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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

The State of Privatization



It’s rare to hear anyone who works for Gov. Jeb Bush – whether on staff or contract – argue against privatization. It’s especially rare when it’s the governor’s own lawyer.

But when it comes to voter registration, it turns out, only the state gets it right.

"The private entities are always going to exploit the public system for (their) private gain," attorney Pete Antonacci, who’s defending the state in an elections lawsuit, told a federal judge last week.

Come again?

Antonacci was arguing that by allowing third-party organizations, like the League of Women Voters, to collect and submit voter registration applications, the state had "privatized" – wrongly - a "quintessential government service." (Voter groups have sued to overturn the law because its fines for registration errors are so high.)

But Antonacci’s argument was so out of character for the state that even U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz found it difficult to exercise judicial restraint on her sense of humor. "Isn’t that (privatization) a good thing in our recent administration?" Seitz asked.

--Alisa Ulferts

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 3:11pm]


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