Friday, May 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: GM payment plan a step to right wrongs

No amount of money can replace a life or lessen the impact of serious injury. But General Motors' recent announcement that it will move swiftly to compensate victims of crashes in cars with faulty ignition switches is exactly what the company should do to take responsibility for its mistakes. GM has finally admitted its decadelong error and should hasten to make right its contract with consumers who have suffered because of the company's deceit.

Kenneth Feinberg, an independent claims administrator hired by GM to craft the company's victim compensation plans, said the company has not set a limit for the amount of money it will spend on victim payments. Eligible recipients will be limited to victims and the families of those killed or injured in one of the 2.6 million small cars GM recalled earlier this year because of faulty ignition switches. When bumped, the switches caused the engine to shut off and rendered air bags inoperable. The company, which has acknowledged at least 13 deaths and 54 injuries because of the faulty ignition switches, knew about the problem for at least 10 years before issuing a recall in February.

Crash victims or their relatives, including people who have reached settlements with GM, will be eligible to receive $1 million for each death and $300,000 for a spouse and each dependent. A victim's lifetime earning potential also will factor into compensation offers. GM will not consider driver negligence, such as driving under the influence, texting or speeding when it evaluates claims. And the company will allow claimants with incidents that occurred before its 2009 bankruptcy agreement to seek compensation. The announcement came just hours before GM issued yet another massive recall. This time, the company recalled 8.4 million automobiles with ignition switch problems. So far this year, GM has recalled 29 million automobiles in North America. GM expects safety repairs to cost the company $2.5 billion this year, a figure that does not include potential victim payouts.

As GM continues to march through this devastating period in its history, it should not haggle with the relatives of the dead or the injured. The company, which says many claims will be processed in as little as 90 days, should pay up and move on. If claimants are unhappy with Feinberg's offer, they should take their cases to court, where they should find a contrite GM ready to work out a deal. GM should not enter into protracted battles with victims who have already suffered enough.

It should not have taken a total meltdown for GM to be accountable for the quality of its products and recall them at the first sign of systemic failure. The company appears headed toward addressing its considerable wrongs. But even with seemingly endless recalls, criminal investigations, congressional scrutiny, a $35 million fine and the firing of 15 GM employees in June, government regulators cannot trust GM to police itself. It will take a concerted effort by the government, the company and the public to ensure GM remains accountable.

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Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyang’s nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Korea’s Kim Jong ...
Updated: 3 hours ago

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18