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Manhattan Beach civics come to belly blows

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The long-simmering feud between two opposing Manhattan Beach civic groups has finally come to blows — belly blows!

A stomach-to-stomach match between members of the rivaling factions left one cantankerous combatant with a bruised ego — and now one of them is demanding that the police settle the score.

Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association member Ed Eisenberg and Cy Schoenfeld of the Manhattan Beach Community Group threw their weight around — literally — during a Nov. 9 neighborhood safety meeting, according to Eisenberg.

As the two men argued nose-to-nose, Eisenberg claims that Schoenfeld, 72, thrust his stomach into the 77-year-old retired salesman.

“I could have been hurt,” griped Eisenberg, who said this “tummy bump heard ’round Manhattan Beach” nearly knocked him to the ground. “He was out of control.”

Witnesses to the outburst said the closed-door meeting of the 61st Precinct Community Council executive committee at the Bainbridge Adult Daycare Center on Ocean Avenue was winding down when Eisenberg declared that he was going to bring what was discussed to his Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association. Schoenfeld shouted Eisenberg down, claiming that he was disrupting the council meeting — and sparking the argument between the two men.

“They were yelling at each other,” Yves Etienne, the council president, remembered. “I had to intervene and call them off.”

Etienne said he didn’t see the alleged abdominal assault, but was nonetheless appalled by the septuagena­rians’ behavior.

“They both want [their group] to be the spokesman for Manhattan Beach,” he said. “This is a duel.”

Schoenfeld denied belly bumping Eisenberg, but admitted to grabbing the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association member by the elbow as he tried to escort him out of the senior center.

“He was interrupting the entire meeting,” Schoenfeld said. “He was just ranting. Ed is sick.”

Yet Eisenberg insists he’s serious about holding Schoenfeld’s feet to the fire — and plans on petitioning the NYPD to have his opponent removed from the precinct’s community council.

“I’m upset about this whole thing,” he said. “I’m not letting it go.”

Their proxy fight is the latest in a series of larger battles between the two organizations that date back to an acrimonious 2007 election, when current Manhattan Beach Community Group President Ira Zalcman unseated former president Ronald Biondo.

Biondo and his allies left the group the following year and formed the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association. Since then, the groups have clashed over everything from bike lanes to the neighborhood’s private security patrol to a dilapidated city-owned bathhouse.

“There’s been continued resentment after the election,” said Edmond Dweck, a member of the newer group. “It’s never been resolved.”

Zalcman wouldn’t comment on the war between the groups, but Schoenfeld said he’s losing his stomach over the back-and-forth bickering.

“It’s nonsensical that we have two groups instead of working together,” he said.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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