Cutler apologizes for expletives
Brown aide clashes with businessman
By Patrick Lakamp , NEWS STAFF REPORTER
Published:August 07 2010, 12:00 AM, Updated: August 07, 2010, 6:38 AM
“I know all about you, you [expletive].”
Local businessman Mark Goldman said Peter K. Cutler, in a loud, threatening voice, also called him other names that cannot be published in The Buffalo News.
Cutler, Mayor Byron W. Brown’s communications director, wrote a letter of apology Friday to Goldman.
“There can be no excuse for the manner, tone and content of what I expressed at that moment, and I sincerely regret what I said to you,” Cutler wrote. “I hope you accept my sincerest and most heartfelt apology.”
The confrontation late Wednesday in the Common Council Chambers followed lawmakers’ failure to approve a waterfront land agreement for HSBC Bank that the Brown administration strongly supported. That same day, The Buffalo News published Goldman’s op-ed article, “A Buffalo ‘obstructionist’ proclaims his manifesto.”
In the piece, Goldman described himself as “one of the few obstructionists Mayor Byron Brown referred to as responsible for the decision by Bass Pro not to come to Buffalo.”
“As an obstructionist, I believe that when a small group of tightly connected political insiders hijacks the city planning process, it must be stopped,” Goldman wrote.
After Wednesday’s encounter, Goldman protested to the mayor
about Cutler’s behavior.
“Understandably upset with the outcome of the vote, Mr. Cutler, in the Council Chambers, in front of dozens of people, approached me in a finger-pointing, in-your-face threatening way and proceeded to swear at me in the most abusive manner,” Goldman said in his letter to the mayor. “Worse still, from my point of view, was that he did so in front of my [32-yearold] daughter.”
In describing the encounter with Cutler, Goldman wrote that “with a loud threatening voice he called me a ‘[expletive],’ saying that ‘I know all about you. You don’t care about jobs in Buffalo, you piece of [expletive]. [Expletive].’ ”
Stephen C. Halpern, a University at Buffalo political science professor, who witnessed the encounter, said Cutler’s behavior frightened him. Halpern, with Goldman, is a plaintiff in a lawsuit brought to challenge the since-killed proposal to transfer land to Bass Pro.
“This is a public official speaking to a private citizen who expressed disagreement with a governmental official about policy and was subject to verbal abuse in a public setting.
“It was threatening and intimidating behavior,” Halpern said. “There’s no other way to describe it. If I were Mark, I would be worried.”
Goldman now wonders how he will be treated at City Hall.
“As a local business owner, I have official business with City Hall on a regular basis,” he told The News. “Barely a month goes by when I do not have to seek City Hall’s permission for something:a permit, a license, a certificate of occupancy. How will my need for the city’s help, following Cutler’s outburst, undermine and compromise my First Amendment rights?
“Will City Hall, because someone in the mayor’s office didn’t like my constitutionally protected freedom of expression, undermine my efforts to open my new restaurant on Amherst Street? Will Cutler tell an inspector to deny me a license to operate? Will he call the new police commissioner and have him harass me in my place of business or in my home,” Goldman asked.
“It is for this reason, not the gross personal insult, that I would like, and believe I am en-titled to, an apology from both Mayor Brown and Mr. Cutler,” Goldman said.
As of Friday afternoon, Goldman had not received Cutler’s letter of apology.
Cutler said the mayor attempted to reach Goldman on Friday but would not disclose what the mayor intended to tell him.
Cutler acknowledged to The News that he used foul language in his encounter with Goldman but denied using the most offensive obscenities that Goldman accused him of using.
“His characterization of what I said is not completely accurate,” Cutler told The News. “It was an emotional moment for a lot of people for different reasons,” Cutler said. “If what I said to Mr. Goldman caused him any kind of stress, I regret that and I apologize.”
As for Goldman’s fears about retaliation, he needn’t worry, Cutler said.
“That’s not how we act,” Cutler said.
PHOTO) Peter K. Cutler, left, says he has “no excuse” for remarks to Mark Goldman