I think the public should be aware that Commerce Department politics have cost us a fine scientist and administrator. Joe Friday was recently removed as director of the National Weather Service for trying "to do the right thing."
The NWS has a mission to protect life and property. It does its job with far greater efficiency in the field than do most federal agencies. Like all such agencies, the NWS has been under great pressure to reduce staffing and expenses.
Friday had supervised the congressionally mandated modernization of the NWS to produce what is unquestionably the world's finest weather service. Faced with the necessity to cut staff, he chose to close the Southern Region administrative headquarters, rather than to weaken the field staff at forecast offices. Sen. Kay Hutchison of Texas, outraged at the scheduled loss of high-level federal jobs in her state, summoned Friday to hearings and -- dissatisfied with his forthright answers -- proceeded to pressure Secretary of Commerce William Daley to remove him.
So Daley ordered National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Chief D. James Baker to boot Friday. But Baker and Daley "tossed Friday a fish," offering him a position with the Marine and Fisheries Agency.
Most of us in the meteorological community hold Friday in great esteem. He has dedicated much of his distinguished career as a scientist to the protection of the public. He has been the type of public servant we all want in high office. For trying to maintain the NWS mission at minimal cost, a world-class meteorologist has been lost. What a travesty!
Don Paul Chief Meteorologist, WIVB