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March 17, 2012 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Tom Monaghan had a dream: To create a law school and surrounding community that would adhere strictly to Catholic values. Things have not gone according to plan. posted by reenum (102 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm guessing that pizza crust is also stuffed with fear and intimidation.
posted by Fizz at 10:43 AM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nothing a few public burnings wouldn't sort out.
posted by philip-random at 10:46 AM on March 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


I seem to recall one of my BarBri classes being held out at the Ave Maria campus, bizarrely enough. I went in expecting everything to smell of incense and pizza sauce and left disappointed.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:50 AM on March 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


There were crucifixes everywhere, though.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:51 AM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I take it anyone who wants a build a utopian planned community has never read about what happens to utopian planned communities?
posted by The Whelk at 10:53 AM on March 17, 2012 [28 favorites]


So I take it anyone who wants a build a utopian planned community has never read about what happens to utopian planned communities?

What happens.
posted by Fizz at 10:59 AM on March 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: I went in expecting everything to smell of incense and pizza sauce and left disappointed.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:02 AM on March 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


I was offered a full ride to Ave Maria Law which I was sorely tempted to take because I really wanted to stay in Ann Arbor.

This was when the college had already -- and controversially -- moved down to Florida and I asked what the long-term plans for the law school were. The school was only provisionally accredited by the ABA at that time. The Admissions person I was speaking with told me -- and this is my best recollection of her exact words: "Nobody has asked me that question before. I think that we are just focusing on getting our full accreditation and we don't really have a plan for after that."

It was clear from her response that either they wouldn't share the plan or they didn't have one. Either way I smelled a rat. I have a lot of regrets about law school but not going to Ave Maria was one of my better decisions.
posted by gauche at 11:04 AM on March 17, 2012 [16 favorites]


If this weren't a Nationally Sanctioned Religion, this would be called a cult compound instead of a planned community.
posted by cmoj at 11:06 AM on March 17, 2012 [50 favorites]


They told me I was mad for building a castle in a swamp.
posted by flabdablet at 11:15 AM on March 17, 2012 [32 favorites]


'...Republican Collier County commissioner suspects that the company — via its control of the Ave Maria Stewardship Community District — is siphoning money from other parts of the county...."If a business wants to make a profit, great. That's the American way. But you can't do it at the expense of the public."'

This commissioner is incredibly naive about how government works in the US. Making profit at the expense of the public is practically a plank of the national Republican party these days.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 11:17 AM on March 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


Godfather's
Domino's

Papa John's

Ah, I can still eat without contributing to religious zealots. If you know otherwise, please keep this to yourself.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:19 AM on March 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Godfather's
Domino's

Papa John's

Ah, I can still eat without contributing to religious zealots. If you know otherwise, please keep this to yourself.
In 1983, John Schnatter (CEO) sold his 1971 Camaro Z28 for $2,800 to help finance the family business. On August 26, 2009, he repurchased it for $250,000. In celebration, Papa John's offered a free pizza to anyone who owned a Camaro.
Sounds like a cool guy to me.
posted by Fizz at 11:27 AM on March 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


And here I thought the worst of Ave Maria's malfeasance was conferring a J.D. upon Andrew Shirvell, who lost his job with the Michigan Attorney General's office after conducting a campaign of stalking and harassment against the first openly gay president of the University of Michigan student body.

One of my knitting buddies is a lawyer who earned her J.D. at Michigan State University. Her reaction to the Shirvell/U of M mishegoss was "Of course this asshole went to Ave Maria. Of course."
posted by bakerina at 11:27 AM on March 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


cjorgensen: no matter where you live, there's almost certainly an independent pizzeria close to you. Why not support that and keep your money closer to your community?

(And Domino's is no longer owned by Monaghan, anyway...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:30 AM on March 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


We've had several hundred years to see how this arrangement doesn't work out (given our base and unavoidable animal nature) and yet...
posted by Slackermagee at 11:33 AM on March 17, 2012


I suspect Monaghan's fantasy is the fantasy of many of the right-wing ultra-rich:
He uses the word normal like a bullet point: "This is a very normal place, with normal students." But moments later, he admits Ave Maria is anything but ordinary. "This is a very unique arrangement here. It's almost like what you would see in medieval times when a baron would go and build himself a church and monastery."
posted by jamjam at 11:34 AM on March 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


cjorgensen: no matter where you live, there's almost certainly an independent pizzeria close to you.

I try them. We have three. I like one, but they are all fancy goat cheese and tofu and stuff. They are good on occasion, but nothing that I want to eat weekly. Also, none of the indies deliver. I am fond of my couch.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:36 AM on March 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


Ah, I can still eat without contributing to religious zealots.

Yeah, too bad you can't get pizza at Papa John's though.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:39 AM on March 17, 2012 [12 favorites]


A crass, megalomaniacal, pizza man who is a religious zealot starts a university with his bucks. I'm surprised people didn't see this coming.

Merchants are good at one thing: making money. Unfortunately, people who can make lots of money assume they are great at other things.

That assumption results in some great comedy, or in this case, tragedy.
posted by jayder at 11:41 AM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


So I take it anyone who wants a build a utopian planned community has never read about what happens to utopian planned communities?

Timeless furniture?
posted by kenko at 11:45 AM on March 17, 2012 [33 favorites]


"This is a very unique arrangement here. It's almost like what you would see in medieval times when a baron would go and build himself a church and monastery."

Because that's obviously an arrangement that needed reviving...
posted by kaibutsu at 11:45 AM on March 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


A Florida land deal goes bad?!?!

WHO COULD'VE EVER SEEN THAT COMING

This is a damn shame. There are plenty of Catholic charities doing good work in bad circumstances who could've used Tom Monaghan's hundreds of millions. But I guess it wasn't really about being good, was it? It was about being RIGHT. Easy to get the two confused from high atop one's stack of money. Oh well. Another failure in the long history of American utopian communities.

*polishes Oneida flatware*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:54 AM on March 17, 2012 [37 favorites]


It's almost like what you would see in medieval times when a baron would go and build himself a church and monastery."

Ahh, the good old Dark Ages. How I yearn for them!
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:57 AM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Monaghan had built himself a church; now he wanted to name his own pastor. The bishop refused to let him. "

I thought this had been settled already.
posted by motorcycles are jets at 11:57 AM on March 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


So I take it anyone who wants a build a utopian planned community has never read about what happens to utopian planned communities?
Yes. Not long after the experiments begin, there tends to be an ... "incident" ... after which the following protocol has to be observed: every 108 minutes, the button must be pushed. From the moment the alarm sounds, community members have 4 minutes to enter the code into the microcomputer processor.

Aside from that, everything is peachy keen in utopian planned communities.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:04 PM on March 17, 2012 [12 favorites]


If this weren't a Nationally Sanctioned Religion, this would be called a cult compound instead of a planned community.
Huh? Not having nationally sanctioned religions is kind of the whole point of America. Mormonism.

Also, it doesn't sound like this guy got along with the actual Catholic church all that much:
Stuart wasn't so sure. On her first Sunday in Ave Maria, she tried taking her preschooler son and teenage daughter to mass at the church in the center of town. It was locked — the result of a battle between Monaghan and the bishop of the Diocese of Venice, Frank Dewane. Monaghan had built himself a church; now he wanted to name his own pastor. The bishop refused to let him. The building had been largely unused for a year. "The only times they would open it was for tours or concerts," Stuart says. "And that was so people could donate money." The church now has a priest, but to this day retains its ignominious title as the world's only "quasi oratory" — privately owned Catholic church.
Pretty amazing.
And here I thought the worst of Ave Maria's malfeasance was conferring a J.D. upon Andrew Shirvell, who lost his job with the Michigan Attorney General's office after conducting a campaign of stalking and harassment against the first openly gay president of the University of Michigan student body.
I wondered what it was about that guy that made him think he was engaging in socially acceptable behavior. Being home schooled, and going to some wackjob university probably contributed too it.
So I take it anyone who wants a build a utopian planned community has never read about what happens to utopian planned communities?
There were actually a bunch of these in the 1900s. The Oneida Community someone mentioned upthread. Nothing too catastrophic happened, they eventually had to give up their weird sexual practices, like the Mormons had to give up polygamy.

Most of the examples you guys are giving are from fiction. Obviously, there's a bit of a selection bias there - people are only going to write about the ones that go bad. A novel about a successful Utopian community would be rather dull.
posted by delmoi at 12:16 PM on March 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


This does nothing to quiet my contention that the more "devout" someone is to their religion of choice, the more batshit insane they are.
posted by maxwelton at 12:18 PM on March 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Fizz: "In 1983, John Schnatter (CEO) sold his 1971 Camaro Z28 for $2,800 to help finance the family business. On August 26, 2009, he repurchased it for $250,000. In celebration, Papa John's offered a free pizza to anyone who owned a Camaro.

Sounds like a cool guy to me.
"

Wait til you see my Pinto Owners Pizza. It's exploding with flavor!
posted by symbioid at 12:20 PM on March 17, 2012 [17 favorites]


Huh? Not having nationally sanctioned religions is kind of the whole point of America. Mormonism.

Some flavor of christianity can sensibly be said to be nationally sanctioned without that implying that it's sanctiony by the national government.
posted by kenko at 12:20 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I clicked on the "Plan" link and found this article on their sidebar:
During a press conference on November 5, 2009 Ave Maria University’s administration honored billionaire / politician, Tom Golisano, in violation of the rules of the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)– and in violation of conservative values.

Golisano has an active and long-standing history of breathtaking financial support of socialist pro-choice politicians (including Barack Obama) and pro-choice institutions. But Ave Maria University’s administration does not seem to mind– and will also permanently honor Golisano by naming a 38,107 square-foot building after him. Construction is scheduled to begin soon.
This actually seems to be Marielena Montesino's personal website.
posted by delmoi at 12:23 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, people write about Utopias that go bad because those are the only kind.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:27 PM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


They may be successful for awhile before the wheels fall off, but the wheels will fall off. Books about utopian communities that plug along nicely for some amount of time before falling apart are definitely out there.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:30 PM on March 17, 2012


This does nothing to quiet my contention that the more "devout" someone is to their religion of choice, the more batshit insane they are.

If you correct that to "how devout someone claims to be", I'm with you. There are plenty of actually devout people who follow the rules and don't go around screaming about it.

Have to admit, though, that when Catholics go off the reservation, they do it 110%.
posted by gjc at 12:34 PM on March 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


As a completely lapsed Catholic, I still found this all to be kind of thin, including Ms. Montesino's side of things. I'm sure there's lots more and better damning that can be unearthed about Monaghan's folly, and I bet it's a helluva story when well put-together. I hope someone who can investigate and write is working on it.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:35 PM on March 17, 2012


Huh? Not having nationally sanctioned religions is kind of the whole point of America. Mormonism.

Uh... I was going to write something like "Mormonism started out as something that was a cult, and somewhat persecuted, but today it's considered very 'American'". Then I decided to skip that but apparently didn't delete the entire thing. I certainly ended up with a confusing paragraph.
Some flavor of christianity can sensibly be said to be nationally sanctioned without that implying that it's sanctiony by the national government.
Well, Mormonism is actually pretty strange when it comes to their theology. A lot of evangelical Christians don't think it counts as 'real' Christianity.
No, people write about Utopias that go bad because those are the only kind.
So in your view the Oneida community "went bad"? From reading about it, was more of an example of a fairly smooth transition to normalcy, converting their business into a joint stock company. It was outside pressure over their sexual practices, rather then internal frisson that caused them to abandon the Utopian while still working together as a community, running the business, and so on.

You can't just make a categorical statement like "those are the only kind" and then back it up with examples from fiction.
They may be successful for awhile before the wheels fall off, but the wheels will fall off. Books about utopian communities that plug along nicely for some amount of time before falling apart are definitely out there.
Uh, right. Eventually, they may peter out on their own. But that's hardly the end of the world.
posted by delmoi at 12:36 PM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Considering the origin of the phrase "Pie In The Sky" I hope the title was intentional.
posted by The Whelk at 12:45 PM on March 17, 2012




Ah, planned wossits in South Florida are always a good time.

Let's hope these Frank Lloyd Wright buildings are up to code and using correctly safe materials. We don't want to see another Country Walk.

But that's assuming that they manage to build everything and it doesn't become another Rotonda Sands.

Sounds like the folks in Immokalee have the right idea about it - the kids are gonna buy condoms somewhere.
posted by cmyk at 12:50 PM on March 17, 2012


I recently consciously rejected the vague Roman Catholicism of my childhood, as opposed to just considering it benign and unimportant. That said, I had only four truly amazing, deeply intellectual, and engaging professors in law school: two Jesuits, one woman and the spouse of a Clinton appointee.

Thus ends my meaningless anecdote.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:54 PM on March 17, 2012


Santorum style pious cafeteria Catholics really confuse me. They profess to love the church and its teachings so much, then don't follow whatever church stipulations they choose not to follow without quite grasping that inherent contradiction....

For instance:
Monaghan had built himself a church; now he wanted to name his own pastor.

How do you call yourself a "true catholic" and not follow the orders of the pope as transmitted through the papal chain of command? My impression is that liberal cafeteria catholics don't really seem to claim the same level of piety with regard to this issue. that the Santorum types do.
posted by Chekhovian at 12:56 PM on March 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


Okay, wanting to build the nation's greatest Catholic university, named after Mary, with a significant sports program ("Part of that debt was attributable to Monaghan's obsession with sports, which had already cost the school millions of dollars and several controversies. For a decade, the billionaire had dreamed of building a Catholic university football program that could crush Notre Dame.") ... What, Notre Dame denied him admission and now he's going to Single White Female an entire university?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:57 PM on March 17, 2012 [15 favorites]


If they are following the Bible, how are they able to accept anything but payment in Gold and Silver?
posted by rough ashlar at 1:06 PM on March 17, 2012


I went in expecting everything to smell of incense and pizza sauce and left disappointed.

A friend of mine taught at a Catholic Boy's High School and complained it smelled of B. O. and flatulence.
posted by Mcable at 1:06 PM on March 17, 2012


How do you call yourself a "true catholic" and not follow the orders of the pope as transmitted through the papal chain of command? My impression is that liberal cafeteria catholics don't really seem to claim the same level of piety with regard to this issue. that the Santorum types do.
There were actually huge debates in early 19th century America about who should have the authority to appoint Catholic pastors. A lot of congregations argued that America was a democratic country and needed a democratic form of Catholicism and therefore that the pastor for each Catholic church should be selected by democratically-elected lay trustees. The issue wasn't really settled until the 1840s.
What, Notre Dame denied him admission and now he's going to Single White Female an entire university?
Folks like Monaghan typically argue that Notre Dame and the like are Catholic in name only because of their commitment to intellectual freedom, as well as their willingness to hire diverse faculty. A real Catholic institution, they say, would only hire practicing Catholics and would require them to adhere to religious orthodoxy in their scholarship, teaching, and personal lives. They don't want to be another Notre Dame. They want to be the Catholic version of Wheaton College or Liberty University.
posted by craichead at 1:07 PM on March 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


I lived in a cooperative community for four years, from 2007-2011, housed in 14 fiberglass domes. It was founded in 1972; during a community work party last year, a plaque reading 'Domes Utopia, Summer 1972' was literally unearthed during some construction. (apologies if the facebook photo link doesn't work properly...) The place pretty much lived up to the name: to the extent that any place full of humans can truly be a utopia, it was successful.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:07 PM on March 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


A friend of mine taught at a Catholic Boy's High School and complained it smelled of B. O. and flatulence.

Well mine certainly did, too.
posted by joe lisboa at 1:32 PM on March 17, 2012


What is it with right-wingers and shitty pizza? You've got Herman Cain and Godfather's Pizza. And you've got Tom Monaghan and Domino's Pizza. And the pizza got better after Monaghan got succeeded by less batshit, more apolitical management. I know correlation is not causation, but it makes you wonder.
posted by jonp72 at 1:34 PM on March 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


> people are only going to write about the ones that go bad. A novel about a successful Utopian community would be rather dull.

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas
posted by ardgedee at 1:40 PM on March 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


...who resembles an aging Elizabeth Taylor...

Oh hell no!
posted by Splunge at 1:44 PM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


What is it with right-wingers and shitty pizza?

Pizza is a low-cost, high-profit business that requires relatively little start-up capital, no skilled labor, and minimal equipment. It's a perfect business for people who prioritize profit over product quality.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:49 PM on March 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


It's beyond shitty pizza as a business vehicle, though. Remember when Trump took Palin out for some "real New York pizza", and went to a chain?

... and used a fork and knife?
posted by Flunkie at 1:53 PM on March 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Now, I kind of like ambition and utopias. I know they'll all fail, but we're always giving into despair and hopelessness, whose fruit are lethargy and inertia, nowadays: it seems like my whole life has turned into 'pass the beer' and 'coulda woulda shoulda', i like the aiming for moon-ness of it...it reminds me of the Victorians (whose enormous buildings are everywhere in urban Britain - if you use a train station, for instance, or a town hall, it's nearly always built by them). Nostalgia for an age of titans - they might have been terrible, but at least they tried, and boy were they motivated - it tires me out just imagining their constant busy-ness. Or i guess, in modern american english, this is literally 'if you build it, they will come'.
posted by maiamaia at 2:09 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


How do you call yourself a "true catholic" and not follow the orders of the pope as transmitted through the papal chain of command?

Perhaps because many liberal and conservative Catholics regard the Vatican as a bit of a Johnny Come Lately when compared with the teachings of Jesus.
posted by zippy at 2:18 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Remember when Trump took Palin out for some "real New York pizza", and went to a chain?

And then ate his pizza with a god damned fork.
posted by Talez at 2:28 PM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's almost like what you would see in medieval times when a baron would go and build himself a church and monastery.

"Monaghan had built himself a church; now he wanted to name his own pastor. The bishop refused to let him. "

I thought this had been settled already.



So the Bishop sent his troops into Collier County?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:47 PM on March 17, 2012


It's an interesting story, but not surprising, sadly.

I'm also too used to medieval stuff, for when I heard that the bishop wouldn't let him choose a priest, I could only think, "but surely he has the advowson if he built the church?"
posted by Jehan at 3:07 PM on March 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


the Vatican as a bit of a Johnny Come Lately when compared with the teachings of Jesus

These days they're quite jesus style progressive*...Mr. Big Hat says everyone should have universal health care, poor people should get lots of governmental help, even the jews still have a valid convenant with god.

*Except for those two glaring things of course. Which are of course the only thing that seems have anybody pushing forward to implementation.
posted by Chekhovian at 3:24 PM on March 17, 2012


A friend of mine taught at a Catholic Boy's High School and complained it smelled of B. O. and flatulence.

Well mine certainly did, too.


And spent wintergreen chewing tobacco in the drinking fountains. Ugh.
posted by gjc at 3:24 PM on March 17, 2012


Perhaps because many liberal and conservative Catholics regard the Vatican as a bit of a Johnny Come Lately when compared with the teachings of Jesus.

I think "conservative" for Roman Catholics is best reserved for people who are conservative in that they follow the dictates of the Church hierarchy. I would describe people who challenge the Church hierarchy because they feel that it's not authoritarian enough as "traditionalist".

And digging Jesus more than the Popes is not my experience of "traditionalist" Catholics at all. My experience of people in that movement is that they're not against Popes in general--they're just against all the Popes since John XXIII. The Lefebvrists are explicit in this by calling their movement the Society of St. Pius X, but all of the "traditionalist" movements, and their adherents, that I have encountered share that perspective; they are often talking about the brilliant ex cathedra statements and papal bulls of the past.

Tom Monaghan, as I understand it, is aligned with the most authoritarian wing of the Roman Catholic Church (he is a big funder of Opus Dei, for instance), but looks kindly on the schismatic "traditionalist" movements who have rejected Vatican authority. When you hang around with a bunch of bazillionaires who build their own churches and hire their own pastors (::koff! MEL GIBSON! koff!::) that starts to seem like a reasonable thing to do. Unsurprisingly, the bishop didn't go for it at all, though.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:29 PM on March 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


Holy Hell! What a story. From the land developers who who own the right to govern in perpetuity to the millions wasted trying to build a basketball team to the misappropriation of Pell Grants.

And to think that the whole move started with Monaghan not being allowed to erect his 250 foot crucifix in Ann Arbor. Right there-- that should have alerted everyone to his megalomania.

Equally frightening however is that the state of Florida rather unwittingly gave Barron Collier complete control over the town for perpetuity-- I doubt the real estate brokers mentioned that when they were showing buyers around. Burn it with fire and never, never let this unspeakable idea gain national traction!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:30 PM on March 17, 2012


And to think that the whole move started with Monaghan not being allowed to erect his 250 foot crucifix in Ann Arbor.

That was the part I didn't get at all. Imagine someone being all "Oh, I had a nice law school here, but they wouldn't let me put up that ginormous crucifix that would have pulled the whole campus together! Well, now it's ruined and we have to move."
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:32 PM on March 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


William Joseph Cardinal Levada is an American Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

In case you're wondering, a previous name for 'The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith' was 'Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition.'

Yes, that 'Inquisition.'

No, people write about Utopias that go bad because those are the only kind.

I dunno, I found this series pretty interesting, and they haven't gone bad - but some members do behave pretty badly, especially when confronting other civilizations.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:35 PM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, that 'Inquisition.'

The only reasonable thing to conclude from this reminder is that Levada personally tortures Jews and Muslims all day.

Guess what else I learned recently? Previous holders of the title President of the United Staes of America owned slaves. They didn't even have the decency to change the name of the title after changing THAT little matter!
posted by kenko at 3:43 PM on March 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


In case you're wondering, a previous name for 'The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith' was 'Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition.'

And you know who used to hold that position? The current Pope, from 1981 until his elevation to the papacy.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:45 PM on March 17, 2012


The only reasonable thing to conclude

That doesn't seem reasonable to me.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:45 PM on March 17, 2012


The only reasonable thing to conclude

That doesn't seem reasonable to me.
posted by the man of twists and turns 1 minute ago [+]


You're being mocked.
posted by jayder at 3:50 PM on March 17, 2012


"A friend of mine taught at a Catholic Boy's High School and complained it smelled of B. O. and flatulence."

That is how *every* high school smells.
posted by Ardiril at 3:57 PM on March 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


- At 2:30 in the afternoon, two masked men, guns drawn, burst into Beckner Jewelry on the piazza. They quickly duct-taped owner Alan Beckner's feet, wrists, and mouth before stealing as much as $100,000 in jewelry.

But Ave Maria has no government of its own and no police force. It took county sheriffs at least 15 minutes to cover the 14 miles from Naples to the crime scene. By then, the thieves were long gone. Beckner was in shock.

"They had been casing the place for months," says one county employee who asked to remain anonymous. "The whole town was never set up for crime prevention. When we tried to give crime prevention classes, everything was pooh-poohed. They don't want to get bad news... What they are really looking for is to fleece the county taxpayers. They want us to baby-sit that place without any cost accruing to themselves."


On the other hand:
- On November 5, 2009, Marielena Stuart was packing her camera, crucifix, and pearls to attend a news conference about a $4 million donation to build an athletic center at the university when she checked her email. "Due to your recent history of being disruptive at meetings," the message from Ave Maria University's public relations firm said, "you are not invited to attend the press conference today." (...)
Two sheriff's deputies and three security guards were waiting when she arrived at the Ave Maria student center. Their message was clear: Step foot on university property again and you'll be arrested. They escorted her from campus.


Priorities?
posted by iviken at 3:57 PM on March 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yes I noticed that, iviken.

Makes me wonder what else Ave Maria is lacking, Fire Department? Parks and Rec? Animal Control?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:09 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I bet he didn't expect this sort of Spanish Inquisition.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:25 PM on March 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


What is it with right-wingers and shitty pizza? You've got Herman Cain and Godfather's Pizza. And you've got Tom Monaghan and Domino's Pizza...I know correlation is not causation, but it makes you wonder.

I shall place this in my File of Curious Affinities, along with Lesbian Chat Show Hosts and British Childten's Authors.
posted by Diablevert at 4:29 PM on March 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is interesting, but I kind of wish this article wasn't so full of stuff like:

“The Devil,” he says, and chuckles and tries to recant

Every two paragraphs. It's journalism, not an "I see what you did there" contest, guy.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:31 PM on March 17, 2012


Oh heck.... and here I'd been thinking that, since Monaghan sold Domino's, it was safe to eat their pizza, now that the money was no longer going to extremist causes I totally disagree with.

Guess I'm just gonna have to learn to toss my own pizza dough: Monaghan sold it to Bain Capitol..... yep, good ol' Mitt Romney's bunch.
posted by easily confused at 4:47 PM on March 17, 2012


So I take it anyone who wants a build a utopian planned community has never read about what happens to utopian planned communities?

Apart from heaven.
posted by mattoxic at 4:50 PM on March 17, 2012


My mom lives in Columbia, Maryland, which is a fairly famous intentional community. It's not paradise, but it's not bad. And the founder was Ed Norton's grandfather.

From Wikipedia: Opened in 1967, Columbia was designed to not only eliminate the inconveniences of then-current subdivision design, but also eliminate racial, religious, and class segregation.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:56 PM on March 17, 2012


I'm not sure how more Conservative Catholics justify their variations from doctrine, but some liberals just assume at some point church leadership will "catch up" to their way of thinking. The downside is that it really could be used to justify anything.
posted by drezdn at 5:18 PM on March 17, 2012


Though that belief should be grounded in Jesus's teachings.
posted by drezdn at 5:20 PM on March 17, 2012


That "plan" article isn't quite time cube crazy, but it's really really bad:

"Ave Maria University does not even call itself “Catholic” on its own website."

Uh, except that it does. Right at the top of the page.

It's full of idiocy like that.
posted by Jahaza at 5:30 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which isn't to say that Monaghan is a good steward of his resources, or particularly good at achieving his goals. He's pretty much seen as being out there and wacky at this point even by conservatie and traditionalist Catholics.
posted by Jahaza at 5:44 PM on March 17, 2012


That "plan" article isn't quite time cube crazy, but it's really really bad: ..... It's full of idiocy like that.

That's on the website of Marielena Montesino de Stuart, the former Monaghan employee featured in the "not gone" article (who's running for the U.S. Senate).
posted by benito.strauss at 5:50 PM on March 17, 2012


Or even that he has good goals.

From the GQ article:
He is reticent, sincere, and convinced that no informed, obedient Catholic can be politically liberal. While heaven is a tangible location and the Devil is referred to regularly in his personal worldview as an active, almost Miltonian character, Monaghan seems bemused by the fact that someone might ask him about religion.
What the hell (so to speak) does that mean? Satan speaks in blank verse in Monaghan's worldview? Satan is a somewhat ambigious quasi-heroic character in Monaghan's worldview? That the guy believes Satan exists doesn't make Satan "Miltonian."
posted by Jahaza at 5:50 PM on March 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


I like how this Stuart woman moved to the town expressly because it claimed it would violate Constitutional rights and then is shocked when her Constitutional rights were violated.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 6:15 PM on March 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


What is it with right-wingers and shitty pizza? You've got Herman Cain and Godfather's Pizza. And you've got Tom Monaghan and Domino's Pizza.

And Caesar was no lefty, either.
posted by escabeche at 6:31 PM on March 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


When I was in college, Tom owned the little pizza place a few blocks from my apartment in Ypsilanti. He owned one (1) pizza place at that time. It was really pretty good pizza. At some point he opened another one in Ann Arbor.

Eventually, Domino's corporate headquarters was this building replete with it's own buffalo herd, petting farm and a cell tower that looks like some strange lightening bolt. Monaghan wanted to build this structure (the leaning tower of pizza, really, that's what it was going to be named) to house the corporation. Ann Arbor wouldn't let him.

I was inside his office once... three story ceiling, filled with Tiger Baseball stuff. A bit of a megalomaniac feel to it.
posted by HuronBob at 7:00 PM on March 17, 2012


The irony of landing on this article surrounded in ads for "Beer Fest" was not lost on me.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:13 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the second to last article:
Hiller describes Barron Collier as the county's "800-pound gorilla." She recently squared off with the company when she voted against enticing Maine-based biomedical group the Jackson Laboratory to Ave Maria.
Wait, WTF? Jax was thinking about operating in Ave Maria?! Jax is one of the premier mouse research institutes in the world -- to me, it would've been about as surreal if Microsoft had considered opening a satellite campus there. (I managed to find another article that emphasizes what a weird, uncomfortable arrangement this could have been.)
posted by en forme de poire at 7:29 PM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Of all the things crazy right-wing rich people spend their money on, grandiose architecture and utopian schemes are probably among the more benign. If only the Koch brothers could be convinced to do the same. I'm sorry for the people who got sucked into it, though.

Here is the Google Maps link for Ave Maria. It's funny to see how they've built a sort of imitation European town square around the cathedral (sorry, oratory), but one which is only one building deep, and after that surrounded by parking lots.

Still, it seems more walkable than most such developments. Arcades on the buildings to allow people to get out of the sun. The streets aren't ridiculously wide. Parking lots can always be built on later. If they're lucky, the bad press and financial issues will make Barron Collier give up their control of the town (who would invest in a place they have no control over, after all?) and allow it to develop more freely.
posted by alexei at 7:41 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was expecting some big religious thing, but in fact there's almost nothing specific to religion in the whole story. It's just a guy starting a company town.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:41 PM on March 17, 2012


. I'm sorry for the people who got sucked into it, though.

The New Times story makes it sound like Marielena Montesino de Stuart is trapped because of a Moneghan screwup that left her house not worth as much as she paid for it, but it's hardly surprising for a Florida homeowner to be underwater on their mortgage.
posted by Jahaza at 7:48 PM on March 17, 2012


Equally frightening however is that the state of Florida rather unwittingly gave Barron Collier complete control over the town for perpetuity-- I doubt the real estate brokers mentioned that when they were showing buyers around. Burn it with fire and never, never let this unspeakable idea gain national traction!

It is pretty common to have these homeowners' associations remain in developer control until a majority of the units are sold. By accident or design, this one just seems that it never will make it to that threshold.

Re: Catholicism: it's sort of like a common-law setup, where there is law, and then there is precedent. The bible is the word of god, and the church interprets it and teaches it from the perspective of having been a church for a couple thousand years. Nobody worships the pope, he is just the CEO. His interpretation of the word of god is valid until a subsequent pope changes it, presumably guided by the holy spirit toward a more correct interpretation.

As for Catholics and their personal belief systems not being 100% in line with church doctrine, some of it is indeed hoping the church will catch up. But a lot of it is, in my experience, that the church puts out doctrines that are guidance. The closer you get to adhering to the rules, the less 'splaining you have to do when you die. But the church doesn't reject people who fail to meet its expectations, instead, it tries to help people get back on the path. It isn't up to the church to judge and condemn (so much, anymore), but to forgive and shepherd people, and leave the judgement to god (who will judge you on intent as well as faith).

Further, the church emphasizes that mere faith is not the only thing that will get you to heaven. One must live that faith by doing good in the world. Sadly, this makes crazy people do crazy things.
posted by gjc at 8:12 PM on March 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


So, yet another Utopian planned conservative community is failing.

Meanwhile the quarter century long radical community and temporary autonomous zone of Burning Man is not only thriving, it's outgrown the artificial limit of 50,000 citizens / participants placed on it by external forces?

I realize there's a difference between a week-long community and city and a permanent city, but still, it makes me smile a little hearing that once again the conservative impulse for order and central control has lost culturally to independence, distributed sharing and chaos.
posted by formless at 8:22 PM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love the idea of Burning Man, and this community sounds like hell, but that is one of the most specious comparisons I've heard in quite a while.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:47 PM on March 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


(Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates: "No, people write about Utopias that go bad because those are the only kind."

What about America? Checkmate.
posted by Bonzai at 11:21 PM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


*Of the 95% of graduates for whom employment status was known nine months after graduation, 73.4% reported employment.

Even my school, which is entirely regional and nothing to write home about, has over 90%, and that includes as unemployed the people who are doing dual degrees but haven't finished the non-law program, which is reasonably common among people I know and not a possible excuse at Ave Maria. And that's just "employed", not to mention quality of the jobs involved.

It was a BAD week for AVE MARIA School of Law, after its class of 2011 reported a dismal bar pass rate on the Florida exam. Only 11 of 23 first-time takers passed, or 47.8 percent. That was the lowest pass rate for any law school in the state. The school had a 64 percent pass rate in 2010.

Oh. So... that's why, then.
posted by gracedissolved at 11:26 PM on March 17, 2012


If you move to a town being built in Florida swampland by a religious zealot with the goal of being creating a catholic town with no contraception and no pornography, then you can't realistically expect the city to be a paragon of democracy.
posted by rdr at 3:56 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is pretty common to have these homeowners' associations remain in developer control until a majority of the units are sold. By accident or design, this one just seems that it never will make it to that threshold.

This is not a HOA; Homeowner's Associations wear a veneer of democracy-- if you own a home you get to vote for the association board and you get to vote on the laws that the board deems necessary. If enough homeowners agree, you may vote to disband the HOA. There is no voting in Ave Maria.

Furthermore this goes beyond just the homes-- HOAs may pass draconian regulations concerning what people may do to their own homes*, but they don't run entire towns. In this case the developer (called Ave Maria Stewardship Community District) controls the Town Hall. They are the ones deciding whether or not Ave Maria has a police force (they decided "not.")

From the "not gone" link:
Like other special districts in Florida, it had been designed to give the developer — in this case Barron Collier Companies — government-like powers over the town as it was being built. But the special district's charter hid an unprecedented secret.

"Even someone really versed in Florida law would think that it was just like any development district," says Liam Dillon, a reporter back then who covered Ave Maria for the Naples Daily News. "But it was really a novel concept: Barron Collier could control the town forever."

For decades, Florida developers had been required to cede control within ten years. But in the case of Ave Maria, the decision when — or if — to turn town government over to its residents lay entirely in the hands of the Southwest Florida land magnate. And the company seemed in no rush to let the townspeople vote.
Like I said earlier-- this is a terrible concept that needs to be stomped on.


* Just for fun: Bentley Little wrote a humorous novel about a terrifying HOA literally from hell. I enjoyed the heck out of it.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:00 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


an active, almost Miltonian character

Satan really wants his red stapler back.
posted by zippy at 9:25 AM on March 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


If I were trying to set up a planned community that would adhere strictly to Catholic values, I think I might spend a day or so reading the Catholic Church's web page and then avoid things that have a track record of getting people kicked in the groin by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:42 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


*Of the 95% of graduates for whom employment status was known nine months after graduation, 73.4% reported employment.

Even my school, which is entirely regional and nothing to write home about, has over 90%...


As we've discussed elsewhere, it might not be the case that Ave Maria Law is exceptional in that regard, so much as that other schools are lying and/or fudging the numbers in ways that Ave Maria Law is not doing.

To employ an analogy: the guy who rides the Tour de France without doping is going to have terrible times, relative to the winners, but that might say more about the winners than it does about the guy.

There's a lot to dislike about this law school, but I'm not sure this is one of the things.
posted by gauche at 9:07 AM on March 19, 2012


On the other hand, it is entirely possible that they might be juking the stats and still coming up with terrible terrible numbers. In which case they need a better stats-juker / "career services officer" to play give people "research assistantships" that will neatly coincide with the inquiry period.
posted by gauche at 9:28 AM on March 19, 2012


I'm pretty sure Monaghan just wanted to create the Catholic Disney World. After all, it worked for Walt.
posted by Kokopuff at 2:00 PM on March 19, 2012


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