Monday, May 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Sharpen scrutiny on GM

General Motors chief executive Mary Barra has fired 15 people after an internal investigation released Thursday detailed a decadelong pattern of willful neglect by the company. Finally, someone is being held accountable for the 13 deaths and 54 accidents that GM acknowledges are a result of faulty ignition switches in its small cars that caused them to lose power and disabled airbags. But there are many more questions for GM. The Justice Department should not trust that GM has been completely transparent in its self examination.

A 325-page report recounts GM's repeated failure to disclose problems with its ignition switches. An engineer wrote about the "switch from hell" in a 2002 email before the rollout of the Saturn Ion. A former CEO test drove a Chevrolet Cobalt and "kneed off" the ignition in 2004. Lawyers began learning of driver deaths and worked to shield the company from liability. A junior lawyer was rebuffed upon raising the question of a recall in 2012.

General Motors finally issued a recall in February that grew to include 2.6 million small cars with ignition switch problems. It acknowledged the deaths and pledged to investigate itself. The company also issued dozens of unrelated recalls involving millions of cars and trucks with problems on parts ranging from seat belts to airbags. In May, the federal government fined GM $35 million for failing to act on its faulty ignitions switches in a time manner. GM will spend more than a billion dollars in recall-related repairs and lawsuit settlements.

Throughout the airing of its problems, GM has behaved like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Executives appear contrite, issue massive recalls and pledge to revamp safety practices. But they also continue to deceive. GM, for example, publicly acknowledged 13 deaths as a result of ignition switch accidents. But the company did not tell families that their loved ones were included in that count. That is hardly the behavior of a company committed to transparency and accountability.

Now that Barra has cleaned house, she should focus on overhauling a culture that protects the company at all costs. Employees, regardless of their rank or assignment, should feel comfortable sharing their concerns with their superiors and following up when nothing is done. .

The internal investigation released last week should not represent the end of scrutiny for GM. Opportunities remain to fully understand what happened, hold the company accountable and create a more vigorous regulatory framework to respond to such willful negligence before so many are killed.

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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...
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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
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
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: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18