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.


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