Bill Proenza, the man who replaced the legendary Max Mayfield as director of the National Hurricane Center when Mayfield retired in January, may not last long. It seems he’s committed the one sin that is simply not tolerated in the Bush Administration: disloyalty.
The new director of the National Hurricane Center, an outspoken critic of his superiors since he took over in January, charged Friday night that they are trying to muzzle him and could be setting him up for dismissal.
Bill Proenza said the acting director of the National Weather Service, Mary Glackin, visited his office in West Miami-Dade Friday and handed him a three-page letter of reprimand.
”I don’t think they can pull the rug out from under me right now,” Proenza said, “but there is no question they are trying to muzzle me.”
In recent interviews with The Miami Herald and other media, Proenza has strongly criticized leaders of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for spending millions of dollars on a public-relations campaign when hurricane forecasters deal with budget shortfalls.
One of his main concerns has been the imminent demise of a key weather satellite called QuikScat, launched in 1999 and long past its designed lifetime.
No replacement currently is in development and the loss of QuikScat could diminish the accuracy of some hurricane forecasts by up to 16 percent, Proenza and other experts have said. …
It was not the first time he has been disciplined since taking over the center.
Proenza said that on April 13, he was told by Louis Uccellini, a high-ranking weather service official: “You better stop these QuikScat [and other] complaints. I’m warning you. You have NOAA, DOC [the U.S. Department of Commerce] and the White House pissed off.”
You know, if the White House valued competence as much as it values lockstep loyalty — if they got more “pissed off” by the failings of cronies like “Heckuva Job” Brownie than by the honest opinions of men like Proenza — things would have gone a whole lot more smoothly over the past few years in this country (not to mention Iraq).
Luckily, the buffoons running the country have inadvertently stumbled upon a worthy public servant in Proenza. His response to their attempted muzzling of his legitimate concerns? “I’m not going to be silenced. I know my responsibilities and I know what I have to do.”
Capital Weather is right: Bully for Bill!
Hurricane forecasts are a matter of life or death. NOAA should work to satisfy the center’s requests or else publicly explain why money that could be going towards hurricane research is instead going to a NOAA re-branding campaign…
They can continue to try to silence Proenza, but he doesn’t seem to be in any mood to shut up. And good for him, considering that in advocating for his employees he’s really advocating for the millions of residents of coastal areas at risk in what is expected to be an above average hurricane season with heightened risk of a hurricane striking the U.S. mainland. …
NWS and NOAA leadership needs to navigate to the eye of this storm (they do it for real very well) and publicly work with Proenza to get him and his employees the resources they need to protect the American people. That includes pushing for a faster deployment of QuickScat satellite and for more hurricane research money to unlock the secrets of what determines hurricane track and intensity.
The hurricane season started on June 1. There is no more time to waste with this nonsense.
(Hat tip: Margie Kieper.)