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  • Monday, April 25, 2011

     

    Richard McKee of Californians Aware dies


    Richard McKee of Californians Aware dies

    Richard McKee,Vice President for Open Government Compliance for Californians Aware, died over the weekend according to an email from that group he helped found. McKee, who had many appearances in Orange Unified before the Board over the years, and had many court battles with the law firm of Parker & Covert (the firm that represents OUSD and many other school districts in Southern California), passed away unexpectently.

    McKee retired from a 35-year career as professor of chemistry at Pasadena City College.Since 1993 he had been an activist for open local government, educating officials in more than 100 local agencies on the requirements of the Ralph M. Brown Act and California Public Records Act. The founding president of Californians Aware, he had also served on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Press Club and as president of the California First Amendment Coalition. He was a frequent speaker onopen government issues to community organizations, public officials, media groups, public agency attorneys, and college and university journalism classes.

    While most of McKee's efforts were focused on open government education, to protect the public's rights he had also litigated fourteen successful open government and First Amendment lawsuits, often representing himself. According to his official biography on the Californians Aware website, KPFK radio dubbed McKee "John Q. Citizen." KCET's Life & Times Tonight called him "the citizen who won't shut up and go away." The Times characterized him as "the scourge of public agencies across the eastern suburbs of Los Angeles County" who "walks softly and carries a big stick." Sacramento Bee christened him "Mr. Sunshine," a man with "a head for the law, a heart for justice and a nose for government officials with secrets."

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