Lawmakers: Former Hurricane Center Head Should Get Old Job

August 9, 2007

If the ousted director of the National Hurricane Center is not allowed to return to his job, he should at least be assigned to his previous weather-related position, two lawmakers said Monday.

U.S. Reps. Brad Miller, D-N.C., and Nick Lampson, D-Texas, who chair science and technology subcommittees, said Bill Proenza was unfairly removed from his post last month. In a letter, they asked National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Conrad Lautenbacher to return Proenza to the position of southern regional director of the National Weather Service, a job he held for almost a decade. The position has been vacant since Proenza left in January to take the hurricane center post.

A NOAA spokesman did not return messages left on his cell phone Monday evening.

Proenza went on leave July 7, days after almost half his staff signed a statement urging his dismissal. They said his earlier comments about an aging weather satellite were exaggerated and undermined the public’s confidence in the hurricane center’s forecasting abilities.

A Department of Commerce team was brought in to investigate and said in a report that Proenza “failed to demonstrate leadership” and should not be allowed to return as director of the hurricane center.

Officials of NOAA are reviewing the investigation and have not announced their final decision on Proenza’s job status.

Proenza wrote his superiors a letter last week, saying they retaliated against him for his criticism of the satellite and that his removal was illegal under the Whistleblower Protection Act.

Topics Catastrophe Natural Disasters Legislation Hurricane Talent

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