Big loss for anyone worried about the scheming, secretive government entities and politicians so common in California cities, counties and Sacramento: The surprise death of Richard McKee, a widely respected expert on the California Public Records Act and Brown Act who sued some 30 cities and governments who kept public info secret from the public, beating most of them.

Numerous local Southern California papers (Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Daily Breeze, today published examples of Rich McKee fighting illegal secret meetings, illegal withholding of public data and other sneaky lawbreaking by California lawmakers themselves.

Gracious, friendly, sincere and tough, McKee was widely admired by community activists, the media and those fighting for good government in California.

He was, by training, a professor of chemistry at Pasadena City College, and later became a self-taught legal expert. He was for a time the only non-journalist on the Los Angeles Press Club board of directors, where he fought for sunshine laws and open government in Los Angeles County.

For further reading on the life of Richard McKee:

In this detailed post, Los Angeles journalist Karen Ocamb pens a fascinating tribute to the impact McKee had on forcing transparency in the vast Los Angeles County government.

In this story, McKee helped LA Weekly freelancer writer Paul Teetor as he investigated Manhattan Beach, where the City Council met illegally in secret — then quietly paid out $270,000 in public funds to a city manager accused of sexual misbehavior, all in order to avoid public discussion and controversy.

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