“Great Caesar’s Ghost!” SOS Battles Backlog With 3 x 5 Cards

by Allen Matkins

As part of the state budge process, state agencies must appear and testify before legislative budget committees. I recall some stressful moments testifying on the Corporations Committee Budget before a budget committee chaired by then Senator Steve Peace who who was already famous for writing and producing Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! among other solanum lycopersicum attack films.

This week, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen testified before Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 4 on State Administration. For all of you who have been repining over turnaround times at the SOS’ office, the staff report and the Secretary’s testimony, while depressing, should at least explain what the problems are.

Turnaround time and backlog are improving but are still completely unacceptable for a modern commercial state. According to the Subcommittee staff’s report,

Business Entity filings currently have a backlog of approximately 45,000 documents and the Statements of Information (SI) backlog is approximately 77,000 documents, for a total of 122,000 documents. As of March 7, 2013, the turnaround time for Business Entity documents is 65 calendar days and Statements of Information filings is 54 calendar days.

According to this article by Brian Joseph at the Orange County Register, Secretary Bowen described an office that “processes hundreds of thousands of critical business documents using a filing system reliant on three-by-five index cards” and is “maxed out” on electrical outlets.

According to this story in the State Worker (a section of The Sacramento Bee), legislators are proposing to spend $8.9 million and to achieve a five day turnaround.

“Remember March, the ides of March remember:
Did not great Julius bleed for justice’ sake?”

Today is the Ides of March. The term refers to the Roman calendar system which was based on three dates in each month, known as the Kalends or Calends (think calendar), Nones and Ides. The Kalends always falls on the first of the month, the Nones, depending on the month, falls on either the fifth or seventh day, and the Ides is eight days after the Nones. Because the Nones falls on March 7, the Ides of March falls on March 15. In April, the Nones falls on the 5th and thus, the Ides of April is on the 13th.

March 15 is, of course, famous because it is the date on which Gaius Julius Caesar was murdered. See my post from two years ago. But what about Caesar’s ghost? I vividly remember Perry White from the television Superman series exclaiming “Great Caesar’s Ghost!”. Nearly two millenia ago, the historian Plutarch relates that a ghost appeared before Brutus and says:

‘? s??, ? ????te, da?µ?? ?a???: ??e? d? µe pe?? F???pp???.’ ?a? ? ????t?? ?? d?ata?a??e??, ‘???µa?,’ e?pe? (“Brutus, I am your evil spirit and will appear to you at Philippi.” Undistressed, Brutus said: “I’ll see you.”)

Plutarch, Brutus 36.4. Later, before the Battle of Philippi, the phantom visits Brutus again but says nothing. Brutus loses the battle and commits suicide. William Shakespeare relates the same story in Act IV, Scene III of Julius Caesar:

GHOST [Caesar]: Thy evil spirit, Brutus.

BRUTUS: Why comest thou?

GHOST: To tell thee thou shalt see me at Philippi.

BRUTUS: Well; then I shall see thee again?

GHOST: Ay, at Philippi.

BRUTUS: Why, I will see thee at Philippi, then.

So, perhaps it’s not such a good thing to see Caesar’s ghost.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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