Manhattan Beachs private security forces are hampered by economy, selfishness, and politics (Photo courtesy of davidsonscott15 via Flickr)

Source: davidsonscott15/Flickr

Manhattan Beach Community Group President Ira Zalcman published on the group’s website a screed against Courier-Life’s (Bay News) reporting of their latest meeting, which oversimplified a long, complicated division with the neighborhood’s private security force – Beachside Patrol – and threw fuel onto the supposed rivalry between the MBCG and the newer Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association. In it, Zalcman bashed the paper for misrepresenting or distorting facts, erroneous statements and sensationalism.

Zalcman writes:

Every article about Manhattan Beach in the Bay News (yournabe.com) uses violent references to compare the two differing MB groups. The Officers of the MBCG were not interviewed in last weeks article “Manhattan Beach Security Battle”. In fact MBCG went so far to have a closed door meeting the night before our open meeting to discuss security for fear that the Bay News would distort the facts. And they didn’t disappoint us.

At the open June 15th meeting the Bay News reporter was in attendance. Somehow she stated “the patrol is mishandling its financing”. That was never said. That has never been said. She even goes on to compare the two groups as the Jets and the Sharks. We, by the way, are the Sharks. We loved West Side Story especially the original play and movie but there isn’t going to be a rumble tonight.

Other facts were either plain wrong or distorted. But MBCG doesn’t have a press secretary. MBCG doesn’t have a Minister of Propaganda. MBCG has never called anyone names. But in high literary fashion, Pulitzer like writing, our young cub reporter does get a quote from the press secretary of the other group.

Whoa, that’s a pretty harsh critique. So what’s that all about, eh? Well let me tell you…

The report in question, “Manhattan Beach Security Battle, Rivals Feud Over Fake Police” by Bay News’ Alex Rush, covers the events of the June 15 meeting, which she sums up with the following:

The Manhattan Beach Community Group says it wants to create a second unarmed neighborhood security force to work alongside the 40-year-old Beachside Neighborhood Patrol, claiming that patrol is mishandling its financing — which includes a voluntary $400 per household from neighbors who want to pitch in.

Well, close, but that’s not quite what we witnessed at the June 15 meeting. That night, the MBCG’s board voted to form an exploratory committee to research neighborhood security options. They did this in the presence of Ted Kleynerman, director of the Beachside Patrol. Kleynerman has been turning heads in recent months with his attempts to give monthly reports before the group – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we’ll get to that.

The crux of the problem here, for the MBCG anyway, is that Bay News’ Rush does two things: 1) misrepresents that motion, as explained above, and 2) conflates the battle with Beachside with the battle with the so-called rival Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association.

The disagreements with Beachside are entirely different than the disagreements with the MBNA. Whereas the MBNA split off from the MBCG in 2007 due to an election dispute, Beachside was later taken independent by then-director Albert Hasson, who sought funding from both groups. Beachside had previously been a committee within the MBCG, and the civic financed their insurance to the tune of thousands of dollars a year. To hear the MBCG tell the story, Hasson took the paperwork and split without approval from the MBCG board. Without knowing where their money was going, the MBCG was uncomfortable funding the venture, and requests to access the paperwork were denied. The MBCG passed a motion requesting information from Hasson, and issued a letter to him stating that Beachside would be barred from presenting at meetings until the questions were answered to their satisfaction. The MBCG has never publicly stated that they suspected financial mismanagement.

Enter Ted Kleynerman, a Manhattan Beach resident who walked into this mess almost entirely unaware of the backstory. Hasson handed off the patrol to Kleynerman, who appears to be making a good-faith effort to improve the patrol and seek support from both groups. Kleynerman said he has answered the requested questions – but MBCG does not find his answers satisfactory. He has made several quiet attempts to have Beachside present monthly reports before the group, to no avail.

Over the last few months, however, Kleynerman has turned up the heat. Beachside leadership has been attempting various parliamentary maneuvers to turn over the existing motion, often causing the end of MBCG meetings to fall into disarray as Kleynerman, reps from MBCG, and others quibble over parliamentary process. Really, in terms of “sensational reporting,” it takes a wizard to make this stuff sound exciting to the general public, so kudos to Bay News’ Rush.

But, indeed, the parliamentary sneak attacks appear to have succeeded in at least annoying the MBCG leadership, to the point of the June 15 vote to research supplementary – or alternative – or competing – or whatever – security solutions. It was a strange move by any standard, but it’s more like saying, “I want to think about possibly making additional security provisions, perhaps… maybe,” as opposed to, “We’re going to form another patrol.” But, to be fair to the Bay News, the intent does seem to be to send a message to Beachside – that message being, “Back off, or we’ll form our own security patrol.” Such an action could be devastating to Beachside, which is already strapped for cash and nearly shuttered last year. Regardless, the MBCG’s actual motion was just to research options, not to do anything concrete – a point Zalcman made clear after the motion passed.

So that, in a nutshell, is the story of what’s been going on with the MBCG in regards to Beachside Patrol. It’s not an easy story to tell, nor a particularly exciting one. And, for clarity’s sake, let me point out that this entire report is based on what I’ve witnessed over the past two years of covering Manhattan Beach nonstop and attending almost every meeting. It’s the view of a guy with no vested interest who stands quietly in the front, recording everything – and sharing coffee and conversation with the neighbors involved. It’s also the observations of someone who doesn’t like seeing neighbors fight neighbors just so the publication can make a more entertaining story.

Which brings me to the part that alarms me, as a resident and reporter, the most: the Bay News’ subheader, “Rival Civics Feud Over Fake Police.” The rivals weren’t feuding over this issue. At least they weren’t until Rush solicited a quote from MBNA spokesperson Edmond Dweck, who called MBCG’s action “childish and selfish.” That kind of irresponsible reporting – calling up a party involved in a separate dispute, and who is unlikely to give an unbiased opinion, to comment on a motion in which they have no involvement - is how a news report can quickly exacerbate community division.

Oh, and since we’re on the topic of correcting the record when it comes to the Bay News and Alex Rush’s reporting: It’s Edmond Dweck, not Edmund. And it’s Theresa Scavo, not Teresa.

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  • BrooklynBus

    Great reporting Ned.  Good to here everything from an objective source.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    New York Post Lite.

    • Anonymous

      oooooh. low blow lisanne. 

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

        I’ve hated the Bay News for the past 39 years. It was a perfect acquisition for Murdoch. I mean it when I call it New York Post Lite. They’ve taken on a Post-like style in recent years. Before Murdoch they were sneakier in their attacks.

        Sheepshead Bites is a low budget entity, but has quality writing of a substantive nature. The Bay News fails to provide enough detail to flesh out their assertions. If Ned manages to get a classified section that has quantity and readership than the Bay News’ days are numbered.

        I weep not. Sometimes change is the result of a failure to do things correctly.( I do know that Ned appreciates competition, it keeps him on his toes)

        • BrooklynBus

          I give it a year or two at the most. I say this by looking at the number of pages which have steadily been dwindling over the past five years.  Still, I would not like to see them go. They print nearly every letter I’ve sent them. I think I’ve had about 15 this year alone.

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

            The print edition might disappear. They’ll have to make the web edition worth keeping up. Or maybe they will drop the other papers and start selling or giving away the Brooklyn Paper throughout the borough.

          • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Erica-Sherman-Photographer/156144554406226?ref=mf ES

            I knew your name looked familiar! When I used to work there, I typed and edited some (less than five percent, probably) of your letters.

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

            They do print people’s letters, and don’t engage in extreme editing of their content. (More so years ago) Once the New York Times printed a letter of mine. But I had to kiss Arthur Ochs Sulzberger’s ring to get that accomplished.

    • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B ex Eminem

      … and their sports section isn’t as good! My mom makes me search for a Bay News throughout the neighborhood every Thursday or Friday. She won’t break down and pay the 50c in the store, so maybe she agrees with you (even though she makes me look like a flaming leftist). They haven’t been putting it in the boxes the last few weeks, what gives with that.

         Like it or not, it’s the only way I know what’s going on, at least entertainment-wise. You know I love this web-site, but it’s not nearly as comprehensive as the Bay News. On the other hand, I can’t vent and be argumentative and make an ass of myself on the Bay News.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

        Their entertainment section was too eclectic, even for me. ( I haven’t fully read the Bay News in awhile, but that was my impression.) The solution for Ned in that regard is to keep getting the word to people in the 3D world. When people have entertainment events they contact the Bay News. They could be contacting Ned as well.

        As for getting the paper for free, it’s so wasteful to spend money on something that is being offered in the same form without charge. It does make me wonder why they are doing both. Perhaps it’s because they need sales for more reliable circulation numbers.

        My father was so liberal that he rarely had an unkind word to say about any politician. But he didn’t live to see the current crop of worthies.

        • http://www.nedberke.com Ned Berke

          They don’t make a cent off newsstand sales. Papers like the Bay News give it to the vendors for free. It’s simply additional distribution for them with no box to maintain. The 50-cent charge keeps the vendors happy, even if they end up throwing out the whole stack.

          As for the entertainment section, I rarely see anything local in those pages. the 24/7 insert is boroughwide. We’ll have our own solution to events soon. Stay tuned.

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

            The various Courier-Life publications share a lot of content. This was somewhat true even when it was just 4 neighborhood papers. Much like the Gannett daily papers in southern Westchester. Gannett had papers in Yonkers, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and as well as other towns in Westchester. The idea was to get local ad revenue, just like the various Courier-Life titles. All the Gannett Westchester papers were combined in the 90′s. I doubt that would happen here.

            More content would require redesigning the page layout but that’s a positive. In this circumstance change means growth.

      • nolastname

        Hey, the Bay News has good coupons. Nathans, Dunkin, Carvel…and many more.

        • http://www.brucebrodinsky.com Bruce B ex Eminem

          good point. i’ve used the nathans coupons a little too often…. but, search the internet, nolastname, i’ve always been able to find a nathans hot dog coupon somewhere.
             As far as Bay News’ entertainment section not being local, true, but it’s still the most succinct way I know of to see what’s happening around Brooklyn

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

          That explains why the boxes are empty.

  • Manhattan Beach Bum

    This is all getting so tiring. The MBCG is continuisly in conflict with EVERYBODY. The mayor, the MBNA, Beachisde, Nelson, the Bay News, the parks department, DOT, and even their own neighbors. Instead of passing a motion to form a committe exploring another security group, perhaps they should have formed a comittee to collaborate with Beachside. Maybe they should try learning how to make friends. They have already mastered the art of making enemies.  

    • BrooklynBus

      When you lie to people and make promises you don’t keep, you tend to make enemies.  That’s all I’ll say.

    • Can’t we all just get along?

      Note that the MBCG has NEVER paid a dime to insure Beachside, don’t know where the “tune of thousands of dollars a year” went, but it wasn’t to a Beachside insurance policy.

      They complain so much about the forming of a second neighborhood association then they go ahead and propose forming a competing neighborhood patrol – hypocrisy at its best.
      Beachside was originally formed as an independent organization in 1970. Consider that its fiduciary responsibility is to its members and not to any politically motivated organizations. While the MBCG has supported private security in the community there has always been a cozy relationship with Beachside. Zalcman is the first to shun Beachside from the MBCG. It is unfortunate and detrimental to the community to allow his personal vendettas to be prioritized over the community’s safety. If only the directors would stand up for what’s right and not be intimidated. Security should trump all.

  • JR

    rich people need to just get along and swim in their pools of money buying each other expensive gifts like Bentley’s and Rolls Royces

  • nolastname

    I have seen this Alexis in action. Her reporting techniques are slightly diabolical. 
    I am aware of an interview she had in which the article that submerged had little to do with what the person wanted to get across.
    Making someone look stupid so the reporter looks better is not a good thing.
    I’m not happy with the shenanigans in Manhattan Beach, but who cares what I an outsider thinks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Erica-Sherman-Photographer/156144554406226?ref=mf ES

    Totally off topic: Ned, remember I was trying to enlighten you the other day on how awesome a show “Hill Street Blues” (greatest show of all time) was? FYI, the photo you used for this post looks exactly like the first scene in the opening credits of the show; check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_Street_Blues

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

      We are NOT supposed to like that show. It takes place in Pittsburgh.

      That the show was so brilliant makes giving it a Pittsburgh locale an act so heinous that it is almost unforgivable. The producers were so embarrassed that never stressed the Pittsburgh inspiration for the program.Pittsburgh? I once went to Pittsburgh and it was closed. 

      Wait, that was Philadelphia. Never mind.

      Now to be true neighborhood boosters we must espouse that Brooklyn South was the greatest police drama ever. Do try saying that with a straight face.

      • http://www.nedberke.com Ned Berke

        Three words for you: 21 Jump Street.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

          I could the Pittsburgh setting of that show,and pretend it took place in Flatbush.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

          I should add that 21 Jump Street was less corny than its predecessor, Mod Squad.

  • Ron B

    Why not have a special meeting between Beachside leadership, MBCG leadership & MBNA leadership at KCCC to have a constructive open dialogue and possibly explain any misunderstandings. I for one will be there at any time and any place.

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