Saturday, January 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: JPMorgan misdeeds deserve more than a big fine

Only in the financial industry can a giant-size fraud be wiped away by writing a big enough check. A whopper settlement deal is in the works in which JPMorgan Chase would pay a record $11 billion or more to the Justice Department to end federal investigations into its behavior in the runup to the financial crisis. But if the settlement is to serve as a warning for the rest of the financial industry, it must include an admission of wrongdoing and hold open the possibility that individuals be held personally responsible.

A recent meeting between Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan's chief, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder demonstrates how spooked Wall Street gets when the government takes seriously its duty to enforce laws against misleading and cheating investors. Now the department should press its advantage, not just by jacking up the dollar figure but by requiring admissions by the firm and personal liability for some. The financiers on Wall Street got fabulously rich by packaging, rating and selling securities that many knew were worthless. It is infuriating that they have not been prosecuted.

JPMorgan is in the middle of a campaign to get out from under the crush of litigation and regulatory investigations. Just weeks ago the firm agreed to pay about $920 million in penalties to government regulators over its lack of internal oversight controls that led to $6.2 billion in "London Whale" trading losses last year. In that settlement it did admit wrongdoing. But the pattern in settlements between the government and banks involved in wrongdoing associated with the financial crisis has been a form of checkbook justice. Write a large check and buy yourself out of trouble. For instance, in 2010 Goldman Sachs paid $550 million to settle charges of materially misleading investors in the sale of mortgage-related securities. It admitted no wrongdoing.

An $11 billion settlement is significant, but it doesn't come close to making up for the financial damage caused by the sale of toxic mortgage securities. It is also unfair that the people who sold investments they allegedly knew were junk will escape with their millions intact. Government-imposed fines and penalties would come from the firm's shareholders and potentially taxpayers, since the payout could be tax-deductible.

If Holder wants his legacy to be something other than letting Wall Street off the hook, he will need to extract something beyond a big check. He cannot allow JPMorgan to walk away from its misdeeds without the kind of accountability that people who don't have billions of dollars at their disposal would face.

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Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18