Manhattan Beach ‘treason’ - MBNA sees dark motive in rival’s actions

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There are no traitors in Manhattan Beach – especially if all they’re doing is trying to help the community.

So said members of the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association (MBNA) who lashed out against fellow activists and sometime competitors who make up the Manhattan Beach Community Group (MBCG), which they claim badmouthed and then booted longtime member Howard Prusack from a high-profile position because he belongs to both organizations.

Prusack was chair of the Manhattan Beach Community Group’s police council for many years before the group’s new administration allegedly removed him from the post.

MBNA members allege that Prusack was removed from the post because he was a member of their organization, which came on the scene in February.

The MBCG called Prusack “a traitor,” MBNA members allege.

Speaking in generalities, MBNA board member Edmond Dweck never identified the ousted MBCG member during Monday’s meeting at P.S. 195 on Irwin Street, but said that he “should never have been labeled a traitor.”

“We [the MBNA] only want to make Manhattan Beach a better community,” said Dweck. “No one should label another person a traitor because they want to do the same thing.”

Dweck claimed that the ouster has left people “feeling intimidated” about choosing which group to align with.

“But they’re not going to divide us, they’re going to make us whole,” he explained. “We’re all here for the same reason, there is no reason why the two groups shouldn’t co-exist. People have the right to be part of both groups.”

While his name wasn’t mentioned, Prusack stood up at the close of the meeting saying that he was the MBCG’s booted council chair.

“I refuse to pick and choose or have people telling me who I should work with,” Prusack said. “I’m not a traitor, I just want to maintain lines of communication with both groups.”

MBCG President Ira Zalcman dismissed Dweck’s criticism, insisting that the decision to make a change on the police council had nothing to do with Prusack’s involvement with the MBNA.

“They [the MBNA] don’t fit into my thinking at all,” Zalcman said. “I would think they had more important things to talk about. I have to do what’s right for my group and what’s right for the community.”

Several members of the MBNA – including high profile members like Dweck, Al Smaldone and Ronald Biondo – are still part of the MBCG, he said.

According to Zalcman, Dweck and Smaldone both remain members of the MBCG’s board of directors, while Biondo – as a former president – continues to be a “director for life.”

—with Joe Maniscalco

Updated 3:44 pm, October 19, 2011
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