|Posted by: MargieKieper, 6:38 PM GMT on July 06, 2007||+2|
Bill Proenza said in an interview Friday that he has no intention of resigning, but will step down if his bosses feel it is best for the center and the public.But...wouldn't stepping down be...kind of like...resigning?
As forecasters escalated their public attacks on the chief of the National Hurricane Center, accusing him of being both unqualified and unresponsive, an embattled Bill Proenza acknowledged Friday he would leave if his bosses asked him to. Proenza had previously refused calls for his resignation.And my suspicions on this count were confirmed:
Also Friday, several center employees said a surprise investigation of the center's management likely was initiated by Proenza's subordinates, not his superiors, as the center director has contended...What nobody expected...was for Proenza to make the investigation public and then say he was being attacked from above.And, ouch:
"He portrays himself as a David vs. Goliath, fighting for the little people, but that is not true. He's more Chicken Little," said Jorge, a 22-year veteran of the center. "These guys are not mad because Bill is speaking out. It's the fact that he misrepresents facts and information."
Senior forecaster Rick Knabb told Proenza by email that Proenza had publicly misrepresented remarks made by Knabb during a private conversation this week, and "I will no longer meet or talk with you in private."Along the same lines of what I emphsized this morning, two veteran tropical meteorologists, former Hurricane Specialist Miles Lawrence and former HRD head Hugh Willoughby, both commented on the professionalism of NHC staff and on the ability to provide quality forecasts, in spite of the current turmoil at the NHC.
"We did that very reluctantly, to go to the press. We have been trying to work these issues with Bill since he has gotten here, we have been trying to work these issues through the system. The Department of Commerce special team that came down here last week was here because we have been trying to work these issues, quietly, in the system. But we were afraid that our feelings were not going to be adequately carried back to the Department of Commerce, and we wanted them to know how strongly so many of the staff felt about what was going on here, about how difficult it was getting for us to do our jobs here.* the comments referred to in this morning's Miami Herald article are below:
"We wanted them to know unambiguously that we needed Bill to leave. He has misrepresented the views of his staff repeatedly, chronically, he's done it again in today's comments in the Herald.* The people who signed that letter are not afraid of losing their jobs. What they are afraid of is not being able to do their jobs effectively, to protect the American people from tropical cyclones.
"This is the same staff that worked so hard and came together as a family so well during Katrina and Rita and Wilma and the 2004 storms and the 2005 storms. This is the same staff and we want to be able to continue to do that, but Bill has poisoned the atmosphere here at the hurricane center.
"We're a small group. We have an enormous responsibility; we are responsible for the safety of millions and millions of people that we don't know. And where there are key events we pull together as a family to do that; we did it under Max and we did it under the directors before him.
"But he has divided the staff, he has been dismissive of the staff, he doesn't respect the staff. He lies about what we say. And it was time for us to very clearly state that there are two sides to this story, and that's why we made the statement that we made....There are staff members that will not meet with him in private, because they are afraid that he will lie or misrepresent what was said."
[Proenza] blamed nearly all of the turmoil on the actions of his bosses, particularly the ''extraordinary disruption'' caused by the inspection launched by five federal officials, including an attorney versed in personnel matters.The Miami Herald article this morning characterized Proenza as angry, and he said that he would not resign.
"That triggered a frenzy of concern [within his staff] about mission deliver and-or one's career," he said.
"I have employees tell me, 'Bill, I am so much for you and for what you've brought in. But I'm so afraid that if I'm viewed to be with you and you leave, then I'm viewed as being in the wrong camp,' " Proenza said.
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