Monday, December 18, 2017
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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Looking back at 2017 through the eyes of editorial cartoonists

Looking back at 2017 through the eyes of editorial cartoonists

The annual Editorial Cartoon Round-Up is a thought-provoking recap of a momentous 2017. The gallery containing 32 cartoons from some of the best editorial cartoonists in the country is made available by the Washington Post News Service & Syndicat...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17