOL alumni connections, as well: FUMARE. but FUMARE deals with things eclectic also.

That way, when the inevitible things happen this summer and fall, such as the manufactured problems and the soon-to-occur faculty hits, we can plaster them in cyberspace with opinions and links sowing the world that everyone knew of the farce before it happened.

What's happening in Ann Arbor and Naples is so da*n transparent anyway, so it's not like it should upset anyone that we are here.

Hop to it!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Alumni Association sets up Feasibility Committee

Torgo wants to post this message.

Torgo suggests that even if alumni contact anyone on the feasibility study, they courtesy copy this committee. Seems like a good idea to have all the stuff copied in one place. Torgo also thinks you should courtesy copy the email address sent by the Dean in his message of yesterday or the day before.

Torgo thinks some issues can not be adequately addressed by this type of feasibility study - such issues include: the moral impact on the fine character of the law school by not performing on promises, by inducing whole careers to be formed around the Michigan institution, and by short changing some people monetarily along the way.

There are other things the feasibility study can report upon: the fitness of Mr. Monaghan to force management of the school, given his public history; the track record of misrepresentations made by the college and how such mixed admin will be perceived in a law school; and, whether current administrative procedures (gag orders, intimidation, and tenure threats) provide a portent of future administration and whether these same policies are permanently damaging the school now in order to create a necessity to move.


Dear Alumni,

Dean Dobranski recently announced that Ave Maria School of Law will be updating the Feasibility Study relating to a possible move of the school to Florida. We know you have strong feelings on this matter, and want to be heard and well-represented in this important decision. To that end, your Alumni Association called an emergency meeting today, March 24, to discuss this issue. We formed a Feasibility Study Committee to ensure Alumni have a meaningful role in the process. We want to be a channel for your thoughts and concerns on the move, and all issues relating to it. The Dean has clarified that his call for input today related only to the type of information to be considered in the Feasibility Study and not opinions on the potential move. Still, this Committee welcomes input of any kind on this topic, and we want to be prepared to present your opinions at the proper time. If you prefer to communicate with the Dean directly, please feel free to copy us (or let us know your thoughts independently), as we want to gather and present a complete picture of Alumni opinions on all aspects of this decision.

Our next regular Alumni Association meeting is April 4, and the Committee will be discussing meaningful proposals for how Alumni expect to be involved in the Feasibility Study process and potential move decision. We will present the appropriate items to the Board of Governors and all of those involved in the Feasibility Study and potential move decision. We want your comments and thoughts on this, and will be sending you regular communications to inform you of where the process stands, and how our feedback to the Administration and Board of Directors is received. Please email any of the Committee Members at the addresses below at any time.

Finally, please pray for this process and for Ave Maria School of Law (and all those associated with it) at this critical time. May our Mother guide us every step of the way to the will of Our Lord.
Thank you,

Mark Roh...
Chair, Feasibility Study Committee

Justin Ber... '03-
Thomas Flic... '03-
Peter Man... '03-
Angela Pfi... '04-

Speculation on New Rhetoric: "Problem Faculty?"

Torgo always has Torgo's ear to the ground and sometimes Torgo hears rumblings, other times Torgo hears something in one context that has significance in a different context. Torgo heard some comments in an unrelated discussion that caused some speculation. Apparently, some members of AMSOL administration have begun to refer to so-called problem faculty.

No names, just generalities. A problem faculty would be one the doesn't discharge teaching duties or works against the school. Note the wording: against the school Therein lies the rub. The inference planted with the new rhetoric is that there are faculty participating in some sort of phantasmal sedition. Torgo wonders if somebody's medications need adjusted or if there are stray narcotic fumes wafting about from the Pfizer plant causing delusional rhetoric.

As Torgo understands it, most of the faculty are invested in the school. As such, they'd be working against self interests and future paychecks if they were "problem faculty." Even more intriguing is what this new rhetoric says of the source: being perceived as not towing the line makes one a problem.

The same logic is employed by the mortal sinner who sees the precepts of the Church as being problematic. Perhaps the source of those words needs to reconsider why God puts people where they are. Money does not make one capable of imputing one's self as the object of the charge in the Lord's Prayer, "thy will be done."

Moreover, destroying people who present contrary views or have reservations is consistent with the contraceptive mentality, which seeks to eliminate "problem pregnancies." Alas, even abortion seeks to eliminate inconveniences.

Maybe the ACLU should back off if logic and rhetoric such as this persists. As a personal comment, Torgo is deeply saddened to see people Torgo admired acting with such ignominy.

One More Thing Needed to Complete the Modus Operandi

Torgo has been thinking of the basic elements common to the signature crime.

While not entirely a necessary component in every instance, it does seem that within a short amount of time, a "problem" will be manufactured that makes moving to Florida appear to be a better choice than staying in Michigan. The operative term is "manufactured problems."

The rest of the elements are complete: 1) some new salvation has been made and is being proclaimed to be the next jerusalem; 2) the heart has been hardened to any reasonable plan of how to make it work without harming people involved; 3) the impending destruction to individuals will be caused by the failure to perform reasonably expected performance; and, 4) the destruction of any criticism or people who speak their mind.

There is of course, no legal problem, or at least a terrible burden of proof issue with this method, but the words meant something when uttered, and people relied on them which at least makes a moral duty.

The fool resists this wisdom, however, for it is written, "And it is much better not to vow, than after a vow not to perform the things promised." Yet, broken vows and the consumption of fidelity induced by empty promises seem to be the method used over and over.

For instance, the insistance on the 250-foot tall structure in a plan, and the burying of the adequate land allegedly offered by neighboring Plymouth, Michigan created the slipshod hoodwink to make the allegedly already planned and designed Florida campus "necessary."

Soon, and Torgo would imagine it will be concurrent or near in time with the next phase of off-loading some more of the Board of Governors, there will be some catastrophe. The resolution to the catastrophe will be conveniently located in Florida.

Such deceit. Such malice. Having seen this pattern in the past in so many other endeavors, mark Torgo's words, the dog returns to its vomit. So it is with the powerful man, who grindeth the poor in his machinery.

The narrower path in this is to make two schools of law and after the younger brings forth its maturity, unite them. But the meal of horrors is apparently needed to make glory for the new child.

Makes Torgo wonder if there is any semblance to the Proverb: "Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and shall be filled with their own devices. The turning away of little ones shall kill them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Ouy, I bet they move this one to Carracas

Check out this news story: Ave Maria to take over Nicaraguan college

The operative quote is this:
Once the university takes over, the college expects the curriculum will be streamlined and new programs will be offered, such as a pre-theologate program.

Hmmm. Torgo wonders if that "streamlining" will be anything like the streamlining done to institutions these destroyers got their wretched hands on in Michigan.

Too bad nobody told them the new programs will be offered in another country 4 years from now and that the guts of the acquired will most likely be fleeced and left for dead on the roadside on Mr. Monaghan's ambitions.

Charlie Rice Set Record Straight Again

March 6, 2006 Letter from Charles E. Rice to Dean Bernard Dobranski (look for the post made on March 22)

This is the text of a letter that was obtained from Prof. Charles E. Rice who authorized its republication.

March 6, 2006

Dean Bernard Dobranski
Ave Maria School of Law
3475 Plymouth Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Dear Bernie:

Last December, the Board of Governors approved the two-term limit, as a result of which I ascended to my current title of Gubernator Ejectus. It has since come to my attention that some members of the AMSL community apparently think that the Governors created an Advisory Board and that I am on it. I am sure you will understand my desire to put to rest any such impression that I have any role in the administration of AMSL.

That misunderstanding may arise from the fact that the Board of Governors, at the September 28, 2005, meeting, recommended that members excluded from the Board by the two-term limit "shall be invited" to serve on an Advisory Board to be created. The by-laws, however, were amended at the telephone meeting on December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day, to impose the two-term limit and to provide instead that the Board of Governors "may establish" an Advisory Board which "may include" persons who formerly served as Governors.

I understand that no decision has yet been made on the creation of an Advisory Board. If that Board ever does materialize, I request that I not be considered for membership.

Please do not interpret this request as an unfriendly gesture or as a personal criticism of anyone. I owe you, however, a candid expression of the concerns that prompt me to decline membership on the Advisory Board. Those concerns go beyond the fact that the Advisory Board will have no discernible useful function. One reason I do not want my name associated with the administrative structure of AMSL is that I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that AMSL is now governed, in practical effect and not by design, as if it were a sole proprietorship with yourself as the resident agent and with the Board of Governors in a marginal role. I believe that you, Tom Monaghan, and all others involved, are acting in what you and they see as the best interests of AMSL. In major respects, however, the administration of AMSL has been counterproductive. For example, AMSL's prolonged dalliance with the notion of uprooting AMSL and transporting it to Florida has destabilized AMSL and created the perception that the best interests of AMSL are being subordinated, in effect, to another agenda.

AMSL has a record of unprecedented success and I express my appreciation for your contribution to that success. AMSL has an excellent student body, an exemplary faculty, a dedicated and competent staff and an active, loyal alumni. It is a high privilege for me to serve as a Visiting Professor at AMSL. To destabilize AMSL, however, by holding open the prospect of a move to Ave Maria Town is, in my view, indefensibly imprudent. Please understand. I have nothing against Florida in itself. Some of my best friends are Floridians. But the Ave Maria Town venture is a speculative and eccentric medley of the academic, the religious, the municipal and the corporate in which the bottom-line corporate interest will predictably dominate. I would not want anyone to think that I had any share in any decision to involve AMSL with such an enterprise.

One final point. At the September 28, 2005, meeting of the Board of Governors, I reserved the right to make any statements or disclosures necessary, in my judgment, to prevent misapprehension of my own positions and record as a member of the Board of Governors. In light of the various comments made in discussions over the past several months, it is appropriate for me to exercise that right. So please permit me to say that, if an Advisory Board were created and if I were on it, I would offer as advice the enclosed excerpts from the memo I sent to the Board of Governors on November 27, 2002. Please note especially that nearly four years ago, in that memo, I explicitly brought to the attention of yourself, Tom and the Board of Governors the constitutional problems inherent in what Tom presented as his vision of Ave Maria Town, etc., a vision which, in my opinion, is flawed in many respects.

I disagree with the perceptions and judgments of yourself and Tom Monaghan in significant respects. Those disagreements are on issues and they are not personal. I know we all share a common interest in the success of AMSL and a commitment to persevere in prayer to Mary, its patroness, for that intention.

I am not sending this letter to the AMSL list. I will, however, make it available to interested members of the AMSL community.

With appreciation and best wishes,

Charles E. Rice
Professor Emeritus of Law

[Torgo will publish November 27, 2002 memo as soon as Torgo gets a copy.]

UPDATE 3/29/06: The Nov 27, 2002 memo is contained in excerpts in this post.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Does the force make it God's Will?

Oddly, forcing a situation to have the desired result is more like imposing one's personal will, instead of doing God's will.

Strong-arming faculty into silence, quashing opinion, and making economic threats are really the tactics of Heaven, no?

Perhaps the feasibility study can never measure those things as to what is best for the school.

Alas, it is written that "Hell, and the mouth of the womb, and the earth which is not satisfied with water: and the fire never saith: It is enough. [...] Such is also the way of an adulterous woman, who eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith: I have done no evil." Perhaps, it is not just the adulteress who acts in this way.

Last time I checked, there was no price tag on salvation: it cannot be bought nor can it be made by checking off to-do items --- What doth it avail a fool to have riches, seeing he cannot buy wisdom? He that maketh his house high, seeketh a downfall: and he that refuseth to learn, shall fall into evils.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Talking Points

Torgo has a few talking points to spur the minds of clear thinkers.

1. Is AM Town an insular or engaging community?

2. Has the law school remained an engaging (as opposed to accommodating or insular) entity? (flashback: Dean Dobranski's comments on the school philosophy being an engaging community)

3. Will the feasibility study include consideration factors such as whether the alleged fraud perpetrated by the undergrad on the US Dept of Education will have effects on the law school, or, whether the obvious mismanagement of basic school administration (e.g. - accreditation status being misrepresented) by the undergrad might cause significant problems for the law school?

4. Has the undergrad been an insular, engaging, or accommodating school?

5. Will the feasibility study include determinations on impact to current students and alumni -- especially if the law school goes in a manner consistent with every other Tom Monaghan managed endeavor?

6. Should the feasibility study consider the use of gag terms and the recent threats of tenure changes as bad for the school's future even if it doesn't move?

7. Should alumni and others in the legal community contact feasibility study consultants?

Torgo is deeply interested in your thoughts on these matters and hopes to generate some good discussion.

If the paper isn't worthless yet....

DATE: [unsure, date keeps changing each time file is opened]

At its March 8, 2006 meeting, the Board of Governors discussed the question whether it would be in the best interests of the law school to relocate to the Naples, Florida area.

The first thing to emphasize is that the Board did not make a decision on the ultimate question of relocation. It simply began an evaluation process to gather the kind of information necessary to make a thorough, careful, and well informed decision on what is in the law school’s best interests.

As a first step in this process, the Board authorized an updating and broadening of the 2003 Feasibility Study. To perform that task, the Board has employed Professor James White, from the University of Indiana, Indianapolis, and Professor Frank. T. Read, from the South Texas College of Law. Professors Read and White are two of the most experienced individuals in American legal education. Professor White served for twenty-six years as the Consultant on Legal Education to the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the most important position in legal education. As the Consultant, he oversaw and guided the development of the ABA Standards on Legal Education, during the most critical period in legal education. He also served as a member of the team which conducted the 2003 Feasibility Study. Professor Read not only served as Dean at five different law schools, but also served as Deputy Consultant on Legal Education. He is also a past president of the Law School Admissions Council and past Chairman of the Board of the Law Access Group (legal education’s loan program). In addition, Professor Read served as our Consultant on Accreditation.

In outline, the process will be: Update and broaden the earlier Feasibility Study to provide the Board with all the relevant information necessary for an informed decision. Input will be sought from the faculty, students, staff, and alumni and alumnae. After all the necessary information is gathered, the study will be presented to the Board for its consideration and deliberation. It will also be shared with the Ave Maria Law School Community. If the Board, based on the information available to it, decides that it is not in the best interests of the school to move, the matter ends. On the other hand, if it decides it would be in the school’s best interests to relocate, the matter must then be submitted to the ABA for its acquiescence.

No timetables or timelines for this process have yet been established. I will share that information with you as it becomes available.