It has been almost two months since the last issue of the muckraking bimonthly newspaper, which started publishing in April of 2014, was seen on the streets of Imperial Beach.
In early October, publisher Ed Kravitz sent out a mass email with the subject "Termination of I.B. Local News,” saying, "I currently am unable to make all of my payroll and pay the printer. I have no more credit to fall back on and by the 18th of this month I am looking at a financial default for the first time in my life."
Kravitz said in a separate email, "I won't call it permanent. I have just over-extended my personal finances…. The paper actually is making a small amount of money, however, my credit card debt payments and my travel/living expenses are putting me in the red."
The paper often covered conflicts that the paper itself was involved in, some of which affected its advertising revenue.
One conflict was with the rival local newspaper, the weekly Imperial Beach and South County Eagle & Times, over allegations by that paper that Kravitz's paper had misused copyrighted material and was putting its issues into the Eagle & Times paper racks; Kravitz in turn filed a criminal complaint charging the distributor of the Eagle & Times with taking I.B. Local News issues from locations around Imperial Beach and trashing them.
At the time, Kravitz said police advised him to stop following around the Eagle & Times delivery driver: "The cops are telling me I need to back off a little bit," Kravitz said.
In another public conflict covered in his newspaper, Kravitz accused Christine LaPausky, an executive board member of the Imperial Beach Chamber of Commerce at the time and owner of Dames Spa, of organizing an advertising boycott of his paper and of delivering his newspaper without permission.
According to LaPausky, the conflict started when she declined to pay in advance for a large advertising purchase that she was trying to organize at a discount with the paper's editor, Stacey Long, who was a personal acquaintance. LaPausky said that soon afterward she had an unpleasant interaction with Kravitz in a public park at a city-sponsored event that made her decide against further business with the paper.
According to Kravitz, LaPausky "was trying to use her friendship with Stacey to circumvent my authority with my own staff." He said the interaction at the park involved him telling LaPausky, "I would appreciate it if you would not interfere with my staff or company policy."
"From then on he considered me his enemy," LaPausky said. "Then the cease-and-desist letter showed up." The letter from Kravitz mentioned the alleged boycott as well as the tampering with the issues and read in part, "We demand immediate payment of $5000 for damages" and "we further demand that you write a letter; suitable for publication, where you admit to these acts and a public apology."
"My attorney said don't even pay attention to it," LaPausky said of the letter.
LaPausky said she never organized a boycott. "When people asked me, I would give my opinion," she said. When people complained to her about Kravitz, she would tell them "the only way we're going to stop him is to stop advertising."
"[Kravitz] might be a little eccentric, but he's great. He has a big heart," said Briana Scherr, the paper's former sales manager.
Scherr now works at Ye Olde Plank Inn, where she was hired for her I.B. Local News job and where they had staff meetings.
"I don't know anyone else who would commute from Chicago out here just because he cares so much about I.B.,” Scherr said. “I wish we had more interest from our community to back him up."
Despite the commuting, Kravitz and his newspaper and websites have long been an active presence in Imperial Beach, with Kravitz often sparring with elected officials. He once posted a Youtube video of an angry interaction during a city council meeting with the previous mayor, Jim Janney.
Janney said he has known Kravitz for many years and they have friendly relationship. "Ed is Ed," Janney said. "It's like having a sparring partner…. Ed wouldn't take it personal.
"I say more power to Ed, how long did he keep it [the newspaper] going without the resources others had?"
Kravitz said he had expected more Imperial Beach citizens to help the paper. "If we had the support of the community we could continue," he said. "I thought the community would come onboard sooner to participate."
Kravitz used to run the SaveIB.com website, which he closed down in 2011, saying at the time, "We're ending our website due to lack of community support and participation."
Tim O’Neal, who along with his wife Candy Unger is an active community leader and a member of the Imperial Beach Chamber of Commerce, said, “Kravitz has always been supportive of the various events and causes Candy and I get involved with. He always was extremely generous when it came to providing us space in the Local News to promote our activities.
“However, I think he made a few mistakes on the business side of things that were bound to catch up to him,” O’Neal said. “Personnel issues and not recognizing the paper is a brand and subsequently protecting said brand are two examples that immediately come to mind.”
Kravitz said, "I will continue to post some stuff on Facebook" as well as on IBlocalnews.com.
Disclosure: The author had articles published in the I.B. Local News.