Much ado about Anthony

The town is abuzz about Chico Unified School District Trustee Anthony Watts and his poorly pontificated letter to the editor published in Chico’s daily newspaper, in which the former TV weatherman bemoaned laws protecting wildlife species over public use of lands and, waxing ironic in Shakespearean mode, wondered if Chico should “kill all the environmentalists.”

In a move almost as weird, Trustee Steve O’Bryan, sitting in June 18 as school board chairman, didn’t want anyone talking about it.

Some self-described environmentalists told the board they considered Watts’ letter a “personal threat.” Rabbi Yitzhak Nates said, “Are you aware of how frightening it is for me to read in the paper the idea of killing a whole group of people?”

Easy, now. Watts may be naïve in thinking he can toss around political rhetoric the way he did before he held his non-partisan office, but suggesting he’s echoing Hitler? Hey, the guy was making a joke.

Watts has the right to hold personal opinions and share them in a public forum. But when most people read Watts’ name, they think “weatherman” or “school board.” There’s no separate category for “guy who writes letters to the editor.”

Here’s why it is relevant to his trustee role when Watts advocates, even as a joke, offing environmentalists: During his campaign, Watts blamed environmentalists for holding up the new high-school site. Now he’s on the board, where environmental laws are an issue. To say his letter is not related to district business is just an attempt to avoid conflict at a public meeting.

At the meeting and in a letter to the editor published in the daily the following morning, Watts offered up a weak ‘apology"—the type that goes out to ‘anyone I may have offended.”

He’s still not getting it, and neither are some of his fellow board members. But it’s hardly life or death. Chill out, guys. If you need something worthwhile to do, work on that high-school site. It’s been five years, after all.