Jerry Brown pitched Californians on the concept that he was the right person to heal California’s woes because of his experience. He admitted that at 72 years of age, this was the last stop of his political career and so he could fearlessly confront the state’s daunting challenges. Not only does Brown have to lasso an out-of-control budget, he must also straighten out a dysfunctional government.
Mark Neuman contacted me after reading my column, “California Demise,” which focused on the budget and other problems in the state. Mr. Neuman, a CPA in Southern California, has a tale to tell of just how inept state operations have become.
Neuman attempted to file a Statement of Information form with the Secretary of State for a California-based Limited Liability Company (LLC). Forms like these are routinely filed in every state for entities like corporations and LLCs in order to maintain a public database of current information. As a result, any resident of the state can look to see the company is properly registered and also to determine who might be hiding behind that entity’s name. Neuman files these forms for other companies with many states around the country, usually without any problems.
In early July, Mr. Neuman dutifully filed his company’s form with California’s Secretary of State. At the end of November, he received a letter from that office with his form and his check. It stated that his check was not honored by his bank. The reason it wasn’t honored was that the bank will not accept any checks older than 90 days. Incredibly, the state had not processed his paperwork within 90 days of receipt and now was asking him for a new check. Not only did the state want a new check, but this time they were insisting upon a cashier’s check.
Furthermore, while the original check was for $20, now they were demanding $30. Because the state cannot handle its business in a timely manner, it was forcing a taxpayer to pay a penalty as well as endure the time-consuming process of getting a cashier’s check -- for which his bank would charge him a fee. Neuman tried to contact the Secretary of State’s office, but no one answers the phone and the recording says you should not leave a message. In other states, he could have easily filed this form online, but Secretary of State Debra Bowen has not been able to get this simple procedure computerized yet. And she was reelected by 1.4 million votes.