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Go-Getting but 'Abrasive' Director Elects to Bow Out

April 11, 1985|TIM WATERS

REDONDO BEACH — Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jonathan Bernstein, who worked to bring the city an official bird (the Goodyear blimp) and official song ("Redondo Beach: For a Day or a Lifetime") has resigned.

Bernstein, 33, stepped down from his post March 29 after the board expressed concern about his "attitude" and sometimes "abrasive" personality, said Ernie O'Dell, a member of the chamber's board of directors.

"It wasn't any one thing that broke the camel's back," O'Dell said. "It was a matter that enough tonnage was put on the camel that it finally broke down."

"It came down to where he felt uncomfortable and decided to resign," O'Dell added.

Variety of Programs

O'Dell, who has been appointed the chamber's interim executive director, credited Bernstein with helping the city's merchants through a variety of chamber-sponsored programs, and increasing the organization's membership from about 300 to 600 businesses.

Bernstein declined to comment specifically on his relationship with the chamber's board except to say there was "occasional friction" as well as differences "as to where the chamber should be going."

"I just didn't feel comfortable any more in that position of leadership," he said.

Neither Bernstein nor O'Dell would say how much the chamber pays its executive director.

Bernstein was appointed executive director in 1982. A one-time investigative reporter, free-lance writer and West Coast manager for corporate communications at Playboy Enterprises Inc., he immediately earned a reputation as an aggressive, tireless promoter.

Dig at Politicians

He also became known for sometimes rubbing local politicians the wrong way. For example, he once stood up at a City Council meeting and, partly tongue-in-cheek, suggested that City Hall might be used as a gathering place for transient day workers who were loitering along Marshall Field and Rindge lanes waiting for employers to come along and pick them up. Residents had complained that the workers were a nuisance.

Bernstein, who lives in Redondo Beach, said he is forming his own public relations firm, Bernstein Communications. He said he will probably join the Chamber of Commerce.

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