Sunday, July 30, 2006

NYT, AmLawyer, and a tiny regret

Torgo has read and is ruminating upon the recent public pieces about our small corner of the world.

See, FUMARE: NEW YORK TIMES REPORTS ON AVE MARIA CONTROVERSY, referring to this piece: NYT, Our Lady of Discord.

WHOSEAMSOL has a post as well.
They also have the American Lawyer piece.

Torgo ruminates the answer to these things, but at first blush, he's glad to see public attention and relatively good introduction pieces for others who may not understand what's going on.

At the same time, Torgo laments that neither piece articulates the problem well, but alludes. This shortcoming makes Torgo desire to post a clarity post that fleshes the issues out better.

Torgo ruminates.

UPDATE: Other papers have picked the story up as follows:

Florida, The Ledger: click here.

North Carolina, Wilmington Morning Star: click here.

France, International Herald Tribune: click here.

The Amherst Times (has pictures, too, for those who read like Torgo reads): click here.

SUBSCRIPTION (but worked for Torgo): Tuscaloosa News: click here.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Managing the underling Yes-Man, King David Style

History gives great examples of leaders and to what became of them based on how they acted. There is always a measuring point, however, between good leaders and evil leaders. Evil leaders cut the heads off of their critics. Good leaders listen to and consider what critics say. Torgo will contrast the style by two examples below, one of an evil leader, Pharaoh, and a good leader, King David.

Many today praise Pharaoh's great works in the sphinx and in the pyramids. On the backs of Israel were some of these great works made. Indeed, when Moses asked for freedom, Pharoah ordered the first born slain. One might say Pharaih was the ultimate autocrat. Indeed, they talk about the monuments, but nobody talks about Pharaoh's wisdom.

King David, one the other hand, is praised as the wisest of kings. He is the penultimate model, next to Jesus. One little story is the best to illustrate the point, however. David is progressing along the road back with some guards along his side. Saul is dead at this point. Following them is Semei, who is throwing stones at David, cursing him as they walk. The guards move in on David's sides. Semei is just going off on David calling him a man of blood and that he usurped his father's kingdom, etc. Eventually, one of the guards draws his sword saying to David, "who is this dead dog who curseth my lord? I shall go and cut off his head!" A perfect yes-man.

Some leaders would let the yes-man do his job. Not King David. David replies, "Let him alone and let him curse: for Yahweh hath bid him to curse David: and who is he that shall dare say, why hath he done so?" David understands the nature of power -- it comes from God. David eventually says, "let him alone that he may curse as the Lord hath bidden him. Perhaps the Lord may look upon my affliction, and the Lord may render me good for the cursing of this day."

David sees his power circumscribed by God. Note David's understanding of his place in society when he asks what it would mean to render responsibility back to God for exercising power and cutting off the guy's head. David understands there is accountability to the Lord for having such power.

The completion of the story is great: "And David and his men with him went by the way. And Semei by the hill's side went over against him, cursing, and casting stones at him, and scattering earth." Semei was going on and on, yet David withheld the hand of his aggravated yes-man guard. (1 Kings 31).

King David had no problem chopping a head off when warranted (when God told him to deliver them from an enemy), however. He slew the Phillistine giant by chopping off his head. (1 Kings 17).

Just to hammer the point in, consider Peter drawing his sword and cutting the temple guard. Jesus rebuked him for such and healed the servant.

Taming the yes man seems to be a consistent quality of our best leaders. Letting them lash out and kill critics is a mark of evil leaders. Indeed, Semei was "Against the mission" of David. Semei thought David should not be king at all.

And yet David did not destroy Semei even though he knew Semei was incorrect.

Imagine how worse it would be for a leader who ordered the smoting of a critic who was correct. For that, Torgo hopes no one he knows will be held accountable, for it surely will be a hefty price.

For a self-study exercise, see FUMARE: MUST READ: The Vision of AMSL's Anointed

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

New Document Explains "Against the Secret Mission"

Torgo analyzed the effect of being called "against the mission" as a phrase below, but didn't really analyze the content. It's telling in many ways, because it means there is a mission to the school that isn't advertised. So, as usual with the speaker of the comment, one can parse what is said, and find the missing word that makes it all make sense. In this case, the missing word is "secret."

In no way could anyone be against the public mission statement of the Ave Maria School of Law. So, that's obviously not what was meant when it was rumored that the Dean allegedly said certain people are "against the mission." Although, as pointed out below, that's what is hoped to be understood by the listener. Against the mission is meant to convey "against all that is moral and good."

Maybe there's another law school, and that hypothetical law school is the one people are against.

Maybe there's a secret law school within the public law school and people are against that mission.

Maybe mission refers to a charitable attempt to aid tomato farmers in southwest Florida.

In reality, if someone can believe those words "againt the mission" while uttering them, they must believe the mission of the secret law school encompasses statements not advertised. Torgo can only surmise what those statements are from the usage of the phrase. But surmise no more, because a loyal whichavemaria reader has sent Torgo the answer.

Torgo was handed a copy of a copy of a copy of a memo below. Note the secret headings and control language.

NEW DOUBLE SECRET MISSION STATEMENT
DOUBLY CONFIDENTIAL

INSTRUCTIONS
*** 1. this document not for public consumption ***
*** 2. anyone against this mission is to be immediately put on DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION ***
*** 3. anyone on DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION is not allowed ordinary cost of living increases ***
*** 4. anyone against this mission is not Catholic and against God and the Pope ***
*** 5. no one wearing denim pants may read this document because they are all on TRIPLE SECRET PROBATION. ***
*** 6. tell no one the content of this document because they might be wearing blue jeans, woman pants, or worse, women in denim pants. ***
*** 7. all persons purporting to adhere to this mission must wear clothing consistent with Thomas Monaghan's rules of attire or they are per se against the mission. ***

CONTENT
Mission the first, this school is now an arm of real estate development.
Mission the second, this school abides all whims of its founder-donor, even if it means closing down and restarting.
Mission the third, this school is a part of a Catholic town concept, but don't tell anyone.
Mission the fourth, this school may or may not stick to its original means because new ends may justify new means.
Mission the fifth, interpret all Holy Church documents to be consistent with these missions.

HEREINAFTER, insert public mission statement interpreted only in so far as it can be consistent with DOUBLE SECRET mission objectives.

So, after Torgo read that copy of a copy of a copy of that document, it becomes clear that indeed, many of us are "against the mission." Against the SECRET mission.

Now, Torgo must go hide in a cave for disseminating this copy of a copy of a copy of this secret document before the DOUBLE SECRET agents find him and make him buy an $11,000 wardrobe.

"Ingrates," "Against the Mission" and Other disparaging Names

Torgo loves to hear some of the monikers passed along to describe alumni response to being force fed the move. Among them are that they are "ingrates"; "trouble makers"; "against the mission"; or worse "automatons of the rebelrousing faculty." There are usually several connotations built in to each name, but the overriding suggestion is the same: these names suggest that the alumni are stupid and malicious.

These monikers are laughable because ad hominem is a fallacy that went out of style in the 80's. People have moved on to more sophisticated fallacies now. They use red herrings and non-responsive answers. However, in order to show the fallacious reasoning of the names used, Torgo shall turn to each and address it exposing the error of reasoning or misunderstanding the slinger must have in order to be convinced of its use.

Ingrates
Among all of the bad names used to make the alumni smell of dung, this name is perhaps Torgo's favorite. To be called an ingrate naturally suggests that the ingrate is violating a principle of charity. Thus, it shifts at least three layers of mess onto the person called ingrate. First, they must overcome the bias implied. Second, they must correct the understanding of why they aren't violating a duty to charity. Third, and only if they are heard to this point, they need to explain the actual situation. Torgo enjoys this name because it is like a dump truck of dung poured upon the alumni from which they may possibly never dig out.

Overcoming bias. The first problem of the name is that there is an immediate presumption in favor of the name caller because they appear to be referring to the gift of the school and monetary support. It therefore implies that the alumni are breaching a duty to support the school. Normally, alumni don't squawk about school administration, so it supplies the motive where a normal listener may not understand why the alumni are distraught. The real motive is therefore buried: the administration is acting beyond the scope of the gift of the school -- doing things outside the mission.

This shift of blame is very clever because it places the name caller on an apparently sure moral ground. It implies that they are acting consistently with past promises and in the expected bounds of performance. The effort of the name-called alumni then is to show that the name caller is neither acting within the scope of reasonable expectation nor acting consistent with a reasonable interpretation of promised performance.

The obvious problem is the length of explanation. A slogan would be better. If Torgo could use the same fallacious ad hominem in response to them, the titles would be:
Indian Givers!
Cheaters!

Trouble Makers
This name is not as strong as "ingrates." While ingrate implies of breach of charity, trouble maker merely suggests mischief. Nonetheless, they are similar because to be called a trouble maker is a sure attack on the motivations of the actor. For the reasons that ingrate works, so does "trouble maker". It implies that the trouble maker is animated by a sense of opposition rather than reason.

The name also bolsters the name caller because it plays on the average person's tendency to impute good faith. Thus, it assumes that the average person will assume the name caller is working within the boundaries of social reasonableness. It's so effective because it obscures any wrongdoing on the name caller's part.

Unless the person called trouble maker has a captive and attentive audience, responding to the name requires an adequate shift of malum in se back to the name caller. Torgo suggests potential slogans as these:
Grandstanding!
"Trouble Making is for name callers, I'm responding to the issues made by your errors in judgment."
Did you think there would be no trouble in announcing that you're closing this school?

Against the Mission
!
This name is par excellance! Torgo has seen several others in the blogosphere immediately recognize the Stalinistic genius of this name. It's just short of calling the object of it "UNCatholic!" Wow! It's like saying, "those people are against the Pope and God!"

Among the many problems associated with this name is that it not only implies some malice to the object, but also some intentional breach of duty. It carries all the connotations of treason, sedition, and back stabbing. In so far as it does this, it's pretty clever and therefore sweet in the mouth. But once in the stomach, the bitter regurgitations make you pity the name caller in this case. Not only must the name caller be delusional, but also quite desperate in order to resort to this tactic. Sadly, the person who uses this name has lost the ability to communicate reasonably with other adults.

Apart from laughing at the name, and saying a Hail Mary under one's breath for the sanity of the name caller, this name require two types of response.

First, when did the mission change? The mission of the law school is to provide law students with good exposure to Catholic principles and teachings and who become well grounded in the elements of the western legal system. Since when is the mission of the school to support Mr. Monaghan's desire to make a Catholic town in a far away state? Since when is the mission of the law school to anchor real estate development? Since when? It's never been those things in any published mission statement of the law school. Never.

Second, the response must point out that it is the addition of these new missions (real estate anchoring and town development) that are hindering the mission of the law school. If these were good motives, then they'd be published in the mission statement. It's that easy.

Automatons of the Rebelrousing Faculty
Torgo is paraphrasing this rumored moniker. It is another pitiable utterance. It implies that the alumni cannot think for themselves. Thus, it implies that the name callers have failed to produce lawyers who can think for themselves. As such, it only shows the delusions of the name caller. The only proper response to this name is to pray for those using it -- they are apparently so desperate as to shoot themselves in the foot for a momentary gain in rhetorical points.

If necessary, ask in reply, "are you implying that I cannot think for myself?"


For More Information about "the mission," see New Document Explains "Against the Secret Mission"

see also, Managing the underling Yes-Man, King David Style

Torgo might update these responses as time progresses and may add more as new names are used, as surely will happen once the September session to cram the new school mission (town development and real estate anchoring) down everyone's throats begins.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Board of Governors should read ABA Standards

Torgo wonders if the Board of Governors realizes that the decrepit dismissal of the faculty's no confidence vote in the Dean may very well have contravened ABA standards on the matter.

Recently, on FUMARE, a post spoke about an action by the MSU faculty to vote no confidence in their Dean. MSU administration was careful to show that they will be working with the faculty to resolve differences. The behavior seems to show an understanding of how ABA accredited law schools must honor faculty governance.

Oddly, AMSOL's faculty was met with indignant indifference. Fortunately, the ABA standards say a few things about this matter. These standards provide an objective measurement against which the Board's performance can be measured.

The Dean should be selected by the faculty. Notice below that the faculty have pivotal role in appointment of the Dean.

Standard 205. DEAN.
[...]
(d) The faculty or a representative body of it shall advise, consult, and make recommendations to the appointing authority in the selection of a dean.

Interpretation 205-1:
The faculty or a representative body of it should have substantial involvement in the selection of a dean. Except in circumstances demonstrating good cause, a dean should not be appointed or reappointed to a new term over the stated objection of a substantial majority of the faculty. (August 1996)

Standard 206. ALLOCATION OF AUTHORITY BETWEEN DEAN AND FACULTY.
The allocation of authority between the dean and the law faculty is a matter for determination by each institution as long as both the dean and the faculty have a significant role in determining educational policy.


More from ABA standards, Chapter 2.

The linked story above noted that the MSU administration took the faculty vote of no confidence with some consideration. The MSU allegations are relatively vague and light fingered (aka, "the Dean is not a team player"). In stark contrast, the Ave Maria vote appeared to have concrete problems of irreconciliable differences. Also, the Ave Board appeared to not care what the faculty said.

Torgo wants to point out that other standards nearby relate to the Board of Governors relationship with the Dean (among them, what is interesting is that the Dean may not be Chairman and the provision for the Dean's placement on the Board is permissive, but not required).

The matter is merely commentable by Torgo from the information that was sent around. Torgo is unaware of the specific charges or evidence the faculty had, but Torgo can surmise much of it.

What is important to note is that the Board's cavalier attitude against the faculty appears to be inconsistent with the ABA standards.

The bottom line: Torgo sees a pattern in these matters that the exclusion of the founding faculty has ushered way to the emergence of a school administration of a character that may likely be other than the one accredited by the ABA.

For more head explosions: Consider how Dean Dobranski has represented himself as being familiar with the ABA standards. Doesn't his position on the Board of Governors then at least impute some knowledge of the standards to the Board?

Monday, July 24, 2006

How to Route Over Stalinist Information-Handling

The title of this post will become apparent near the end. For now, Torgo needs to set the stage. Torgo believes that the mishandled alumni meetings are signs of a future information battle. It is apparent that just as Stalin was so deluded by paranoia to think Germany wasn't invading, so too are Monaghan yes-men so deluded as to think it is a good idea to move the school. Torgo believes that the alumni board should compile a list of letters from alumni for use later in ABA meetings detailing the facts as they occurred.

In a post below, Torgo mentions that the ABA welcomes alumni comments. Torgo would like to clarify this statement as being one not encouraging all manner of editorials to the ABA, but rather a consistent use of the alumni board.

Whatever else the alumni meetings with deans Reed and White were, they were not information gathering on the part of the feasibility study team. They are pretense. The content of the meetings were advertised as "question and answer" sessions and an opportunity to gather comments from the alumni. The reality was quite different. It was spin. One after another, alumni would comment or question and rather than recording, writing or taking in the comment, Reed, White or even O'Bierne immediately retorted, undermined, or dismissed the comment or concern. So much for q+a. There was no answer. The function of the alumni input sections was something other than input, because any input was immediately disregarded.

Torgo has a theory that these people are well intentioned, but misinformed. Think of who pays their paycheck.

There is no doubt, given what Torgo has read about the things Mr. Monaghan has said in his autobiography, Pizza Tiger, that he is a master at making things work out under pretenses. Torgo also remembers Mr. Monaghan being quite proud of his ability to stave off bankers. Not to mention the number of lawsuits franchisees had to file to make a level playing field. There is a history of thinking criticism is only made by ingrates.

The alumni meetings were therefore pretense -- spin doctoring. They are part of the current so-called feasibility study. If the study's stated purpose is as divergent from real purpose as were the alumni sessions, then it is all pretense. Whatever else the new and improved feasibility study is, it is not to make an objective finding to base an objective conclusion.

So why bring this up? If the process is being railroaded, then why make comment when a finger cannot be lifted to change what the study says?

The answer to these questions lies in two principles. First, the alumni have more power to comment than merely through the feasibility study. Second, some sort of external, non-spinnable information source is necessary to counteract the eventual spin that will used to make the alumni process look like it was a legitimate alumni input session.

Many will take umbrage at Torgo's assertions. Most notably, the information handlers will. Others will be those who are looking for a hand out, or think they will get a hand out for toting the line. Still yet others just think it's rebel-rousing and will be futile. Nonsense. Torgo believes we are fighting an information campaign. Not speaking will allow the railroaders to lay the track as if helping everyone. Not speaking allows the pretenses to be real.

You've already seen the people who criticize the move to Florida as being "against the mission" or worse "ingrates." Funny how language like that serves the paranoid. Torgo will now tie in the language and tactics of the Dean to Stalinist errors.

Stalin believed people trying to help him were actually hurting him and "against Russia." So self-convinced of paranoia, Stalin refused to believe that Hitler was invading Russia despite months of warnings. In Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From, Daniel Pipes explains that Stalin was still ordering troops to not fire on germans even eight hours after german invasion in 1941, because Stalin believed Hitler wasn't going to invade. For months, he was told germans were mounting the attack.

Stalin was oblivious. Blinded by his intentional attacks of people around him. Pipes says it is because Stalin was isolated from the real world and believed people around him were conspiracists. The isolation is the key -- Pipes says, "Living in morbid fear of a plot, Stalin restricted himself to the Kremlin and his country house, surrounded himself with guards and yes-men, and became disengaged from reality."

"In Stalin's mind, criticism of him amounted to a conspiracy against him," says Pipes.

Torgo believes the Dean is similarly disillusioned because he is doing what Monaghan has always done. Monaghan seems to surround himself with yes-men and probably believes people who criticize him are in a conspiracy against him. That's the basis of the new language "against the mission."

Disengaged from reality, Dobranski and Monaghan seem to have surrounded themselves with yeah-sayers. Indeed, generally calling alumni mindless automatons of others is a gross disillusionment. Some people have wondered if Monaghan has been engaged in reality ever since he caused his franchisees to sue him to wake up. A wealth-induced coma, perhaps.

This, then, is a battle for correct information. In the driver's seat, we have two people detached from reality who are attempting to keep all "people against them" from speaking. It's not a hard battle, however, because these people are predictable in their paranoia and methods of presentation.

It's all about pretenses for them.

In order to understand why the alumni meetings and the feasibility study were held, we only need to see how the information will be presented to the public and the ABA later. If history is replayed, it will be siphoned to the public that meetings were held to gather alumni sentiment. It will be made to appear as if the alumni wanted it. The whole process will look fair.

Torgo will now turn to what could be done to illuminate the murky underbelly of this mess. Torgo is not going to delve into other similar messes, nor even into other examples of how pretense has been used in the past of the law school. Torgo will simply hope the reader considers that it's not unreasonable to believe the reason that the alumni board cannot was not able to directly contact alumni using email is because information is being controlled and means of communication are throttled. It's not about conclusions -- this game is about silencing people who have ideas other than Monaghan's.

If this game is about silencing, then the communication to the public and outsiders, such as the ABA, cannot be silenced. They can be mislead, however. The external game is played by controlling the input and making a pretty scene once presentations are made to them concerning the move. Thus, a prepared and well thought out presentation by alumni detailing how the game was played is in order.

Preparation is simple. Alumni who were at various "information sessions" and question and answer meetings should send a letter to the President of the alumni board detailing their recollection of those events. Who was there, what they saw, and whether they felt as if there concerns were answered. Send a copy to the Dean if you like, just to be sure he cannot say later that these letters were made-up after the fact. The process is simple: record the facts so there is a record.

Presentation is simple also. The Alumni Board should compile the letters of recollection into a report about the alumni concerns and the impressions about the meetings. Save it for the Board meeting and for the eventual ABA process.

There are several more things Torgo will suggest in some more posts this week.

Torgo would recommend seeing at least one alum's impressions of the meeting here.

So Florida is the hot bed of the future, eh?

Hot Bed it may be, Florida did not get Googled. Ann Arbor got Googled.

And yet, we are told that Florida is where everyone wants to be.

Maybe everyone of a certain age demographic:



And yet, that's why Dobranski and Monaghan cannot figure it out -- they think Florida is a great choice. After all, all of their friends are moving there.


Meanwhile, Google, Nissan, Toyota, Pfizer, and several other tech-makers keep picking the Ann Arbor area.

Oh, Torgo should point out that the news article above appeared in the SAN JOSE Mercury news.

The explicit bottom line: elder law opportunity abounds in Naples.

Uncle Tom's Promise and the ABA Standards for Law School Resources

Torgo has been ruminating a great many things for the past month, and while Torgo is not ready to post a grand post, this mini-post should be an adequate glimpse of what Torgo has been looking into.

Torgo would like to remind everyone that the ABA welcomes alumni contact on many matters (but see related post on this below).

As everyone familiar with the scandal of nonperformance on promises relied upon will know, there was a process through which the law school underwent to become accredited. Many of Torgo's friends and readers will recall various preparation routines, such as the mock interviews and crews of people that would walk through the school. Others may recall the elements discussed in town hall meetings. These elements were things such as the library, facilities, faculty, finances, etc.

Torgo can recall many representations made to groups of interested parties druing these town hall meetings, and to prepare people for the interviews and actual ABA visits. If you think back, you too can remember what was said about the facilities and the financing. Anybody else remember representations about a top-tier school?

Has the money been spent to make a top tier school?

Torgo would now turn your attention to the ABA standards, Chapter 2 on Program resources. Two things are important: 1) the school needs adequate finances for the future (Monaghan promised those for a top tier school in Ann Arbor (see, e.g. Ann Arbor News and Detroit Free Press columns circa 1999, 2000)); and 2) that finances do not interfere with the operation of the school. Look for those requirements here:

Standard 201. RESOURCES FOR PROGRAM.

(a) The present and anticipated financial resources of a law school shall be adequate to sustain a sound program of legal education and accomplish its mission.

(b) A law school shall be so organized and administered that its resources are used to provide a sound program of legal education and to accomplish its mission.

Interpretation 201-1:
A law school does not comply with the Standards if its financial resources are so inadequate as to have a negative and material effect on the education students receive. (August 1996)

Interpretation 201-2:
A law school may not base the compensation paid any person for service to the law school (other than compensation paid a student or associate for reading and correcting papers or similar activity) on the number of persons enrolled in the law school or in any class or on the number of persons applying for admission to or registering in the law school. (August 1996)

ABA Legal Education Standards online


It is well settled and publically known that Mr. Monaghan promised to fund Ave Maria into top tier performance. Torgo is sure this promise formed the basis of reliable anticipated funding for Standard 201a above. Great. AMSOL is accredited. However, now that Monaghan is putting the funds on strings, such as making the move a necessity, are the other standards now implicated? Is this breach of promise for anticipated funds materially significant for 201a?

Torgo believes the reader should look again at Interpretation 201-1, above. It seems to be protecting against somebody like Mr. Monaghan bullying the school through threats of withdrawn funding. In other words, because it is well understood that Monaghan is now (at this time) making money contingent on a move, is that not already jeopardizing the law school mission?

Torgo wonders if the mere threat Monaghan made in 2003 (by showing pictures of the Florida based law school in the library around mid-May or so -- Torgo remembers seeing the set-up being made) of moving the law school, coupled with the history of Monaghan's destruction of his own endeavors, was enough to prevent accreditation in the first place. But now, with the threat and the pretenses being built as we speak (does anybody in their right mind believe that Deans Reed and White took any notes at the DC alumni meeting?), has the standard of resources been breached?

Torgo awaits comment.

See Related Posts:
* Similar analysis of Board of Governor indifference to faculty No Confidence vote, see Board of Governors should read ABA Standards.

* Torgo explains why he thinks Alumni Board should be prepared to counteract how they will be presented in the future, see How to Route Over Stalinist Information-Handling

* Torgo responds to the name calling, see "Ingrates," "Against the Mission" and Other disparaging Names

* BREAKING NEWS! New Document Explains "Against the Secret Mission"

Historical Posts that foresaw this moment:
AUGUST 2004: Timeline: Whatever Happened to Making Ann Arbor Famous for Conservative Catholicism?