In a September 14, 2008 editorial, the Chicago Tribune chastised the Consumer Product Safety Commission[CPSC] and its Chairman, Nancy Nord, for an inexplicable failure to act after receiving information about potentially lethal design defects in certain baby bassinets. As detailed in my September 11, 2008 post, on August 27, 2008, the CPSC ordered a recall of 900,000 Simplicity Bassinets after a Tribune story revealed that a design flaw may have been a factor in the strangulation death of two infants. The next day Graco contacted the CPSC and advised that there were an additional 200,000 Simplicity bassinets floating around with the same precise defect, but marketed under the Graco name. As the editorial notes, the CPSC sat on the information for two weeks and finally issued a warning when the Tribune published another story about the Graco bassinets. As the editorial piece points out, just this year the CPSC was given more staff, more money and more freedom to keep the public informed about dangerous products. Chairman Nancy Nord was apparently against the recent innovations and the Tribune, a reliably Republican paper, has called for her resignation for “gross incompetence”. Senators Mark Pryor(D-Ark) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill) have requested a meeting with Nord. They are understandably dumbfounded why the Commission refused to make the public aware of a very real threat to infants. The editorial goes on to note however, that there really isn’t much mystery to the inertia demonstrated by the agency. Nord was against the recent reforms and her agency has ignored or resisted efforts by other agencies to assist with investigations of products that have caused children to die. In fact, the editorial notes, the agency seems bent on protecting the manufacturers of dangerous products. The Tribune closed the editorial by recommending that Nord “…find an exit sign and follow it.”

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