School board member faces censure over obscene gesture

Posted: Friday, May 04, 2007

KETCHIKAN - A Ketchikan School Board member said an obscene gesture he made at a recent meeting was inappropriate, and he agreed with a colleague that he should be censured.

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"I am ashamed of myself, that I did it and that kids are contemplating that they should have a 'flip-your-teacher-off' day," Carl Webb said, referring to a suggestion he saw on a local Web site.

School board President Dave Lieben has asked the board to censure Webb, who said he probably will vote in favor of the proposal. The board is expected to take up the matter at its meeting next Wednesday.

Webb made the gesture toward a teacher who was speaking at the April 25 meeting. The next day, Webb apologized to Myra Zelensky and later in a letter published Tuesday in the Ketchikan Daily News.

Lieben said he did not see Webb's gesture when it occurred.

"The first I heard about it was from students discussing it on Ketchikan Underground (the local site), and then I got phone calls and e-mails about it," he said.

Webb said he has no justification for making the gesture.

"Whether I agree with her or not on anything doesn't make any difference," he said. "She has every right to say what she wants without ridicule. It was a knee-jerk reaction to the way I was feeling at that moment."

Zelensky confirmed that Webb had apologized.

"I am a gracious person," she said. "I said thank you for apologizing. But I told him he had done it in public and on TV and the community of Ketchikan was offended."

A censure is an official reprimand, and if the resolution passes, "We're saying as a board that we find this unacceptable," Lieben said. "We don't actually slap his hand or fine him. We're just making a statement as a board."

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