Saturday, August 12, 2006

Letter to governor to keep Michaels as state climatologist

August 12, 2006
Dear Governor,

I ask that you keep Patrick Michaels as the state climatologist. Michaels was appointed by Governor John Dalton in 1980. Michaels has much experience and institutional memory. He has observed Virginia's climate with his own eyes for decades.

Michaels is an independent thinker and has the integrity and character to stand by his conclusions. I hope you will see through the arguments for his dismissal:

(1) He accepts funds for research from private entities who have interest in his expertise, which is allowed for 52 days a year for all professors. Michaels' dismissal would set a chilling precedent in the academic world. Robust debate is not possible when all the debaters are in agreement.

(2) Some have charged that Michaels is not the true state climatologist because he seems to be appointed for life. Like the vast majority of employees, he was hired for an indefinite term, until he becomes unavailable or is replaced. Examples of indefinite appointments include city managers, police chiefs, sheriffs, directors of innumerable agencies. These non-constitutional office-holders do not require rehiring at specified intervals.

As an at-risk high school student, I worked for a UVa graduate student helping with his dissertation for two summers in the late 1970s in the environmental sciences department. I remember seeing Michaels. I went on to earn a B.S. in Meteorology from N.C. State University.

I ask that you look beyond the the current campaign of innuendo and McCarthyism to remove Michaels. Please stand up for a minority viewpoint on a controversial scientific topic. Please stand up for intellectual and academic freedom.

Please do not fire Pat Michaels.

Blair Hawkins
Charlottesville, Va.
Email the Governor
telephone (804-786-2211) or fax (804-371-6351)


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