Opinion

VW’s deceit, cops’ deadly sloppiness and felony tawdry

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Federal and state officials are forcing Volkswagen to pay $14.7 billion for its deceit. An investigative report details stunning lapses by police that worsen to California’s gun violence problem, as California legislators work on bills that would restrict guns for other people. Jessica A. Levinson writes about the difference between felony tawdry and felonies. It’s a distinction with a difference, legally speaking.

Take that

Drew Kodjak recalled the beginnings of the Volkswagen scandal, on the day when U.S. officials, Attorney General Kamala Harris and California Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols announced the $14.7 billion settlement with the world’s largest automaker.

Kodjak is executive director of the nonprofit International Council on Clean Transportation, which detected inexplicably high emissions from diesel engineers and triggered the investigation by informing the California Air Resources Board.

Working with the air board in 2014, the council’s employees rented a Beetle and leased a Passat that had been advertised on Craigslist. With help from West Virginia University researchers, who monitored the emissions, they drove them in L.A., San Diego and San Francisco.

“Emissions were off the charts,” Kodjak said by phone. But when California air board engineers tested them in ARB’s El Monte lab, the emissions were super-low.

“We thought the calibration was wrong. We weren’t thinking malfeasance.”

And then last Sept. 18, U.S. and California officials announced their findings that Volkswagen had systematically installed defeat devices designed to manipulate smog tests: “I was completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of what they found, basically speechless.”

Imagine what Volkswagen’s executives must be thinking now that they’re preparing to pay $14.7 billion.

Our take

Editorial: The $14.7 billion Volkswagen settlement could aid innovation. Volkswagen’s reputation is another question.

Editorial: Regional Transit trims some sweeteners from Mike Wiley’s exit deal.

Dan Walters: Should ‘ex parte’ discussions with California Public Utilities Commission officials be restricted, and what of legislators?

Jessica A. Levinson: Acting in the case of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, the U.S. Supreme Court draws a distinction between what is run-of-the-mill tawdry politics and what’s illegal.

Manuel Pastor: Here’s what Bernie Sanders supporters should not do.

Their take

The L.A. Times: What about criminal accountability for Volkswagen?

The San Francisco Chronicle: Now that water districts are opting not to save water, Gov. Jerry Brown should reconsider issuing mandatory water restrictions.

The Orange County Register: The California Assembly waters down education reform legislation, amending Susan Bonilla’s Assembly Bill 932 into irrelevance.

The Denver Post: Marijuana use among high school students in Colorado has basically been flat.

The Miami Herald: The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta should strike down Florida’s Docs vs. Glocks statute, which bars physicians from asking whether patients have guns in the home.

The Kansas City Star: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill to eliminate requirements that people get training and a permit before being allowed to carry concealed weapons, and undergo criminal background checks. Will the Legislature override the veto?

Syndicates’ take

Kathleen Parker: The Hillary Clinton-Elizabeth Warren ’60s sister-clones – wearing blond bobs and shades of blue – hit Donald Trump with a gobsmacking double-punch.

David Brooks: We all have a sense of what that working-class honor code was, but if you want a refresher, I recommend J.D. Vance’s new book “Hillbilly Elegy.”

Take a number: 944

The Bay Area News Group reports that police, California Highway Patrol officers and federal law enforcement officials including FBI agents have had 944 weapons stolen or lost since 2010. The count includes assault rifles, some equipped with grenade launchers. Some guns were used in murders. From the top to bottom of the ranks, The Merc opines, police should be embarrassed.

In the California Legislature, Democrats proceeded this week to approve gun control legislation. Sen. Jerry Hill, a San Mateo Democrat, is carrying a bill to require cops to stow their guns in ways that will ensure they don’t get stolen.

Maybe legislators should pass a law requiring that cops to use common sense.

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