Baltimore developer and lawyer David Cordish was unhappy about the article I wrote about him in the April 6 edition of the Niagara Falls Reporter and is threatening to sue.
In fact, the Reporter got a letter from the law offices of Cordish and Cordish, signed by associate attorney Charles Jacobs.
It reads, in part:
"Dear Mr. Parlato,
"The article is a total fabrication, it is defamatory 'per se' and it is damaging to the Company's and Mr. Cordish's professional, business and personal reputation. As you know, the Reporter's articles are picked up and carried by various Internet search engines which give them wide circulation and they are damaging, not just to our client's reputation in the Niagara Falls region, but nationally where they conduct our business."
Evidently, Mr. Jacobs of Cordish and Cordish claims the article was entirely false.
A "total fabrication," he claimed.
The next part of the letter, I assume, is intended to scare me through a menacing use of ALL CAPITAL letters, an unintentionally funny attempt to drive home a threatening message. Writing in ALL CAPITAL letters does not usually add genuine emphasis and is actually harder to read. It is associated more with idiocy, juvenility and, sometimes, temporary insanity, as in the case of a person who is so angry that he cannot control his mad message and writes in ALL CAPITALS like he was screaming. Actually, ALL CAPITAL letter messages are not frightening at all, since they show the letter writer is unschooled, in my view.
"THE PURPOSE OF THIS LETTER IS TO DEMAND RETRACTION OF THE AFOREMENTIONED ARTICLE, BOTH IN PRINT AND ELECTRONICALLY," Jacobs wrote. "THIS LETTER IS TO DEMAND IMMEDIATE RETRACTION OF ALL ELECTRONIC DISSEMINATION AND PRINT PUBLICATIONS OF THE OFFENDING ARTICLE AND FURTHER TO DEMAND THAT YOU PUBLISH A RETRACTION WITH THE SAME PROMINENCE YOU SAW FIT TO GIVE THE DEFAMATORY ARTICLE AND PROVIDE ME WITH WRITTEN EVIDENCE OF THE RETRACTION AND PUBLICATION OF THE RETRACTION WITHIN THE NEXT TEN DAYS OR WE WILL PROMPTLY TAKE ALL APPROPRIATE LEGAL ACTION."
Cordish and Cordish's Mr. Jacobs wants me to retract, OR ELSE.
One might have thought Mr. Jacobs would have stated what he thought was untrue, but he did not, making a general "fabrication" label fit all and capitalizing it all to emphasize his threat.
I certainly cannot retract that Cordish is a do-nothing developer in Niagara Falls, because the record is clear that he is a do-nothing developer. Nor can I retract that he has a lease on the Rainbow Centre Mall and pays his landlord -- the people of Niagara Falls -- far less than market value for keeping it vacant for the past 10 years, which is what he has done.
Or that he promised to operate the Rainbow Mall as a "first-class mall" and that the record shows clearly he did not.
Or that he shamelessly leaves the mall vacant instead of developing it, or alternatively giving it back to the people or to someone who would develop it so it won't be a grotesque and mammoth black eye in the heart of downtown, which it is.
And I can't go back on reporting that Cordish's repeated claims that he would develop the mall into an entertainment complex have proven completely bogus.
Since 2001 Cordish has said he planned to convert the vacant mall into a family entertainment complex with "multi-screen theater, video parlors and ticketed attractions." Later it was to be a "dinosaur edu-tainment attraction," featuring "authentic artifacts" and Jurassic Park-type animation, with dance clubs and "live performance venues." Next, a Seneca-run high-stakes bingo parlor, and later, a "giant nightclub." More recently, he spoke of a Nascar-themed attraction.
For 10 years, the block-long concrete eyesore has remained vacant in the heart of downtown, serving as a hideous obstruction for tourists who have to walk around it to get to the falls. Through three mayoral administrations, the ugly, vacant mall helped Cordish earn a well-deserved citywide reputation as a premier do-nothing developer. And since he pays so little rent -- almost nothing, really -- he can afford to keep the place vacant while he waits for someone to come along and buy his lease out for big bucks.
If there's a real development plan, it's known only to him.
And I will not retract the comment that quite possibly all the promises Cordish ever made to the city were total fabrications, because there's not a shred of evidence to the contrary.
The city needs to explore ways to get out of the lease with this do-nothing developer whose only interest in Niagara Falls seems to be solely to cash in on his virtually free investment.
I think we've seen enough to reasonably come to that conclusion.
And I hope that Mr. Jacobs does not expect me to retract that Cordish acquired from the city a 275-by-150-foot lot across from the mall that was a revenue-producing municipal parking lot based on his promise that he was going to develop it into a world-class attraction.
He even signed a contract with the city promising to build at least a 10,000-square-foot building but, true to his history, he did not.
Now, apparently, it is going to revert to a paid parking lot, only this time Cordish and his partners get the profits, not the city.
And I would also like to add that, instead of retracting everything I wrote about Cordish, I wish Cordish would retract his entire presence in Niagara Falls.
And since we are talking of total fabrications, our readers should find it amusing to learn that Cordish apparently wants people to think, especially those who might consider conducting business with him nationally, that he is actually a successful developer in Niagara Falls.
Now that's a total fabrication, based on the evidence.
His Web site (Cordish.com), which is carried on various search engines and given wide circulation, includes a quote from "The Honorable Michael O'Laughlin, Mayor of Niagara Falls, New York." O'Laughlin is deceased and was mayor some 25 years ago.
It is Cordish's sole reference to his work in Niagara Falls.
He quotes O'Laughlin as if he were the current mayor: "Niagara Falls' retail and entertainment had been on a precipitous down turn for approximately 20 years. The city canvassed several dozen developers across the country, none would take the risk until we approached David Cordish. The result was public/private partnership that worked to perfection. Rainbow Centre won the Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence and deservedly so. The Cordish Company honored every commitment they made to us, written or otherwise, and their development spawned a number of new projects around Rainbow Centre."
To post on your Web site an aging quote and have people in other cities who are unfamiliar with your vacant, deteriorating mall think that you have an award-winning project and helped the community spawn new projects in Niagara Falls seems like a true fabrication.
In the end, I suppose I will be sued and then later in discovery, depositions, and possibly on the witness stand, I will have to prove that I am not totally fabricating that David Cordish got properties under market value here because he promised he would not be a do-nothing developer. That he did not keep his promises and with the true heart of a fascist even threatens to sue when somebody merely exercises their First Amendment right to say he doesn't keep his promises.
A legal fight will then be waged over whether it is true or a fabrication that Cordish has taken advantage of this city. A fight to find out if David Cordish has for years been giving the city of Niagara Falls utter and total fabrications.
Cordish and his attorney, Charles Jacobs, have not returned multiple calls and e-mails requesting an interview.
I will therefore have to fashion my own retraction. I hope Cordish and Cordish and Mr. Jacobs find it acceptable both in substance and in style:
"DAVID CORDISH, THE WEALTHY AND SUCCESSFUL DEVELOPER, OPERATES THE RAINBOW CENTRE AS A FIRST-CLASS MALL JUST LIKE HE PROMISED.
"MR. CORDISH ALSO GOT A VACANT LOT FROM THE CITY AND DEVELOPED IT INTO A WORLD-CLASS ATTRACTION THAT PEOPLE FROM AROUND THE WORLD MARVEL AT, JUST AS HE PROMISED.
"MR. CORDISH IS REGARDED AS THE PREMIER DEVELOPER IN NIAGARA FALLS.
"OTHER THAN THE FALLS ITSELF, DAVID CORDISH IS THE GREATEST WONDER WE HAVE HERE IN NIAGARA FALLS."
How's that for a retraction that is quite frankly a total fabrication?
Your move, Mr. developer.