Southern Brooklyn

Civic Group Rallies Behind Embattled President


by Joe Maniscalco

After taking flak for failing to attend a traffic safety meeting set up with representatives from Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s office over the summer, embattled Manhattan Beach Community Group President Ira Zalcman received a welcomed show of support from some of his neighbors on Wednesday night at P.S. 195.

MBCG First Vice-President Bunny Fleischer dismissed the criticism hurled at Zalcman by rival Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association czar Alan Ditchek, saying that the two-term head of her group has “displayed continued integrity and depth of purpose as our leader.”

“You are not the one who is responsible for the formation of a rival group,” Fleischer read from a prepared statement. “You are not the one who is responsible for non-attendance at a recent meeting you were never told was taking place.”

Taking the podium himself, Zalcman blasted the MBNA for allegedly trying to undermine his group at every turn.

“I am not paranoid, but this group has been under attack for two years,” he said.

Zalcman said he has reserved comment on the matter until now because he prefers to concentrate on constructive ways to improve life in Manhattan Beach, and didn’t want to exacerbate the ongoing feud with Ditchek and his breakaway group.

“Part of being a leader is you’re not supposed to make things worse, you’re supposed to make things better,” Zalcman said.

The MBCG chief even offered to give up his leadership post in an effort to help ease tensions with the MBNA.

“They don’t want me to be president,” he said. “If that’s what it takes for there to be peace – I’m done. I don’t like politics.”

All efforts to reconcile with the contrarian MBNA have gone nowhere, according to Zalcman.

“I’ve made overtures, I’ve thrown out the olive branch, and what I get is nothing in return,” he said. “We have a problem because they started a fight and they don’t know how to finish it.”

Ditchek and his fellow band of local dissidents broke away from the almost 70-year-old MBCG back in 2008 right after their campaign to win new zoning reforms sympathetic to non-compliant home expansions fizzled out.

The issue still divides the two groups today, and the resulting feud now appears to be costing Manhattan Beach the support of city officials who are reluctant to wade into the community’s inner turmoil.

Zalcman, however, says that’s just a cop out.

“City agencies are using the split as an excuse to be inept and inert,” he said.

The MBCG president singled out outgoing Parks Commissioner Julius Spiegel specifically, calling his decision to leave concrete planters and potential road hazards along Oriental Boulevard “disgusting.” But most of Zalcman’s buckshot was reserved for Ditchek and his group.

“They are responsible for us getting nothing done,” he said.

Still, Zalcman insists that he is fed up with “all the crap,” and that the door is still open for any members of the MBNA who might want to return to fold and present a united front to the city.

“They are welcome to come back today,” he said.

Looking around, however, no one seems to be holding their breath.

Comment policy


  1. I don’t know anything about those groups and frankly don’t care, but what a lot of self serving bull shit that video was. Give me back the last 10 minutes of my life.

  2. Personally, I believe that there is a curse on Manhattan Beach which is the legacy of Austin Corbin. Obstinacy, power games, and greed continue to rule here.

  3. sounds like this guy does not want to be president. how did he become president?
    maybe this guy should go if he doesn’t want it. why would he need a public letter of support? sounds to me like he group is tryng to convince him to stay. I’m glad we do not have these issues over here in our community

  4. Would be interesting to see what would happen if this guy really did resign. The neighborhood would probably be better off if these polarizing figures with big ego’s and personal agendas were out of the picture.

  5. This is the guy who thought that someone being stabbed at the Manhattan Beach barbecues was one way to end barbecuing in Manhattan Beach. That should tell you something about him.

  6. Yea, I forgot about the barbacues! I’m sure he probably goes to a private beach or has a pool. Where are we supposed to barbacue?
    I bet he was responsible for not letting us park on the streets either.
    What’s next banning cars?

  7. Making things up dosen’t help. Do some research first! The No Parking Weekend happened many years ago when the beach went from being private to public, just like in Neponsit.

  8. Thanks I haven’t been in the US that long.
    I always feel like an outsider when I go there. If I walk through they look at me. if I park in front of someone’s house, they look at me like they want to kill me. Is this normal?

  9. Around 1952 or a few years later. It was a political deal, at the community’s insistence to allow a public beach.

  10. I know all of the people involved and have worked with all of them. They are all very dedicated hard working individuals that want what is best for MB and the surrounding communities. They will all put the community’s interest before their own personal interests. They will spend as much time as necessary to try and solve a community problem and they have been doing this for MANY years. They will ALWAYS make themselves available to help you whenever you need them.

    There have been far too many misunderstandings that have caused this current unfortunate situation. It is time to finally put differences aside and work together in trying to improve the quality of life for everyone. When an unfortunate incident happens to a person, we do not ask if the person is from the community or if they are a member of any civic group, we spring into action and try to assist that person or that person’s family any way we can. Today there was ANOTHER accident in the community. Let’s work together as a community to try and prevent these traffic issues in the future. Let’s meet with a NYC official as a UNIFIED force.

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