Pizza Power Run Amok

by Michelle Cottle | September 2, 2009

There is much to be disturbed by in this Washington Monthly piece about the rise and fall of Ave Maria Law School, the brainchild of Domino's pizza billionaire and super-Catholic Tom Monaghan.

But for some reason, the part that really creeps me out is the bit about how, when constructing his planned community of Ave Maria in Southwest Florida, Monaghan and his business partner convinced state legislators to tinker with the law so that the two men could permanently control the local government:

In Florida, developers can petition to act as the local government for a number of years while a development is under construction. Monaghan and Barron Collier began pushing the Florida state legislature to pass a law that would allow them to control the local government in perpetuity--and, according to an investigation by the Naples Daily News, they eventually succeeded. While their powers were technically limited when it came to regulating behavior, they clearly intended to keep a tight grip on community life. The original letter of intent between Barron Collier and Monaghan said the town would "allow no public activities which are offensive to traditional Christian values or which might represent a scandal to Catholic and Christian sensibilities. Thus, no topless bars, abortion clinics, 'adult' bookstores or the like shall be permitted."

BTW: Good luck to anyone looking to buy a condom in Ave Maria.

Having read much about Monaghan over the years, the fact that he would entertain such heavy-handed paternalistic fantasies doesn't surprise me. (For all his piety, the man seems to have trouble remembering that he is not an actual member of the Holy Trinity.) The fact that any self-respecting state legislature would pass a law allowing him to do so does.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/pizza-power-run-amok