Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) yesterday amended his SB 8 on the Assembly Floor to title it as “The Richard McKee Transparency Act of 2011.”  The bill, his third legislative attempt to bring transparency to foundations and other “auxiliary organizations” at CSU, UC and community college campuses, is his leading open government measure this year.  Richard McKee, who died suddenly on April 23, was a co-founder and first president of Californians Aware, a non-lawyer whose efforts to bring sunshine to local government were unrivaled in their frequency and success.

“Speaking for ourselves and, we are confident, for Rich’s family, we are delighted and grateful to Senator Yee for this lasting tribute to Rich’s stature in the history of California public affairs,” said CalAware Executive Director Emily Francke.

“Obviously, to do justice to his own long and unrelenting fight for higher education transparency, SB 8 should bear his name as well, although he will always be remembered as a champion for such issues nonetheless.

“The fact that Senator Yee is running for mayor of San Francisco should leave us with mixed emotions. That city’s gain would be a loss to the Legislature of its most consistent and effective champion of what we call public forum law—not just government transparency, but also whistleblower protection and the rights of professional and student journalists.

“Ralph M. Brown, Bill Bagley and Quentin Kopp achieved undeniable milestones of legislation favorable to open government, but none of them had such a comprehensive record of advancement for all the components relevant to CalAware’s stated mission: ‘Helping citizens, officials and journalists keep Californians aware of public issues, by supporting and defending open government, an inquiring press, and a citizenry free to exchange facts and opinions.'”