wasted away again in ave maria ville

From the looks of it, Ypsilanti’s favorite son, and the inventor of the world’s most shittiest pizza, Tom Monaghan, may have fucked himself worse than fellow fundamentalist Mel Gibson did earlier this week when he proclaimed loudly to police that all the world’s problems were the fault of those Christ-killing Jews. Monaghan, who already had the left against him for his rabid anti-choice activism and his funding of far right social causes, is now starting to piss off his base. Apparently, conservative Catholics, especially those who have contributed monetarily to Monaghan’s endeavors in Michigan, don’t much like it when, on an ego-driven whim, he changes course, leaving them high and dry… Anyway, there’s a a good story on the Ave Maria fiasco in the New York Times… Here are a few clips:

…In the past eight years, his Ave Maria Foundation, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., has donated $140 million to promote conservative Catholic education, media and other organizations, including Detroit-area parochial grade schools, a law school and small regional colleges in Michigan and Nicaragua, along with radio stations and a fellowship group for Catholic business leaders.

His boldest charitable venture by far, however, is Ave Maria University, a four-year liberal arts campus under construction 30 miles northeast of Naples, Fla., to which Mr. Monaghan has donated or pledged $285 million so far. Along with the university, which enrolled its first students three years ago on a temporary campus, he and a local developer are building an adjoining new town called Ave Maria…

As he tries to build a new university and town in his own image, Mr. Monaghan has been experiencing some of those difficulties firsthand. Faculty members, students and parents tied to his Detroit-area schools have complained that he runs his charitable foundation like a sole proprietorship, starting and abandoning projects as whim strikes him. And they characterize his new Florida university as a vanity venture that could well prove to be a colossal waste of cash.

“It all belongs to Tom Monaghan; that’s the problem,” said Therese M. Bower of Cincinnati, whose son attended Ave Maria College, one of the schools Mr. Monaghan founded in Michigan. His foundation moved to close the school’s Ypsilanti campus to focus on building his university in Florida…

“We’ve tried to create an environment traditional Catholics can be comfortable with,” Mr. Healy said, adding that the devotion to the faith was put into action in many ways: from single-sex dorms and daily rosary walks to a scholarship that the school, in keeping with what it describes as its strong pro-life ethic, recently began offering in the name of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman whose husband won a bitter court fight in 2004 to authorize doctors to stop life support….

“Ironically, the very legacy that was being built up with Monaghan’s help is now being torn down at his will,” Professor Peters wrote. “It is a tragic and scandalous waste of the human and financial resources given by God”…

Professor Messaros called the millions that Mr. Monaghan has spent “mind-numbing.” His fortune could have been spent helping the poor or assisting established universities or on any number of better causes, instead of on building what he called “a ‘Citizen Kane’ monument to waste,” Professor Messaros added.

What a class act – he’s even started a Terri Schiavo scholarship. (Of course, I’m sure he’s not just exploiting her memory to fill his coffers… I wonder if the scholarship is just open to the brain dead. Can someoen remind me to send a letter?)

I don’t know the whole story, but it seems to me that when local authorities here in Michigan wouldn’t roll over and give in to Monaghan’s demands, he ran to the swampland of Florida and into the arms of Governor Jeb Bush, who shared his vision for a fundamentalist bastion. He also took the opportunity to cut his funding of a local Catholic newspaper and a new convent Michigan. And, in doing so, Monaghan pissed off a lot of people who had invested time and money in the original Ave Maria, here in Michigan.

So, now they’re finding it difficult to raise the additional cash needed to bring Monaghan’s vision into reality, and, given the cooling housing market, they aren’t so sure how the lots in his manufactured town, which they say will include a retail district, an 18-hole golf course, and roving bands of religious police, chopping off the heads of whistlers and stoning women to death who show too much skin, will sell. (OK, I made that last part up.) Here in Ypsi, we had, of course, heard the anti-Monaghan scuttlebutt from students and faculty who felt betrayed, but it’s good to know that the story is growing and that it’s impacting his fundraising nationally.

In somewhat related news, religious leaders in Ohio affiliated with the Patriot Pastors program (which, by the way, should be illegal) are demanding that Ohio candidates for elected office “prove” they aren’t gay.

I’m not exactly sure how it would play out in court, but I’ve got my ideas. And, more importantly, I think I’ve finally got my idea for a script to develop with Kami (the porn star who used to read this site)!

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  1. mark
    Posted August 1, 2006 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    You might not be able to make it out in the drawing, but there’s a six-story tall corpse nailed to some beams in the center of town.

  2. murph
    Posted August 1, 2006 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Ave Maria: good riddance from Ypsi!

    Somewhere, I saw a piece on their new town down there where they were talking about how, “We will control the drugstores, so there will be no contraceptives! And we will control the cable connection and the video stores, so there will be no pornography! Your children will be completely safe from corruption!”

    Gaaah – creepy.

  3. mark
    Posted August 2, 2006 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Hmmmm…. I wonder if Google would want the Ave Maria “campus”….

    Does anyone know if the buildings owned by Ave Maria have gone up for sale yet?

  4. degutails
    Posted August 2, 2006 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    they’re for sale – our school was looking at them for a while. they’re nice, but kinda small, and their proximity to the river means that maybe it wouldn’t be such a good idea to encourage adding on to them. i’m still voting for the site next to the corner brewery.


  5. ol' e cross
    Posted August 2, 2006 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    They’ve been for sale since late winter. Tom Mon sold the whole block to a realtor.

    You can look them up on aaabor.com by selecting “campus area/downtown” on their advanced search page.

  6. Sam
    Posted August 2, 2006 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    On top of all the problems the pizza man has created for himself, he no longer even lay claim to the worst pizza title anymore. CiCi’s pizza definitely takes that crown now.

    As for controlling the drugstore, they quickly backtracked on that one after getting a lot of bad press.

  7. Sam
    Posted August 2, 2006 at 9:31 am | Permalink


    There is a podcast called the PacificCoastHellway that had a brillian take-off on pizza town back in March. You can find it at Saint Domino de Pepperoni… The ave maria bit comes about 9 minutes in if you want to skip ahead.

    Warning this show is definitely not work-safe or kid-safe and skip it if you have sensitive ears. You’ve been warned

  8. Tony Buttons Esq.
    Posted August 2, 2006 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    We should have an official going away party for Tom Monaghan.

    (Does anyone know if he still has a residence in Michigan?)

  9. Kathleen
    Posted August 2, 2006 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    That man is a sorry excuse for a Christian and I firmly believe than St. Peter will meet him at the Pearly Gates, give him a dressing down on how to be a real Christian and then send him down below.

    I know he no longers owns Domino’s, but I still refuse to buy or eat it.

    He has wasted so much money on his megalomaniacal projects (remember the cathedral in some tiny village in Honduras (or was it Guatemala). They didn’t even have running water and he was building a big mother cathedral.

  10. Shanster
    Posted August 2, 2006 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I think it’s funny that the pope’s-hat-shaped cathedral is bigger than the crucifix.

  11. Ted Glass
    Posted August 2, 2006 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I very much like the idea of a “Proove Your Not Gay” series of adult films, perhaps filmed in the town of Ave Maria.

    Speaking of Ave Maria, if I had money I’d buy summer homes for all of my gay friends there. I think it would be great if we could turn it gayer than Fire Island.

  12. Ted Glass
    Posted August 2, 2006 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Has anyone ever done a good documentary on Monaghan? It seems like someone would have by now.

  13. Dave
    Posted August 2, 2006 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Spoken like a true bunch of Jews. Why don’t you leave TM alone and go start some wars?

  14. leighton
    Posted August 2, 2006 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Who let George Lucas design that “Catheteredral”?

    And does Tom know Princess Amedala is a Jew? Because she ain’t showing up for mass at that house.

    -MC 900 FT Jesus

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