Presidente Carlos Figueroa Held Debate Forum at Ave Maria | James Pat Guerréro


“If you want to have a debate, you can do that on your own time,” Presidente moderator Carlos Figueroa said as he held a Debate Forum at Ave Maria, Collier county, Florida, on Project Peet (Jackson Laboratory project). The procedural informational setting was a forum paneled by three persons and a question and answer period. But the forum predominately responded to a debate. Carlos Figueroa corrected the opponents to “hold their thoughts” throughout the forum, and the panelists had to “[refute their] characterization of the project’s opponents.”

The panelists were in order of presentation, Ave Maria University Theology professor Michael Waldstein; Jackson Labs Vice President for Advancement and External Relations Mike Hyde; and Barron Collier Cos. President of Real Estate and Minerals Blake Gable. There were 100 people in attendance to the first forum (debate) on Project Peet at the retail establishment, The Bean at Ave Maria, Ave Maria, Florida.

What happened at this forum-debate? Obviously, the hired moderator Carlos Figueroa made some miscalculations on the opponents and their views. He reckoned opponents who have very little patience and less money and property, would remain silent. More foolishly, he intended there would occur a one-way informational forum that didn’t occur. But hasn’t this been what Project Peet has done all along. Consequentially, it’s time to have a debate, perhaps, many debates to get to the real issues for opponents and supporters, in and out of Ave Maria. … Now who can handle a debate in this fired-up cause? Surely, professors could. Just in time for training, students could. Forget Thomas Monaghan, Nicholas J. Healy, Ave Maria University and Ave Maria Foundation Board of Regents, and Ave Maria special district; they’re too busy with politics as usual. The Ave Maria residents definitely want to have a debate; they’re in. The Ave Maria businesses need market share and must debate because there is no place to even hold a debate and Ave Maria University is private property.

What really are the issues? There are two, and they’re real; embryonic stem cell research and economic funding. These two issues affect non-Catholics and Catholics in Collier county.This writer offers just one of many examples on the issue of embryonic stem cell research. Quite clearly, at the Republican Club meeting when Jackson Labs Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Chuck Hewett gave a presentation on Project Peet, this writer asked him if Jackson Labs had ever done embryonic stem cell research. Chuck Hewett replied that there were two doctors who did embryonic stem cell research. One has to predict the future on how to decide at this point. The question remains whether a non-profit genetics research institute should consume taxpayer funding now and in the future after which it has admitted to researching embryonic stem cells. For anyone, not just Catholics, this is an important issue. Success depends on support from residents and businesses, those who pay taxes. For Jackson Labs, this isn’t as important because federal law supports embryonic stem cell research. The United States federal law is a conundrum to deal with: on the one hand it funds almost everything, and on the other it funds immoral goals. It’s time to depend on the principle of subsidiarity on which the residents and businesses depend on themselves in their locality.

Professor Waldstein bowed out on the economic funding issue which could have been the deciding issue. If opponents don’t like what the non-profit genetics research institute does, it certainly will not fund it. Pockets are empty (period), but maybe  not as empty as professor Waldstein’s pocket. The point is that economic funding of Project Peet is a moral issue as well. Here’s an example. On Labor Day Jackson Labs was anxiously awaiting the passage of stimulus funding ($700 million) on which the first funding of Project Peet depended. (The Obama Democrat flux is spending mighty heavily at the moment.) It passed, but it was rather late in passing. So late, in fact, that Gov. Charlie Crist has no time left to approve it. Jackson Labs explained away this failure on their confidence that they would receive the funding. Meanwhile, there are groups who already are setting their sights on that conjectured funding of $130 million. But really, the failure of the federal funding coming through in time is not the economic immorality. The immorality is the taking of property (government funding by taxation) owned by the residents and business of Collier county. This writer means “legalized” misappropriation of property rightly belonging to those who pay taxes for the use by push-down non-profit genetics research organizations. Another example. Barron Collier Cos. Blake Gable said it well,“We’re not in the business of pursuing a project that is going to be an abject failure for a company that bears our family name.” What this means from the property owner perspective is that the property owner has the right to first own the property and then give the property based on his just means of using the property to his advantage for supporting himself and his family. This writer believes Blake Gable in his statement was referring to his own property. Well, opponents refer to their property, too, albeit how little it is. The beauty of a vibrant economy on dividing the labor is that the resources of all the parts (property owners) can come together and produce something greater for the good of Collier county.

All those interested concerns should debate about Project Peet. Project Peet needs leaders who can analyze the issues in an encouraging environment.

For more reading: Jackson Lab forum at Ave Maria more of a debate » Naples Daily News.

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