Sunday, June 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Fatal safety failure at GM

General Motors will pay a record fine for its gross failure to respond to a fatal flaw in the design of its cars. But continuing revelations of faulty engineering across many of the company's product lines — including a recall Tuesday of 2.4 million vehicles — make it all the more important that regulators and investigators continue digging until they are confident the company has been thoroughly examined. Despite millions of recalls and assurances, GM cannot be trusted to police itself.

GM agreed last week to pay $35 million in a civil settlement with the federal government over its failure to make timely reports about problems with the ignition switches in several of its small cars. The company also is facing a fine of $7,000 a day for failing to fully answer investigators' questions. Records show the company knew for a decade that a faulty ignition switch in several of its smaller lines of cars, including the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion, could cause the cars to lose power and deactivate air bags. The company has linked at least 13 deaths and 32 crashes to the faulty switches and acknowledges there could be more. The problem came to light in February when GM began what would become a recall of 2.6 million cars with ignition problems. In the months that followed, the recalls kept coming. GM recalled another 1.5 million cars in March for a variety of safety reasons. Last week, the company recalled 2.7 million cars and trucks amid concerns about faulty brake lamp wiring. And on Tuesday, it recalled 2.4 million cars and trucks for safety concerns ranging from seat belt fatigue issues to gear shift problems.

New GM chief executive Mary Barra has apologized to consumers and ordered a safety review of the company's entire fleet. The company said it expects to take a charge of $400 million in the second quarter for recall-related repairs. Four senior executives have resigned or left GM amid investigations by the Justice Department, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Questions are still unanswered about how much executives knew about the potentially fatal ignition switch flaw, when they learned about it and why they waited more than a decade to tell government regulators and consumers.

After failing repeatedly to protect its consumers, GM is now combing through its product lines and alerting consumers and dealers about defects. It also is settling at least 300 claims from families of individuals who died or were hurt in GM crashes. The company could have hidden behind a federal law designed to shield it from litigation regarding crashes that happened before 2009, when the company filed for bankruptcy. GM's lawyers are vigorously fighting other cases regarding its faulty ignition switches that did not result in death or injury.

The path back to a restored reputation for GM will be a long one, especially in light of deception that stretched more than a decade and ended in death for at least 13 people. It should not have taken such a deadly debacle to force GM to adopt what should have been standard operating procedure: a commitment to transparency and quick action to fix product failures. Profit cannot be valued more than consumer safety and federal regulators should continue to dig.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18