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McKee: final win against a college behaving badly

Monday, May 9, 2011

image Back in December open government champion Richard P. McKee made a routine request for public documents from the Contra Costa Community College District. He asked to see chancellor Helen Benjamin’s contract, the minutes of the meeting at which it was approved, her credit card statement and her conflict of interest statement.

Add district: The district responded by illegally charging him $40 an hour to compile records, and presented him a bill of $80. McKee filed suit, and the Contra Costa Times says it’s near to settlement. For its poor behavior, the college district overseen by Benjamin may be on the hook for $19,000 in plaintiff’s legal expenses, plus paying its own attorneys “an additional $13,000 for their lousy advice.” Yes, $32,000 is a lot of photo copies.

Add McKee: McKee won’t have the satisfaction of another open records battle won. The longtime Southern California college instructor died of a heart attack in April. From his L. A. Times obituary:
Despite his lack of formal legal training, the longtime Pasadena City College instructor "took to court and won more open government … lawsuits than any member of the State Bar of California," said Terry Francke, general counsel of Californians Aware, the advocacy group that McKee co-founded with Francke and his daughter, Emily, in 2004. "He was both the good cop and the bad cop of local government transparency in this state."

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