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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Ed Buss: 'Everybody in this state's so paranoid'



For nearly two-and-a-half hours Monday, former Corrections Secretary Ed Buss answered questions about the privatization of prisons in 18 South Florida counties. The deposition was taken by attorneys for the Police Benevolent Association, which is suing the state in an effort to block the outsourcing (the PBA released a transcript of Buss' testimony).

At one point in the deposition, Buss mentions "paranoid" state employees. PBA lawyer Kelly Overstreet Johnson asked Buss about an email from two corrections staffers, Mark Tallent and Richard Prudom, who were discussing "moving monies around" in the agency's budget.

Johnson: "Was there a concern being expressed about this being put in an email?

"I don't know," Buss replied. "Everybody in this state's so paranoid."

Buss did not offer an opinion as to whether the privatization is a good idea. Here's an interesting exchange between Buss and  Johnson, who's asking the questions.

Q (Johnson). Okay. Had you ever heard of an RFP (request for proposals) or an outsourcing that was as large as this one?

A (Buss). No. This is the largest that I've ever heard of for private business.

Q. If you were evaluating it, would you think this was a good idea?

A. I think we talked about that before.

Q. Well, I'm asking for your personal opinion.

A. And my personal opinion is government should always look to provide services in a more efficient, effective manner. Ultimately, whether this specific issue is a good idea will come back with what I said previously. If the procurement comes back, it saves money, it reduces recidivism and we keep the same level of securing those facilities, it would be a good deal. But I don't have anything to -- I don't have the experience -- 

Q. You don't know one way or the other, based on what the information is?

A. I don't have any experience in something like this. 



[Last modified: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 2:21pm]


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