National Hurricane Center employees want Director to resign

By Jay Grey
NBC News

Scientists at the National Hurricane Center make their living predicting and tracking storms.

However, most say they have never found themselves in the middle of a disturbance like the one that currently grips their agency.

Now in the middle of hurricane season, many say they want their outspoken boss to step down.

This is not the kind of storm they are used to at the National Hurricane Center.

"There has never been so many closed doors so much intrigue at the Hurricane Center as there is now and that is really unfortunate," said N.H.C.'s Administrative Officer Vivian Jorge.

At least half of the small staff at the hurricane center has signed a letter demanding Bill Proenza be removed as director of the agency amid concerns his actions could affect the way they forecast and deal with storms this year.

"That takes a certain amount of teamwork and appreciation and sense of family and he is destroying that," said Senior Hurricane Specialist James Franklin.

Proenza has been controversial in his six months as director of the hurricane center, lashing out at the center's parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and questioning publicly if aging equipment will hold up for forecasters.

He's received a letter of reprimand and this week federal investigators made a surprise visit to the facility to begin an assessment of conditions there.

"I work for the American people, and I've got to make sure I have that ability to share with them the condition of THEIR National Hurricane Center," said Proenza.

Several scientists at the hurricane center say their boss has misrepresented the situation for political gain and has made working conditions unbearable.

"There are a lot of people losing a lot of sleep over this," said, Franklin.

Right now, there may be no measurable wind speed and no surge in the surf but this controversy is clearly the first major storm of the season.

Bill Proenza has not talked publicly since his staff released their letter to the media.

The N.O.A.A has declined any comment on the situation at the hurricane center and officials say they won't talk during the on-going investigation at the National Hurricane Center.