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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

How Does the Voting Method Work?

It appears that some people are not clear on how the voting method works for the Alumni Board elections. An Alumni Board member gave me this explanation:
The voting method is not a weighted voting process (like a system where there are x points for Rank 1 and y points for Rank 2). Instead it is a preferential voting system which favors the first preferences of voters and attempts to find a consensus candidate. It is not a perfect system, but it is better than a system based on which candidate receives a plurality of votes.

Ballots are counted and are put into candidate piles based on their #1 preferences. The candidate pile with the smallest number of #1 votes is eliminated, and all of the ballots in that smallest pile get redistributed among the remaining piles based on their #2 preferences. Then the piles are recounted, and again, the smallest pile is eliminated and redistributed to the other piles.

To illustrate:
3 ballots with A as #1 choice, X as #2
3 ballots with B as #1, X as #2
1 ballot with C as #1, X as #2, A as #3

-3 piles get created based on #1 preferences: a pile of 3 ballots for A, a pile of 3 ballots for B, and a pile of 1 ballot for C
-take the smallest pile (the C pile) out, because it is the smallest pile. Go down the ballots in the C pile and redistribute the ballots. Here, there is no X pile but there is an A pile. Thus, the ballot's #2 preference for X can't be honored, but the ballot's #3 preference for A can. Thus, the one ballot from the C pile goes to A.
-A wins the election over B, 4 ballots to 3 ballots. X loses even though he is a consensus candidate between the A and B supporters.

An extra wrinkle present in the current election is that there is not just one open chair position, but three open chair positions. In this situation, the above process of making piles and eliminating piles continues until three piles are left. Those last three piles are the winning candidates.

This method sometimes creates an odd situation. Let's say that 90 people vote in the exact same manner: #1 preference for A, #2 for B, #3 for C. Let's say that 5 people vote #1 for X and 5 people vote #1 for Y. When counting the votes, piles get created for #1 candidates, and here, there are three piles (an A pile, an X pile, and a Y pile), and since there are only three piles, A and X and Y win the three chair positions. B and C, the two other top candidates for the overwhelming majority of voters, don't get elected. Hope this helps, let me know if you have any questions.

Fumed by Tommy More at 9:35 PM. |

Rick Convertino Acquitted On All Counts

Friend of AMSL Rick Convertino was found not guilty on all counts this afternoon (we've discussed his trial before here). Convertino was being prosecuted on charges of perjury for his role in a post-9/11 trial. The jury started deliberating this morning just before 9:00 a.m., taking them less than 8 hours to reach a verdict in the 3-week trial, which seems like a relatively short time. More news coverage here and here. I think a prayer of thanksgiving is in order.

Fumed by Thales at 5:00 PM. |

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Open Thread on Alumni Board Election

The Alumni Board election is here! There are three empty chair positions are to be filled (all current members of the Board will remain for at least another year.) If you haven't received your ballot yet, you should receive it soon. Some quick notes:

1. Personal information and statements from the candidates were not mailed with the ballot. In the letter accompanying the ballot, there is a website link that takes you to the PDF with this information. Or you can email Ermin for the PDF, though it is a large document.

2. Contrary to what the language of the ballot implies, YOU DO NOT NEED TO FILL IN THE ENTIRE BALLOT. You do not need to rank all of the candidates on the ballot. In fact, if there are candidates that you do NOT want to vote for, you should not rank them on the ballot. Because of the method of counting ballots, even the lowest ranking for a candidate is still a vote for that candidate. If a candidate doesn't share your position, then you do not need to vote for him or her if you don't want to.

3. Discuss the candidates in the comments! What are the positions of the various candidates? I recommend naming the candidates in the comments by their initials or first names. (I learned from last year that not all the candidates have tough skins, even though if they win the election, their name and contact information will be put up on the school's public website.)

Fumed by Thales at 9:21 AM. |

On Writing (on blogs or otherwise)

Advocatus Militaris' post below got me thinking. In the whole phenomenon that is the blogosphere and the AMSL controversy, only one thing really matters; and I will be so bold as to say that this is the thing that really matters to Fumare's contributors. A rather rotund, tobacco smoking Englishman put it best:
In the end it will not matter to us whether we wrote well or ill; whether we fought with flails or reeds. It will matter to us greatly on what side we fought.

Fumed by Petronius at 9:19 AM. |

Monday, October 29, 2007


The charge is constantly leveled that FUMARE and her contributors are destroying AMSL, engaged in calumny/detraction, doing something evil, etc. etc. etc. This accusation constantly amuses me and when a hard-hitting post comes out, you can be sure to find an assortment of fruits and nuts in the comboxes. Nevertheless, it is good to remind our readers that we can't make anyone subscribe to our position on AMSL (or anything else). The best we can do is present evidence, criticize the opposition, and argue our position. This does not exclude making fun of the people in power or bringing a little humor to the issues. (Hey, if I can make Richard Myers laugh, I will consider it a successful post!)

Over the past few years, we have been immensely sucessful on the Ave Maria front because, in the words of one accurate observer, "light disinfects." Bringing to light the injustices that have been perpetrated by--what I call--the "conservative Catholic elite" upon an incredibly successful law school and community because of the questionable vision of a Catholic Crassus, demonstrates the soft-underbelly of the so-called defensores Fidei in the United States. In the minds of those "building the kingdom" in our country, the end justifies the means. I pray that this isn't the case, but as a beneficiary of the "How-dare-you question-us-we-are-THE-Catholic-conservative-leaders-of-the-United-States" attitude up close; and as one who has looked at the evidence in the public domain and made a judgement on the matter, I cannot but conclude that the whitewashed tomb syndrome is not exclusive to certain members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or writers for the National Catholic Reporter. In light of the forgoing, FUMARE and her contributors are not afraid of the truth and are confident that it will see the light of day.

This is our position. We encourage our readers who are interested in this controversy to inform themselves and make their own decisions accordingly. Read the posts. Comment, argue, emote, vent. See who is intellectually more satisfying! Get some thick skin and have a sense of humor too--if you don't, you will hate my posts! You can google the issue and find many articles in the secular and religious press on the controversy. Likewise consider the following sources for a robust perspectives on both sides of the debate:

FUMARE (cutting edge commentary by harmless, lovable AMSL alums!)
AveWatch.org (documents and commentary on the Ave Maria Empire)
Mirror of Justice (blog of Catholic legal scholars that oftentimes comments on the AMSL situation)
WhoseAMSOL (historical blog of the early days of the unrest)
INCENSE (the answer to FUMARE; they don't like "contravening comments")
Senator Hamilton (another answer to FUMARE)

and...various other legal blogs that routinely follow the controversy.


AMSOL Real Transition Team (just plain funny--though probably not to the pro-Monaghan crowd!)

Inform yourselves, gang, and make a judgement. That's why God gave you an intellect.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 9:46 PM. |

The Artful Dodger


Between Senator Hamilton and Fr. Orsi, I guess they got the big guns out now, eh? I will await Thales' masterful dissection later on, but I am struck by the following:
But it takes money to have the kind of excellence that Ave Maria School of Law is committed to. AMSOL's Board of Governors had to make a choice for the long term good of the school. And I think the board made the right choice, just as I think O'Malley did when he took the Dodgers to LA. I don't believe O'Malley's in hell for doing what he did, and I don't believe Tom Monaghan and the Board of Governors are going there for making the decision to relocate.
It is rather tragic that Fr. Orsi has ascribed--at least by implication--that the opposition to Monaghan and Dobranski has said (on blogs or otherwise) that they and the Board of Governors are going to hell. Nowhere do I recall this ever occurring. However, I do recall the credible reports of Fr. Orsi from the pulpit ascribing certain blogs as the work of Satan. That is well known and was said in a most unfortunate forum. Secondly, we tragically see that, to Fr. Orsi, money is paramount. I'm glad Mother Angelica never thought that way.

Imust admit, though, that Orsi's argument was rather artful.

Just a kid from Brooklyn!

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 11:55 AM. |

Fr. Orsi Editorial on AMSOL Relocation

Cybercast News Service has an editorial today by Fr. Orsi about Ave Maria School of Law, entitled "Like the Dodgers, Ave Maria School of Law Will Thrive by Moving." Fr. Orsi draws parallels between AMSOL and the Brooklyn Dodgers moving to Los Angeles, in an attempt to argue that the Florida move is in AMSOL's best interests.

Fumed by Tommy More at 10:19 AM. |

Bella Does Wella

(Sorry for that)

With a very limited release, only 165 theaters, Bella came in second among the new releases when looking at the average income per theater.

What does this mean?

Hollywood will likely give Bella more theaters and more marketing money to reach more audience.

This is what the Catholic Church can do when it gets organized around a film.

Contributing to this success is the work of New Ethos - a new Catholic apostolate that is working to organize the Catholic media market to respond when high moral and artistic media products are offered in the market.

Understanding that the industry responds to market demand, New Ethos is trying to show media producers and developers that goodness and beauty sell well.

Thanks to everyone who went to see Bella this weekend and got the word out.

Keep it up, with a wider release, we can put Bella over the top and give Metanoia films that kind of return it needs to make the other films it has in production.

In development right now is a film titled Christo Rey - about the Mexican martyrs who died at the hands of the anti-Catholic Masonic government during the last century.

More on Bella's success here.

Fumed by Columcille at 8:31 AM. |

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pulling the Starters, Putting in the Second String

I popped into the law professor hiring fair Thursday night. Thanks to the sponsors of the Religious Schools hospitality suite. It may have cost (them, not me) a bit more, but having an open bar was definitely the right decision.

I really don't have much to report. The Ave recruiters were nowhere to be seen. A smart move on their part, I'd think. The brighter attendees probably have as many questions about the meaning of "tenure" and "tenure track" at Ave as does the ABA. Wouldn't want them putting negative thoughts in the heads of the gormless twits who haven't ruled out Ave completely.

I did get a chance to speak with some current (for now) Ave profs. It just reminded me how great a faculty our school had. They asked about my legal career and for news of my fellow alumni. They asked for prayers for themselves and the Ave community. They would not, despite my promptings, badmouth the incoming students.

I did get some info that I'll trickle out into the comboxes as appropriate. But for now, I'd just like to take this opportunity to express my high regard for our professoriate, to solicit your prayers for them and for our alma mater, to publicly apologize for getting lost three different times when I gave some people a ride back to the hotels, and to publicly mock one professor who stayed at a hipster boutique hotel with a lavender awning.

Fumed by Boko Fittleworth at 4:35 PM. |

Thursday, October 25, 2007

POLL: Do You Believe There Are Grave Injustices at AMSL?

Time for the next Fumare Poll! (I'm not using the poll that offers the map option, due to people's concerns for confidentiality.)

A preliminary point: Last time, some people criticized my use of Prof. Myers. There was a reason why I used him. I find that the pro-Monaghan crowd often characterizes their opposition in a way that makes it easy to dismiss the opposition's concerns: Often, to the pro-Monaghan side, the opposition is a "minority" or small group of faceless, power-hungry, self-interested "academic terrorists", biased in favor of Michigan, and manipulated by Safranek, a loony mastermind. (As an aside, how did Safranek's reputation get so maligned? For the first couple years of AMSL, he was the AMSL poster boy, beloved among students and administration.) That is why it was important for me to put a name and face to one of the members of this group. It's easy to shrug off the concerns of some disgruntled and irrational law professors; it's a different thing altogether to dismiss the concerns of an intelligent, faithful, and honorable man like Prof. Myers.

Now, here's the new question: "Do you believe that grave injustices are occurring/have occurred at AMSL?"

I use the term "grave injustices" for the sake of brevity, and what I mean by it are the following things: that Dean Dobranski is deserving of "no confidence"; that AMSL is being governed contrary to ABA standards; that AMSL has a climate of "bullying and intimidation"; and that the firings of Profs. Safranek, Lyons, and Pucillo were unjust. This is the professed position of Prof. Myers and Prof. Falvey and some other members of the faculty.

I see 6 possible responses to the poll question. I hope that these responses are fair. (If not, let me know in the comments.) I realize that there may be some overlap between the responses, so please choose the answer that best describes your position.

1. Yes. I have sufficient knowledge of the situation at AMSL and from this, I believe that there are grave injustices.

2. Yes. I do not have sufficient knowledge of the situation at AMSL. However, people like Profs. Myers and Falvey do have knowledge of the AMSL situation; they say that there are grave injustices, and I trust their word.

3. No. I do not have sufficient knowledge of the situation at AMSL. People like Profs. Sonne and Quirk should have knowledge of the situation at AMSL and they haven't voiced any objections. I trust them, and so I conclude that people like Profs. Myers and Falvey are mistaken, and that the situation at AMSL is fine with no grave injustices.

4. No. I do not have sufficient knowledge of the situation at AMSL. However, people like Deans Dobranski and Milhizer do have knowledge of the AMSL situation; they say that there are no grave injustices, and I trust their word.

5. No. I have sufficient knowledge of the situation at AMSL and from this, I believe that there are no grave injustices.

6. I don't know. I do not have sufficient knowledge of the situation at AMSL and I do not know whether to believe people like Profs. Myers and Falvey or whether to believe people like Deans Dobranski and Milhizer.

Free polls from Pollhost.com
Do you believe that grave injustices are occurring/have occurred at AMSL?
1. Yes, and I have sufficient knowledge of the AMSL situation. 2. Yes, I don't have sufficient knowledge but I trust Myers when he says there are injustices. 3. No, I don't have sufficient knowledge but I trust Sonne and he hasn't objected to the AMSL situation. 4. No, I don't have sufficient knowledge but I trust Dobranski when he says there are no injustices. 5. No, and I have sufficient knowledge of the AMSL situation. 6. I don't know, I don't have sufficient knowledge and I don't know which side to believe.   

Fumed by Thales at 4:28 PM. |

Another Sign of a Healthy Law School

It has come to my attention that this weekend is the annual Association of American Law School's Faculty Recruitment Conference. This is an opportunity for legal scholars to interview at various institutions for teaching or research positions. FUMARE's sources tell us that AMSL will be well represented--in terms of professors looking for jobs! Consider the following:

Professor Ed Lyons
Professor Bruce Frohnen
Professor Nora O'Callaghan
Professor Vanessa (Pierce) Rollins
Professor Lee Strang

But fear not, Monaghan defenders! Dobranski's Ave Maria School of Law (DAMSL) will also be in attendance. The DAMSL booth will likely be represented by Dobranski, Sonne, Quirk and Adolphe. With the bad press over the last several years and the most recent lawsuit filed by Safranek, Lyons and Pucillo, this intrepid team will do its very best to save the DAMSL in distress. To that end, their booth hopes to attract bright young intellectuals who are interested in rich intellectual tradition espoused by Thomas Monaghan, B.S., honoris causa.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 10:43 AM. |

Analyzing the Trustworthiness Poll Results

From the number of responses, I think my first attempt at a poll was a success with well over 200 people voting. Prof. Myers lead from the start with about 70-75% support, and gradually inched up to above 80% support. Thank you to all who voted!

The first poll of the two listed, the one powered by Vizu, also has a map: click on "Comment" on that poll and you'll get a screen giving the number of votes cast and a map showing where the votes were cast. The map seems to be a good approximation of where Fumare readers are located: concentrations in the Midwest, California, DC, and New York, which would be expected. (A big "Hello!" to the readers in Alaska, Dublin, and Rome!)

100% accuracy is impossible with these Internet polls because of no one knows how often people are voting, but both polls had comparable statistics so I think the polling programs did a fairly good job of limiting the vote numbers by computers and/or IP addresses. (The downside is that only one person can vote in multiple-person households. All those big AMSL families with 5+ kids, sorry about that.)

Can anything be gleaned from the results? I'm not sure. The crowd being polled is most likely not representative of the AMSL community as a whole: I expect that people who read Fumare are more likely than not to agree with the views of Fumare contributors. Also, voters might have misunderstood the poll question and considered the trustworthiness of the individual rather than the trustworthiness of the individual's statements on the situation at AMSL. As discussed in the comments, bias might have played a role in the voting. Because of this, I've formulated another poll question in my mind which, I hope, takes these concerns into account. Stay tuned, I hope to have it up later today.

UPDATE: The map option for the poll has been removed due to concerns of confidentiality.

Fumed by Thales at 10:31 AM. |

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Go See BELLA and Score a Big One for the Culture of Life

Some of you might remember a post last January about a new film called Bella. In that post, I compared this film to The Passion of the Christ. Well it seems that some agree with this analysis.

This film is being released this weekend.

As you know, the opening weekend of a film is CRITICALLY important for sending a message to Hollywood. It is like voting in the Culture War Election (if that makes any sense).

So this is a call to action.



Lets make this film a blockbuster and launch these three Catholic film makers into a media frenzy and Oscar category.

These guys need to be empowered to make more films, they will be part of a new generation in Hollywood, perhaps a corner turning moment in the culture.

Please tell everyone about this film and do your part for advancing a Culture of Life.

Remember, this weekend is when you've got to go see it, the impact is lost if you plan to see it next weekend.

Remember too that we are in the midst of the 40 days for Life Campaign. Here is a letter for one of the organizers about Bella:


I've stopped believing in "coincidences."

In two days, the powerful life-affirming movie "Bella"opens in select theaters across America.

When I was talking on the phone recently with the star of the movie, Eduardo Verastegui, and one of the film's Executive Producers, they shared that they believed the timing of the release of the movie this Friday --right in the midst of 40 Days for Life -- was a giftfrom God.

I have to agree.

Please go see Bella this weekend. Y

ou will be actively helping to build the "Culture of Life."

Bella is the beautiful story of one day and one decision that changed the lives of three people forever. Powerful, passionate, and unpredictable, Bella reminds us that what is most valuable in life is not always what we expect.

Bella captured the coveted People's Choice Award at theToronto Film Festival (as did the Oscar-winning filmsChariots of Fire, Hotel Rwanda, Crouching Tiger HiddenDragon, and Life Is Beautiful in past years.)

The opening weekend is critical to the success of amovie and will determine if it will be distributed on awider basis to more markets across America.

YOU can help promote Bella and its pro-life message:

1.) See Bella yourself, and bring some friends!

2.) Buy a block of tickets for members of your church, family members, and friends!

3.) Forward this email to pro-life individuals and lists of people!

Here's more information about Bella:

* Reviews, bios, trailers and buy tickets online: http://www.bellathemovie.com/

* A wonderful article about the film and its star as published in Celebrate Life magazine (PDF file): http://snipurl.com/1sne8

* List of theaters showing Bella: http://bellathemovie.com/theater/

You will be profoundly touched by this movie.This is one of those rare opportunities where we cansend a loud and clear message to Hollywood about whatentertainment should be.Go see "Bella" this weekend and encourage your friends,family members, and fellow believers to go see it.

It will bless you!

Fumed by Columcille at 6:05 PM. |

Freedom of Association

Oftentimes the ordinary things of this world take on an immortal quality. Every human person knows this. In moments of reflection, we can see the extraordinary in the ordinary; the passing things of this world enduring; the seemingly simple things becoming profoundly meaningful.

Consider the smell of homemade soup cooking in grandma's house, experienced so many time as a child on Sunday afternoons but subsequently lost through the intervening years. Consider the joy and innocence of that time rediscovered years later when that same delicious smell comes from another less revered kitchen. A park bench, not especially pleasing to the eye, might be the most wonderful thing in the world to a man who sat there with his future wife on their first date. Upon seeing that bench after a span of years, perhaps the flower of that young love becomes present again and rekindles that flame which was lit those many years ago. Consider a father who rocked his baby daughter to sleep to the aria "He shall feed His flock" from Handel's Messiah. Years later after his daughter is grown and may have daughters of her own, what images and memories must come flooding back to his mind as he now holds his granddaughter in his lap. What thoughts of love and tenderness echoed by the words of Isaiah.

The philosophers might call this reflection, and indeed it is. It is a manner of apprehending the true, the good, and the beautiful. Perhaps, we may say that it is a spiritual gift of an all-loving God who wishes to impress upon us deeper mysteries through the circumstances of our everyday life. Indeed, I suppose this is why great spiritual men have always admonished their people to surround themselves with good images. These simple things of the world are opportunities for reflection on the deeper mysteries of our existence which ultimately lead us to God and His Love. It is Freedom of Association! He has given each of us this spiritual faculty in order that He might draw us to Himself. It is evidence that He knows us individually and loves us individually.

Grandma may have died, her house sold, and her soup the stuff of memory; but the innocence and the joy of childhood endures. The old park bench may be removed by some urban planner with ideas for stronger and more beautiful park benches; but the love of a man and woman endures. The rocking chair may be gone, the daughter may be gone, and Handel no longer played; but the love of a father for his daughter never dies. It endures.

So does God.

Fumed by Petronius at 12:10 AM. |

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


An urgent message from 3 Class of 2003 grads:

Dear Members of the Ave Maria School of Law Community,

We write to ask your prayers upon learning of some sad news concerning the daughter of one of our classmates. Emilija Lapas, daughter of Vilius ('03) and Paulette Lapas, is in need of your prayers. You may remember that Emilija battled through cancer not too long ago with the aid of your prayers. Unfortunately, a new tumor was recently discovered on her spine. She is in surgery this morning to remove the tumor, and cancer treatments will be renewed.

Please, let us unite as a community to pray for the success of this surgery, for a successful treatment, and for the elimination of any cancer in her body. Let us pray also for abundant strength for the Lapas family during this time. The Lapases are the very model of a wonderful Christian family. They need your prayers for the recovery of their amazing little girl.

St. Peregrine Laziosi - Pray for Emilija!

Matthew Boever '03
Christopher McGowan '03
Mark Rohlena '03

Fumed by Tommy More at 12:08 PM. |

Monday, October 22, 2007

POLL: Who Is More Trustworthy? Myers or Dobranski?

Here's something new: A Fumare Poll! There are plenty of arguments on both sides of the AMSL debate, but I've tried to condense the debate into something very concrete. Who do you think is more trustworthy: Dean Dobranski or Professor Myers?

These two men hold diametrically opposed viewpoints. Dean Dobranski describes the events at AMSL one way, while Prof. Myers describes the events at AMSL in the opposite way: Prof. Myers has voted no confidence in Dean Dobranski, believes the school is in non-compliance with ABA standards, has publicly expressed opposition to Dean Dobranski, has described actions of the administration as "bullying and intimidation," and has condemned the unjust treatment of Prof. Safranek and described it as contrary to human dignity and contrary to the mission of AMSL. Which man do you trust? If you think that Prof. Myers is an honorable man but you still support the pro-Monaghan side, you are going to have to say that Prof. Myers is completely mistaken and untrustworthy on this topic of AMSL.

I purposefully did not include a third option of "I don't have enough information to make a decision" because it's still possible to answer the question of who is more trustworthy. If you had absolutly no knowledge about the AMSL debate, and Prof. Myers came to you and said that grave injustices were occuring at AMSL and Dobranski came and told you the opposite, based on what you know of their characters, who would you believe?

I'm interested in seeing where our readership lies. (I realize these polls aren't 100% accurate because people could try to vote more than once. I've tried to avoid that by making the poll so that it doesn't count multiple votes from the same computer.) If you have criticisms about the question, please discuss in the comments.

UPDATE: I've changed the program for the poll, in order to make it more accurate. For those who had already voted, please vote again.

UPDATE 2: I'm still experimenting with poll programs and am undecided as to which poll program is better. So please vote in both! Thanks. Any preferences or suggestions about poll programs? Please let me know in the comments.

UPDATE 3: One of the polls was removed.

Whom do you find more trustworthy on the AMSL situation?
Dean Dobranski
Professor Myers
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Fumed by Thales at 9:34 PM. |

An Open Letter to the Five Deans

From: Andrew Doran
Date: Oct 22, 2007 2:29 PM
Subject: An Open Letter to the Five Deans
To: [email addresses redacted]

October 22, 2007

Re: Five Deans' Letter to Damon Garcia

Dear Five Deans:

I write to express my disgust that you, deans of a law school, would fix your sights on a single student in a pathetic attempt to bully him - and others by proxy - into submission. You assert that it is "reckless, baseless and offensive" for anyone to accuse the administration of an "intimidation campaign" - this in a letter attacking and impugning a student issued by deans of the administration. When the capacity for sound reasoning begins to falter, apparently the first thing to completely give way is a sense of irony.

To be sure, with each passing year there are fewer voices of opposition, and the memory of what Ave Maria School of Law was supposed to be, and once was, continues to fade. This trend is undoubtedly a source of comfort for the administration. Yet now, more than ever, you should be mindful of your duties to the students, rather than using your positions to see that all opposition is stamped out. Blaming the victim has worked to great effect in fooling the incoming students (the brightest of whom are already quietly making plans to transfer), but it won't fool the ABA.

Dean Castro: You above all the others should know better. You are explicitly charged with protecting students, not attacking them. Last year, you assented to the administration's decision to tarnish one AMSL alumnus' Character & Fitness Report for the bar - even though the law school was content to take his money for three years. And while you denied any involvement in this affair to me, we both know the truth of it. You lately failed to restrain your fellow "deans" listed herein from abusing their offices to single out a current student for public censure. Perhaps worst of all, you have failed to protect students from Fr. Orsi's public tirades or his private bullying/intimidation/spiritual coercion sessions. I personally made you aware of some specific incidents last year (and understand that others have done the same over the past two years), but you expressed your helplessness to deal with them - or him. Most of us have wanted to believe that you are a fundamentally decent person trapped in a difficult situation, but your job is to protect students, and in that endeavor you have failed abysmally.

Dean Roboski: You have only been at AMSL for a short time, and your position necessitates that you imagine the law school to offer an atmosphere conducive to legal education as well as a warm community environment. Sadly, you never had occasion to see AMSL when this was still accurate. In light of this, it may be unfair to say that you are misleading prospective students; however, you can no longer remain nescient of reality while objectively immoral deeds are perpetrated against others around you. You are dean, but you are also supposed to be a man: Open your eyes and act like one.

Dean Zyskowski: I have always hoped that you too have been completely ignorant of the wretched doings of this administration (meaning that you know about as much about what's going on at AMSL as Michael Novak). In particular, I wonder if you have any knowledge of the Dean's various efforts to preclude those alumni who have dared to speak out from acquiring or maintaining employment. I don't expect that you will dare ask the Dean whether he has ever done this, but if you do, also have the courage to believe what your instincts tell you about to the veracity of his response.

Dean Keesler: Until last week, no one knew what it is that you do for the Dean. Now we do: Publicly excoriating students. Dean Dobranski might well declare you Ambassador to the United Nations or Attorney General for Wales - it would be as tenuously moored to reality. That you have been to date unwilling to disclose the nature of your work is further evidence of the pathetic farce that characterizes AMSL's governance. The positions the Dean created for you (and others) has become, quite literally, a joke. If his tenure lasts long enough, AMSL will no doubt have a Dean of IT, a Dean of Maintenance, and a Dean of Toilet Attendants - anyone who will do his dirty work. To express disappointment in you would be to tacitly acknowledge expectations: For you, there were none. So don't take yourself too seriously; no one else does.

Dean Milhizer: If the Associate Dean (that's you) is unaware of why the letter to Damon Garcia was unacceptable on its face, then there's little that may be usefully said. You can't be blamed for transforming AMSL into the Orwellian nightmare that it is, but you might unbury your head.

The administration's treatment of dissenting board members, faculty, staff, alumni and students in recent years might best be summed up in a single word: Disgusting. In particular, a specific accusation against Professor Stephen Safranek - an alleged tap on the arm, which Dean Dobranski luridly implied to have been sexual in nature - is unspeakably revolting. Each of you is now linked inextricably to the shameful pattern of conduct of the administration you so readily serve. At the very least, dispense with any pretense to a claim to the moral high ground: The administration surrendered that long ago.

Last year on the SBA, I had occasion to work with Damon Garcia, then serving as a 2L Senator. He was always thoughtful and respectful of others, deliberate in his votes, and never rash. We probably disagreed more than we agreed (he was reluctant to find any fault with the administration then), but our relationship remained professional and courteous. This year, the SBA appears to be very amenable (to put it mildly) to the will of the administration, and the best interests of the students have been traded for promises made to certain quislings behind closed doors. At least one Senator has even acted as an informer to the administration on his fellow students, thereby revealing his own lack of integrity and character. (We all know who he is, but I'll spare him the humiliation here.) This is the nature of the current student leadership: The first SBA ever to become, in effect, an arm of the administration. Nevertheless, students like Damon, who have the courage to speak out in good conscience, should not be bullied by useful idiots or their disgraceful letters. One exceptionally baffling excerpt from your communique was this:

We have been encouraged by the many examples of community building and healing so far this year. We hope that the past can now be finally put in the past and we can all join together to move forward in a productive manner.

You might try to understand that the consciences of some do not permit them to simply put the administration's ongoing and egregious abuses into "the past," however morally or professionally convenient this might be for the five of you. It's time for each of you to remember whom it is that you do serve: Not the Dean; not the Chairman or his investments; not your own fear-based self-interest. You serve the students. Remember it quickly, or have the decency to find another line of work - preferably one that will not besmirch the value of such honorary designations as "dean." Shame on the lot of you.


Andrew Doran
Class of 2007

Cc: Past SBA Presidents; SBA Executive Board; Alumni Board; Hulett Askew; Daniel Freehling; Edward Butterfoss.

Fumed by Tommy More at 2:38 PM. |

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Blog Coverage of the AMSL Lawsuit

TaxProf Blog has a good list of the blog coverage of the faculty lawsuit against AMSL, Dobranski, and Monaghan.

Fumed by Thales at 5:59 PM. |

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Why I Find the Deanery Letter to be Ridiculous

I find the Deanery Response to the Honor Board Chair (HBC) to be ridiculous. Some of these points have already been made by commenters, but here is why I think so.

The Deanery Letter says that the HBC statement "contains a series of statements that range from disputed interpretations of events to outright misstatements or omissions of facts" and that it "contains a number of statements that are questionable or factually inaccurate." Yet, the Deanery Letter itself, hypocritically, contains misstatements and omissions of facts, creating questionable or factually inaccurate statements. Ridiculous, I say.

First, the Deanery disagrees with the HBC statement that C. Rice and J. Ryan were "removed" from the Board of Governors. I recognize that might have been a poor choice of words by the HBC because Ryan resigned and Rice was term-limited out. The Deanery, however, fails to acknowledge that both events may have been involuntary (the Rice term-limiting was definitely involuntary, and we don't know all the circumstances of the Ryan resignation).

But the greater hyprocrisy is when the Deanery claims that it is inaccurate to say that three professors were "removed" from the law school. The Deanery says that Prof. Safranek was not "removed" from the school because he is "involved in a pending personnel matter." Ridiculous. Let's go over the facts omitted by the Deanery: Prof. Safranek has been removed from teaching classes this year and all years in the future; he has been suspended and removed from the school's payroll; he has been physically removed from his office, from campus, and from any law school event (such as the Ave Maria Lecture). He has been removed from the law school community. The Deanery reason that Prof. Safranek is not removed because personnel proceedings are pending is illogical. It's like saying that a defendant convicted at trial and currently imprisoned has not been removed from his family, his job, and his community because his appeal is pending. That makes no sense.

This same criticism applies to the situation with Profs. Lyons and Pucillo, who have been removed from teaching classes this year, have been removed from the permanent faculty of AMSL (they have been removed from tenure-track faculty and necessarily will not be AMSL professors next school year), and have been physically removed from the building. It is ridiculous to claim that ending the employment of professors (effectively now, because they are barred from the school, and officially on paper in 10 months) is not removing the professors from the school.

The Deanery then says that not receiving tenure and being provided with a paid leave of absence during their terminal year is "often the case in academic institutions." Wrong. First, it is not normal for an unanimous faculty recommendation in favor of tenure to be overruled by the Dean and/or Board of Governors. Second, per the Faculty Handbook, professors denied tenure will "ordinarily" be reappointed for one more teaching year, not unwillingly placed on leave of absence.

Finally, the Deanery claims that the charge that there is an "intimidation campaign" is "baseless, reckless, and offensive," as they have not intimidated anyone and are not aware of an intimidation campaign. Let me quote the Association of Ave Maria Faculty from their April 30, 2007 statement (which happened before the removal of Safranek, Lyons, and Pucillo):
Since the vote of "no confidence" in Dean Dobranski in April 2006 over issues of faculty governance and academic freedom, he has used threats and retaliation to try to silence members of the faculty from voicing concerns about his leadership and that of Mr. Monaghan. A majority of the faculty whom the Dean believes to be disloyal to him have been punished financially and through manipulation of the promotion and tenure system. One tenured faculty member has been repeatedly threatened with termination based upon bizarre allegations. Junior faculty members have been threatened that their careers would be harmed if they associate with disfavored tenured faculty. We have also been informed that Dean Dobranski had instituted a system of monitoring our emails and computers, and student research assistants have been closely questioned about research projects of disfavored faculty members. All tenured faculty members have been removed from the Chairs of faculty committees, and such chairs are now in the control of the few faculty members whom the Dean believes to be loyal to him. Cumulatively, such intimidation and bullying has created an intolerable atmosphere of fear and contempt at our school.
"Intimidation" is not something which the HBC came up with out of thin air. The faculty describe the events at AMSL as "intimidation."

It is pathetic for the Deanery to jump all over the HBC, who is restating the views of many of the faculty members. Deanery, if you are going to sit back and criticize the use of the word "intimidation," then be adults, grow up, and publish a letter denouncing Profs. Myers, Murphy, Falvey, and the other faculty members. They agree with the HBC's position, and if you've got a problem with Damon, you've got a problem with the professors like Myers, Murphy, and Falvey. Damon, thank you for your courage.

To Michelle and Aaron: I used to think better of you two. It's a shame to see you sign such a ridiculous letter.

Fumed by Thales at 3:23 PM. |

Fr. Paul M. Quay, S.J.

In my ongoing series of tributes to "Tough Old Jesuits," today I profile

Fr. Paul M. Quay, S.J., Research Professor of Philosophy, Loyola University Chicago.

A big hat tip to Dr. Ed Peters and his wonderful site (Thales--for the love of God add this to the blogroll already!!) for providing this biography of Fr. Quay.

Paul Michael Quay was born in Arkansas on August 24, 1924. After military service he entered the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus on September 1, 1946, and was ordained to the priesthood on June 11, 1961. He died in Chicago at Loyola University on October 10, 1994, at the age of 70. His doctorate in theoretical physics was from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied under Professor Alfred Shatkin—a convinced atheist who forced Quay to answer hard questions about why Catholics are no better and often worse than atheists. Quay did a year of postdoctoral research in physics at the Case Institute of Technology and then taught physics and theology at St. Louis University for fourteen years, returning to Chicago in 1981. He wrote over seventy-five scholarly articles and the book, The Christian Meaning of Human Sexuality (1988) which has been translated into several languages. At the time of his death he held the position of Research Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University in Chicago.

Quay’s outstanding contribution to Roman Catholic studies in the United States is his posthumous book, edited by Joseph Koterski, S.J., in 438 pages: The Mystery Hidden for Ages in God. After the initial input from Shatkin during the years of Quay’s doctoral studies, the book was first conceived as a project in 1964 through conversation in France with Winoc De Broucker, S.J., and then again gained momentum in 1969 as a result of further investigation at Fourvière, the Jesuit theologate in Lyon, with Henri de Lubac, S.J. It explores the thought of de Lubac on the patristic theme of recapitulation, and was distilled into its present form after being presented first as a university course, then as symposium lectures, then as essays. The Mystery Hidden for Ages in God (1995) is thus the result of thirty years of meditation upon recapitulation, that is, how the individual Christian goes through “biblical stages” of gradual transformation into the likeness of Christ. From Rev. Brian Van Hove, S.J., FCS Quarterly, 27:4, p. 8 (Winter 2004) PDF. See also this 1991 Touchstone interview.

Also: Toward an Understanding of Academic Freedom (1994).

I would encourage all to visit Dr. Peters site to view many of Fr. Quay's fine articles. (Here also is a great picture of Father's ordination.) FUMARE has cited Fr. Quay numerous times before in other contexts, but I have found the following to be most powerful and worthy of frequent meditation:
To an even greater degree, Catholics who have matured to this point have always been forced into a ghetto— often enough by their fellow Catholics. This is not usually a constriction in living quarters but of exclusion from the exercise of their competencies in dealing with the issues that most concern their lives, their country, and the Church. Though they may think that they are bumping into invisible walls, set up to keep them out of positions of influence, more often it is they who are invisible. They are passed over and ignored by people who may have no dislike for them but who sense them as strangers to the life of the world around them.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 11:44 AM. |

Friday, October 19, 2007

I Want a Letter!

Some Honor Board member expresses his views of the AMSL situation and he gets this from the ever expanding AMSL Deanery! Bottom line, I'm pissed that FUMARE hasn't received a letter from the Deans! What do we have to do to get one of these letters? Who do we have to piss off?

UPDATE: We may have gotten something better! I still would like to know where the "false statements" are that are the sine qua non of the ubiquitous calumny charge against bloggers in general and FUMARE in particular. (Incidentally, do we want to bet when Bernie will send this article around to the law school community ala'Novak?)

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 10:52 AM. |

Honor Board and the AMSL Deans Debate

Below is the entire record of events concerning the debate between the Honor Board Chair and the Associate and Assistant Deans of AMSL.

First, the Honor Board Chair made a statement at the October 15, 2007 AMSL SBA meeting. The statement was recorded in the minutes of the meeting. The meeting minutes were distributed to the AMSL community in the normal fashion, just as all SBA minutes are distributed. This is the Honor Board Chair statement:

Letter to Ave Maria School of Law

I have been asked by students to offer my opinion in the matter of the disharmony of our school's community as the Chairman of the Honor Board and an Officer of the St. Thomas More Society.

I do not speak with the authority of the Honor Board for our jurisdiction is limited to academic conduct. And I do not speak with the authority of my Office in the St. Thomas More Society for our jurisdiction is limited to the oversight of student organizations. However, I do speak as a concerned 3L for the community of our school.

Our school was conceived by the ideas, prayers, sacrifices, hard work, and families of five professors: Professor Safranek, Professor Kenney, Professor Falvey, Professor Murphy, and Professor Myers.

This life developed with the guidance, sacrifice, and hard work of Dean Dobranski and the gracious donation of money from Mr. Tom Monaghan.

With the Grace of God, this union gave birth to Ave Maria School of Law. It is honest to concede that our school would not exist but for the guidance, sacrifice, and hard work of Dean Dobranski and the gracious donation of money from Mr. Monaghan.

What we have failed to remember, most particularly the leaders of our school, is that without the ideas, prayers, sacrifices, hard work, and families of five professors, our school would not exist.

Furthermore, the resulting academic excellence at Ave Maria and the competency of Her graduates were the direct result of the faculty who, from the beginning, taught every class and developed the formation of the law school community.

After several years had past and the unprecedented success of our school was unequivocally evident, Mr. Monaghan received an offer to build another community with a promising future.

Mr. Monaghan then proceeded to make plans to move our school down south. From the outset of this new venture, two very distinguished members of the Board of Governors opposed the plans: Professor Emeritus Charles E. Rice of Notre Dame and the Honorable James L. Ryan of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. These men were removed from the Board.

The founding professors and other professors comprising a majority of our school's faculty also opposed the plans presented by Mr. Monaghan. So began an intimidation campaign resulting in great division, scandal, and controversy. Neither side blameless.

This past summer three of our best professors, one of which is a founding faculty member, were removed from our school preceded and proceeded by an exodus of students, professors, and staff.

Is there perhaps something obviously wrong about this situation?

Our purpose in life is to seek the truth, strive to perfect virtue, and praise God. If we turn a blind eye to injustice, then we are not seeking the truth, striving to perfect virtue, or praising God.

At this point, our community must humbly go before our Lord and ask for forgiveness. We must reunite from division. This includes those who have been demoralized from the scandal, controversy, and betrayal.

An opportunity to reunite is the 2007 Honor Code Ceremony on Oct. 31st at 3:45pm in the Library. You can publicly recommit your life to seeking the truth, striving to perfect virtue, and praising God. This is one of many steps necessary to bring peace to our school. Also, there are open slots to lead the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, and Liturgy of the Hours; there are back-ups needed for Adoration.

To begin is for everyone, to persevere is for saints.

Omnes cum Petro ad Jesum per Mariam.

God love you.


Damon Garcia
The Associate and Assistant Deans of AMSL then sent the following letter to the Law School community:
October 18, 2007

Letter to the Law School Community:

The minutes of the October 15, 2007 Student Bar Association meeting included a letter from the chair of the Law School's Honor Board. As the Associate and Assistant Deans of Ave Maria School of Law, we believe this letter should not go unchallenged. The letter contains a series of statements that range from disputed interpretations of events to outright misstatements or omissions of facts. The author attempts to dissociate himself from his role on the Honor Board and purports to speak in his personal capacity as a third-year student, but by his own statement he indicates that he was asked to opine because of his leadership position. And, while he correctly points out that the scope of our Honor Board is limited to academic misconduct, it is reasonable to expect that the members of our Honor Board should conduct themselves in a manner that respects both the substantive and aspirational aspects of the Honor Code, with circumspection and a careful fidelity to the truth.

The letter contains a number of statements that are questionable or factually inaccurate. We will mention only three. First, and contrary to the author's contention, it is indisputably clear that Judge Ryan was not removed from the Board but in fact resigned, and his gracious letter of resignation was published to the Law School community. Further, to be factually accurate, Professor Rice's term as a Board member had expired, as well as the terms of other Board members, and the implementation of term limits led to the appointment of new Board members. In some sense of the word this could amount to "removal" but not as the letter suggests. Second, it is also inaccurate to state that three professors were removed from our school, when in fact one is involved in a pending personnel matter and two did not receive tenure and were provided with a paid leave of absence during their terminal year, as is often the case in academic institutions. Third, the author refers to an "intimidation campaign." As administrators of this Law School, we find this charge to be reckless and baseless, and offensive. We have not intimidated anyone, nor are we aware of any campaign to intimidate.

For a member of our Honor Board to make such statements to the community is disappointing at best. And, while the author expresses a desire to "bring peace to our school," it is difficult to understand how this goal is advanced by his provocative statements, which are self-evidently contentious and are likely to be divisive.

We have been encouraged by the many examples of community building and healing so far this year. We hope that the past can now be finally put in the past and we can all join together to move forward in a productive manner.


Eugene Milhizer
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Kaye Castro
Associate Dean for Student Affairs

Charles Roboski
Associate Dean for Admissions and External Affairs

Aaron Keesler
Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs

Michelle Zyskowski
Assistant Dean for Career Services
The Honor Board Chair then made this reply:
From: Ave Maria Honor Board
Sent: Friday, October 19, 2007 01:11
To: Milhizer, Eugene R; All Law System Distribution
Subject: RE: Letter to the Community

Those good people were effectively removed. I hope to see you at the Honor Code Ceremony.

Matthew 4:10



Fumed by Tommy More at 10:44 AM. |

$100 Million? Expected? The Dean's likely Settlement Strategy.

For all the cabin saints, who run around praising the $50 million pledged and spent, take a look at complaint paragraph 48 which states that Dollarbransky and Moneyhand were promising to the ABA and the faculty that $100 Million was to be invested in AMSOL.

Promised to the ABA? Now it makes a little more sense why the ABA stuff from last fall seems different from the ABA letter this year. I don't want to analyze that fact here, but rather point out that Uncle Tom has been derelict in his spending promises to the MICHIGAN nonprofit.

I like Dollarboy's exclamation "which we been expecting." Here's why I like it: He wanted them to sue in order to get to the point of the Monaghan settlement. If it went in the typical fashion, he can lock up the record-keeping Safranek and put him to pasture with a sanction-executing settlement.

If my dim view can see this much of it, I'm sure Safranek, Pucillo, and Lyons already have it figured out.

Plus, can anybody trust Dollarboy's statement about the lawsuit when we've already seen him misrepresent the ABA letter?

It's not the lawsuit ruining the school... it's the misfeasance (like firing these guys) and the lies, outright bold lies ruining and destroying the school.

Fumed by Casimir Pulaski at 8:49 AM. |

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Local Fox TV Report on AMSL Lawsuit

Check out the TV News Report from Fox Detroit that aired tonight on the lawsuit filed against AMSL, Monaghan, and Dobranski. Attorney Deborah Gordon, Professor Lyons, and Professor Pucillo are interviewed.

Fumed by Thales at 9:10 PM. |

Email from Dobranski on Lawsuit

Here is Dean Dobranski's email response to the lawsuit filed by Professors Safranek, Lyons, and Pucillo.

From: Dobranski, Bernard
Sent: Thu 10/18/2007 6:06 PM
To: All Law System Distribution; All Alumni
Subject: Lawsuit Filed

Dear Ave Maria School of Law Community,

As we have expected for some time, Professors Safranek, Pucillo and Lyons today filed a lawsuit against AMSL and various individuals -- myself included. We are confident that the actions of the School of Law were both proper and legal, and we look forward to the court coming to this same conclusion.

Dean Bernard Dobranski

Fumed by Tommy More at 7:42 PM. |


Suit has been filed. Read the complaint.

UPDATE: These legal blogs are picking this up: Leiter, MOJ.
(I'm sure more will be forthcoming.)

UPDATE II: The folks in Florida are reading about it.

UPDATE III: The Wall Street Journal blog and Above the Law report.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 12:28 PM. |

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tobacco is Good for You

Taking a cue from Molnar's comment in my last post and in my continuing effort to restore Fumare to its proud roots might I suggest SmokingPipes.com. An excellent site with many fine tobaccos to purchase. Allow me to suggest this one. Enjoy!

(N.B. I hope that one of my Fumare brothers can place this as a permanent link on the blogroll to the right.)

Fumed by Petronius at 12:47 PM. |

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"Better that boy stop a bullet in the battlefield than have carved his initials in my pew."

Readers of FUMARE know well of my training by the Jesuits and my continued devotion to that great religious order. Elsewhere I have brought to our readers' attention the contributions of some fine Jesuit legal scholars to American Jurisprudence. Before Charlie Rice was the standard-bearer for a restoration of a natural law jurisprudence over and against the dominating legal positivism, these men were fighting the battles during an age where the world saw the horrors of legal positivism writ large.(Incidentally, these Jesuits were the same men who taught Rice when he was but a stripling at Boston College Law.) Though junior to the Benedictines, Franciscans, and Dominicans, the Jesuits have long been recognized as the intellectual elite of the Church. With the Fourth Vow of especial obedience to the Roman Pontiff, the Jesuits were also at the forefront of evangelization and intellectual pursuit in the service of the Church and the world.

Unfortunately that is not so apparent anymore. Most of the stories we read today about the Society of Jesus generally concern indifferentism towards sodomy, apologists for pro-abortion politicians, peaceniks who protest the US Military, sodomy, love of heresy, and promotion of sodomy. In the face of these hijackers of the Society, I make bold to bring forth examples of "Tough Old Jesuits" to counter the sissification of the Society and as an encouragement to solid and faithful Jesuits laboring in less-than-faithful communities. I make no apologies for my candid assessment of some in the Society today. My only apologies are to my beloved Jesuit professors and mentors--living and dead--that my elegance in speech and expression of thought fall quite short of their high standards. To them I offer a mea maxima culpa. Today, I present:

Fr. James J. Mertz, S.J., Professor of Latin, Loyola University Chicago.

Father Mertz joined the Loyola faculty in 1922, teaching Latin, Greek and ancient Greek and Roman civilization. He was the driving force behind the construction of Madonna della Strada Chapel--raising funds and completing it even amidst the Great Depression. His moving account of the construction of that chapel bespeaks his great love for Our Lady and Her Son. He continued teaching until he was (literally) told to stop by his superiors in the mid-1970's. He finally retired from teaching at the young age of 96. His scholarly work brought forth Jesuit Latin Poets of the 17th and 18th Centuries. I find the reminiscence of Mr. Bert Hoffman of Chicago to be a most wonderful example of Fr. Mertz's priesthood,

Fr. James Mertz used to come once a month from Loyola University Chicago to St. Timothy's to offer Mass and talk about Madonna della Strada chapel on Loyola's campus, which I later found out was his life's magnum opus. I served Mass for him. He always had good, friendly words for us in the sacristy.

I "heard" him again while the student body at Loyola Academy was marching out of his chapel one day in 1943. Suddenly we were halted in our steps when we heard a voice that sounded like the wrath of God thunder, "Better that boy stop a bullet in the battlefield than have carved his initials in my pew." I can still hear his awful anger.

At two in the afternoon, our principal, Fr. Walker, announced that Fr. Mertz didn't say those words. The heck he didn't! Fr. Mertz also taught the religion class at Loyola University in 1947 that formed my religious life.

Contained in that small space from Mr. Hoffman are all the hallmarks of a good Jesuit priest: offering Mass and performing the sacraments; concern for the things of God; friendly and good to his young charges; anger at the desecration of the sacred; consummate scholar and dedicated teacher; and a muscular faith that forms good Christian men. Let us pray for more Fr. Mertzes.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 5:00 PM. |

Monday, October 15, 2007

"The Third Contingent"

If you enter such a church while Mass is going on, you'll notice three distinct categories of visitors: worshipers clustered in the pews near the altar, obviously partaking of the Mass; tourists strolling around with their maps and videocams, obviously not partaking; and a third group sitting or kneeling in the gloom at the back of the church or in the side aisles. Their connection with the Eucharistic action is not clear. They don't want to be seen as participating in the Mass; in fact, they don't want to be seen at all.

This third contingent has a heterogeneous composition. Some are pious Catholics engaged in private prayer. Some are seekers: non-Catholics who find themselves attracted to the Church and her Eucharist and who want to take in as much as they can of the experience without committing themselves. Still others, I surmise, have been estranged from the Church by divorce and remarriage or by a gay entanglement and yet can't shake the spiritual conviction that it's the Church, at bottom, that has it right. They're afraid to get too close, yet they can't tear themselves away entirely. They put me in mind of St. Peter, warming his hands at the fire in the high priest's courtyard

The rest of Uncle Di's post is well worth the read.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 12:22 PM. |

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Some Required Reading

Required reading for all. Hope all are having a pleasant fall weekend!

Fumed by Petronius at 11:45 AM. |

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Prayer for Rick Convertino and His Family

Richard Convertino, friend of AMSL and former AMSL trial advocacy professor, began his criminal trial this week before United States District Judge Arthur Tarnow, in Detroit. The jury was impaneled on Wednesday, October 10, and the Government has begun its case-in-chief against Convertino. This has to be an extremely difficult time for himself and his family, so please say a prayer for them, that they may have strength and that God's Will may be done. Convertino is being prosecuted for lying to a jury and obstruction of justice, after a high-profile post-9/11 terrorism trial, on which Convertino was lead counsel, fell apart in a debacle. Convertino believes that the Department of Justice is unjustly making Convertino the scapegoat.

The Detroit News has some good coverage with this article setting out the background of the case. An interesting wrinkle in the case (and good news for Convertino) is that the Government's first witness admitted that he lied under oath at a pretrial hearing. I'll be keeping an eye on the case and seeing how it progresses in the weeks ahead.

Fumed by Thales at 10:44 AM. |

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Vote for the American Papist!

Fumare friend Mr. Thomas Peters a.k.a. American Papist, is one of 20 finalists for the 2007 College Blogging Scholarship. It looks like last year's winner was a liberal Daily Kos supporter, so it would be great to see American Papist do well. It only takes a second to vote for him, so do it now!

Fumed by Thales at 12:41 PM. |

A Bold Idea: Catholic Law School & MBA Program

Despite the unflattering photo of myself with Mr. Kahn bellow, I join arms with Advocatus Militaris and his Modest Proposal and add what might be a Bold Idea that could solve some of the funding issues associated with a law school start up.

St. Borromeo School of Law & The Francis Drexel MBA Program

(Borromeo was a civil and canon lawyer who was likely the source of key passages of the Declaration of Independence. Francis Drexel was the father of St. Katherine Drexel and a prominent business man. Here is a talk given to the Chicago Catholic business community about being a Catholic businessman. Drexel knew how to be a Catholic tycoon, unlike some. These names are just suggestions.)

As you know there is a bit of a restoration occurring among the professions. AMSL for law, the IPS for psychology, ND's program for Architecture, however there are no MBA programs that take Catholic Social Teaching seriously.

Yes, St. Thomas U and ND talk about "ethics" but scratch deeper and talk to serious Catholics who have taken the programs and you will find situation ethics and really no integration with the Mind and Heart of the Faith.

This is an opportunity and creates a unique offering in the market that would attract national and international investors in such a project (remember that the dollar is really weak re: the Euro and so getting European investors will bump up their donation when converted to dollars). Additionally, there are a number of very successful Catholic business people who are moving into the philanthropic phase of their careers and would like to see their wealth make an impact that is meaningful.

The combination of law and business also recognizes the nature of the culture war we are fighting - yes, it is legal but it is also about the excesses of capitalism - materialism and consumerism. What institutions exist to teach young Catholics how to be Catholic in the business world, and how to create businesses and organizational culture that is deeply Catholic and makes an impact on the wider culture? How many of our social and policy problems really have at their root economic underpinnings?

This is something that hasn't been done . . . yet.

There is a saturation in the market for law schools and there is quite a bit of differentiation occurring. Creating a program that is focused on advancing Catholic legal and business scholarship and is innovative in taking a practical approach to learning, would be attractive especially when the focus is on producing Catholic professionals who want to change the culture.

Prof. Lee, when asked about Catholic MBA programs said there are none because MBA programs teach people how to be pirates - they are institutions deeply opposed to the Faith.

I have a friend currently in the ND MBA program and another at Northwestern. Both want a Catholic MBA education, but it doesn't exist. They tell stories about how antagonistic these programs are to a Catholic sensibility.

A joint JD/MBA program with a bright and bold Catholic mission would be very distinctive and attractive institution. As part of this institution, a Catholic venture capital network would be created to support business viable ventures developed in part by the students. You can see how this could develop . . .

Just recreating AMSL without Monaghan is a great idea, but at this point, the idea has to offer more both in its Catholic and professional dimension to attract the big bucks. We aren't looking for a "Monaghan" to fund a new law school, we are looking for investors to build an institution that will produce generations of "Monaghans," albeit with a deeply formed Catholic worldview.

What are your thoughts?

Fumed by Columcille at 11:45 AM. |

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Modest Proposal

Recent reports have confirmed that Dobranski and Monaghan are solidifying their strangle-hold on AMSL. With the removal of Professors Safranek, Lyons, and Pucillo and the hiring of new professors at AMSL, the Dean is stacking the deck to ensure that the Founding Faculty and those other faculty critical of the school's governance are now outnumbered. The practical effect of this is to resolve the ABA's concern over the standard violation with newer faculty who may take the side of the Dean. Now, to be fair, I am not judging the posture of these new faculty members. They will make up their own minds as to the governance issues. To say the least, the position the Dean finds himself in is quite convenient even if Prof. Sonne is eventually planning to move to California (he is isn't he?). Similarly, there are credible reports that the composition of the SBA has changed with the entrance of the new 1L class. Indeed, some of these 1L representatives have expressed a desire to compose a statement of confidence in Dobranski's administration and a public thank you to Michael Novak for his recent piece on National Review Online. Whether this is further evidence of diminished standards and the acceptance of intellectually-challenged students or whether this is the overzealous workings of individuals lacking in historical perspective, I do not know. What is apparent, however, is that the alumni (and some independent voices) remains the only group who is making any appreciable noise as to the injustices perpetrated on our alma mater by Messrs. Monaghan and Dobranski.

What then to do? I think that I am correct when I state that lawyers are generally risk averse. If this is laudable at all, it is in that it demonstrates the underlying virtue of prudentia--which is made concrete in discretion of action. Sometimes, however, taking a risk is necessary. The risk I suggest may be radical, but I think it sane in that it gets to the roots. It may be difficult, but it should not be left untried simply because it is difficult. It should only be left untried if there is no will to do it. I contend that the will to do it is there, the people to do it are there, and the resources to do it are there. The "it" that I speak of is the maintenance of Catholic legal education in southeast Michigan. Let Mr. Monaghan develop his Catholic Disneyland in Florida, let us start a new law school in Michigan--small, Catholic, ABA accredited, a community effort and with a curriculum informed by the teachings of Church and a natural law jurisprudence.

Sounds familiar doesn't it? The Founding Faculty have done this before, let us encourage them to do it again! This is an express call to the Founding Faculty and their fellow travellers to unite in an effort to maintain this education in Michigan. I am confident that intellectual support would be forthcoming from the broader Academy as evidenced by the recent statement by the Mirror of Justice scholars as well as such Catholic luminaries as Ed Peters and Janet Smith. In addition, I am also confident that Professor Charles Rice would lend his name to such a venture. Further, the good relations forged with the legal profession in the Midwest would serve well in such a project. Friends in the federal and state judiciaries as well as in firms and government practice would surely lend support. Most importantly, I think there might be a few others who would be interested. Whence the money? Obviously essential. Bottom line we need to get it! We need to pound the pavement and realize that it will not come as easily as it did for the founding of AMSL. Nor do we want money that comes with strings attached! Perhaps we ought to take the Mother Angelica approach and pray before the Blessed Sacrament.

I ask my colleagues here on FUMARE to support this proposal and add anything else that I may have missed. Further, I ask the alumni of Ave Maria School of Law to consider such a proposal and pool efforts with our Founding Faculty to maintain this educational opportunity in Michigan. It is not the intent of this post to give the details for a plan of action, rather it is a broad outline for an end result. I leave the details to those smarter ones among us. Again, this should only be left untried if there is no will to do it. I believe the will to do it is there. I believe that the mission of such a school is not the intellectual property of Tom Monaghan, rather it is our birthright as human persons and our inheritance as children of Mother Church.

Fumed by Advocatus Militaris at 11:15 PM. |

Monday, October 08, 2007

Columbus Day Fumare Pics

Advocatus Militaris still writes from an undisclosed location. While he can comment, he is not able to compose a main post. He sent this along for your consumption:

At the outset, I wish to express my continued thanks to Tommy More for posting my offerings. It is a risk for him to have my offerings above his name, but he is both generous and of good humor. For this, he deserves my undying gratitude. Things have been very interesting lately! Not least of which is another demonstration that the various contributors to FUMARE disagree on a number of issues. Columcille's latest offering highlighted some of those differences and disagreements. Issues of war, economics, and strong drink have divided and continue to divide FUMARE's contributors. Group-think has never been a problem amongst this crowd. Nevertheless, a desire for a clear, level-headed and faithful articulation of the Catholic Faith has been one of the hallmarks of this blog.

Throughout the ages, certain types of men have been the backbone of the Church. Our Lord recognized this when He chose to grow up subject to a carpenter and when He chose some fishermen as his first bishops. While doctors, lawyers, and professors are important and do much to further the Kingdom, we mustn't lose sight of soldiers, farmers and mechanics. These are the guys whose masculine Catholicism is responsible for large families, priests and religious vocations, and common sense in the face of the "better ideas" of professionals. They are a healthy and sane paradigm of masculinity in a world that so desparately needs it. Bottom line: Don't mess with Soldiers, Farmers, or Mechanics! (Also, don't mess with FUMARE!)

Happy Columbus Day!

(pictured left to right) TheLawDog, Advocatus Militaris, Casimir Pulaski.

(pictured left to right) Columcille and Casey Khan (included because of his thoughtful offerings in the comboxes)

(pictured left to right) AMSOL Pioneer, Phlogizo, and Petronius.

Fumed by Tommy More at 8:58 PM. |

More on the Novak Blathering

This point may have already been made in one of the combox discussions, but it bears more attention.

Michael Novak made the astonishing claim that:

Law professors have competence in academic matters, including tenure procedures, but do not have competence in the fiduciary responsibilities and due diligence of the Board.

Implicit in this statement is that people who are on Boards, such as the one he is involved with at Ave Maria University, DO have "competence" in "fiduciary responsibilities" and "due diligence."

Presumably, this includes "competencies" of Boards to be in compliance with accreditation standards of Board membership.

Here are a couple of choice quotes to help illuminate the "competencies" of the Boards that Novak is referring:

Dr. Candace de Russy, 2006 Chair of AMU's Board of Regents:

As chair, AveWatch asked for clarification on the roles between "Regents" and "Trustees" - specifically if Regents are merely advisory to the Trustees, with the Trustees having final authority to set university policies. Dr. de Russy responded, "I think you are correct but it would be good to get the actual language of the by-laws exact."

"I think"? Does Dr. de Russy not have a copy of the by-laws? The chair of AMU's Board of Regents, who has been with AMU through the last two years offering (presumably) pivotal input on the school's development, isn't 100% certain (without checking the by-laws) if her board serves in an advisory or policy-setting capacity? That is telling.

Judge James Ryan, AMSL and AMC Board member to faculty; New Oxford Review, Sept. 2003:

We [the Board] are just here to help Tom spend his money. We all need to remember that this is Tom's enterprise.

For more on the run-away conflict of interest and lack of competencies of the Boards of Ave Maria: see here, and here.

What does this say about Novak's creditability, never mind his "competence," as a public intellectual who claims fidelity to the magisterium?

Is Novak a competent articulator of Catholic teaching?

No and No.

Novak is a Whig apologists of the Enlightenment project and uses Catholicism to attempt to "baptise" what is incompatable with it, be that in matters of war, commerce or the unique "competencies" of corporate leaders to violate core principles of Catholic Social Teaching in the name of "best interest."

Fumed by Columcille at 12:24 PM. |

A Very Real Threat to Our Republic

Over the last several weeks, there has been raging a controversy over Rush Limbaugh's use of the term "phony soldiers" during the course of his radio program of several weeks ago. Some have taken to the floor of the United States Senate to ask the Congress to condemn Limbaugh's use of the phrase as applied to soldiers who diasagree with the war. Media Matters (a liberal group) first broke the "story" and--aparently--supplied the talking points to the Democrat leaders in Congress. The mainstream media outlets also took to reporting the controversy in earnest. For several days, Limbaugh devoted much of his program to defending himself. The transcript of his remarks was readily available and an honest read of his remarks in context demonstrates the dishonesty of Media Matters, the mainstream media, and Democrat Senators.

While ancillary arguments abounded in the wake of the controversy over who is more supportive of the military etc., I saw a larger and deeper problem. One that, I would conjecture, threatens the very foundation of our republic more than Islamo-fascism: the intentional propagating of a lie in order to achieve a desired political result. What is striking about this episode is the lengths that our national leaders have gone to in order to try to discredit an opposing political commentator and private citizen. So-called "responsible" reporters have (what can only be called willfully) ignored the evidence (i.e., Limbaugh's transcript) and have joined with these Congressional leaders in an attempt to discredit a political commentator. Most common sense people will see this as nothing new in the realm of politics. In fact, unfortunately, this is likely the rule rather than the exception. Potestas causa potestatis.

It is one thing to vehemently disagree. It is another to make fun of an opponent. However, it threatens the very foundation of our republic (and, dare I say, civilization) if we look the other way when our nation's leaders have no regard for truth--ignoring it when it suits them or defining in accord with their small political worldview. Of course, this is the responsibility of every individual in his every day discourse and commerce with his fellow man. We must hold ourselves to a high standard of truthfulness in our dealings with others. Truly, honesty is none other than humility in the face of reality. Let us not replace the solid foundations of truth and honesty with expedience and this-worldly gain. As we have seen before, this leads to murder.

Fumed by Petronius at 11:57 AM. |

Friday, October 05, 2007

Catholic University

Here is a thoughtful piece that would, if written by someone else, inspire us all.

Mine might be a minority viewpoint here, but I find myself wanting to be inspired by the magnum opus Mr. Monaghan is doing in Florida. I see his promo videos, I read articles like this, and I would like to see his venture succeed. Another strong Catholic college (and law school) would only be a good thing for the Church in America. It's a very sad thing that this viewpoint is not reciprocated, and that Mr. Monaghan sees AMSOL (in Michigan) as a failed experiment that he can just abandon in favor of his new project.

Anyway, I wanted to throw this link out so you could see InsideCatholic.com. At least one or two of their editors are somewhat sympathetic to us, though they have avoided discussing our situation thus far.

Fumed by AMSOL Pioneer at 12:19 PM. |

AMSOL 2006 Form 990 is Reality Check for the Pro-Breach Crowd

Thanks to a diligent commenter last night who pointed out that the 2006 IRS Form 990 is available for public scrutiny at the Foundation Center.

As others have begun looking it over, some highlights are that the school takes in $10,000,000.00 (million) in tuition revenue as is; the By-laws of the Boards of Governors is printed in the form now; and Bernie's salary hasn't been docked for the lack of world-class performance, maintaining around 330k in straight salary bringing his total take from the SS AMSOL somewhere just over $2.2 million by now.

I noticed that the Board of Governors are now referred to as "Trustees" ... that's a slip of the typewriter because the only ones called trustees so far were are the University.

The statement of interrelatedness of Ave Maria Foundation is very disappointingly written (PDF p 17). Although this statement says the Foundation gives services "for free", two pages later it shows that the school pays over $30,000 per month to the foundation.

The loan descriptions will make you laugh. They now reference the Michigan education bonds.

On Page 20 there is a full statement of "THE MISSION".... THIS IS HANDY!!!!! Use it to impeach Dollarboy.

There is a list of official committees worth reading, too. The one on the external relations and the one on the mission struck me as the two most important committees. One committee exists to break the kneecaps of people who criticize outside, and the other is to break the kneecaps of the people inside. Nice.

Bernie Dobranski and Thomas Monaghan are listed as officers of a related party. NOTICE, however, that there is no listing of the University despite the fact that by 2006 the Board of the law school had already announced that it was hunting to get in bed with the University.

I'm sure Bernie has a nice spin on how that was overlooked or unnecessary. Doesn't anyone else think that an institution that promises to provide significant cash to a nonprofit if it undergoes an action possibly detrimental to its entiire operation should be listed ?

Read it for yourself. It's continuing proof that the Falvey Report was substantiated.

Fumed by Casimir Pulaski at 8:19 AM. |

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Profanatio rei sacrae

I found this disturbing item today via a comment on National Review's blog "The Corner."

Don't Read This

"SEX and the City" spoiler alert! Mr. Big and Carrie definitely tie the knot - and it's no small-time affair. Cast and crew are shooting today from early morning until 9 p.m. at St. Patrick's Cathedral, where the wedding takes place. Carrie and her gal pals will be wearing jewels borrowed from H. Stern. Sarah Jessica Parker even gets a congrats written into the script: "Mazel Tov! I read it in Page Six," reports a woman who played a well-wisher during filming yesterday.

If the report is true, it is disturbing to say the least. Shooting a portion of a film in a Church is not objectionable. What is objectionable is the type of movie that is shot on holy ground. Surely the Archbishop of New York has discretion as to whom he grants permission for such filming. I would assume also that the Archbishop knows his moral theology (material cooperation in evil and all that).Very likely, the Sex and the City folks are "donating" a decent amount of cash for the renting of the "facilities."

I would hope all Catholics of goodwill would loathe the thought of the Cardinal Archbishop of New York (who also sits on the Board of Ave Maria School of Law) profaning the house of God for "the money." Perhaps, however, we've seen this before? You be the judge.

Fumed by Petronius at 2:03 PM. |