Claremont Insider: April 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Remembering Richard McKee

In case you haven't already heard, Richard McKee died Saturday. McKee, an open government activist who lived in La Verne, was well-known in Claremont, having taken the City to court a few times during the Glenn Southard administration.

Just last month, McKee had an opinion piece in the Daily Bulletin (now sequestered behind the Bulletin's pay wall) reminding readers of the responsibility each of us bears in a participatory democracy and of the risks we take in shirking those duties.

McKee, who taught chemistry at Pasadena City College, was a citizen activist in the purest sense, and, as former Claremont Courier reporter Gary Scott notes, we all have McKee to thank for our access to local government records:

McKee fought every day to ensure California lived up to a simple and obvious idea. He believed the public has a right to know what the government it elected was doing....

It was a simple idea, and yet McKee spent more than a decade fighting nearly identical battles in city after city, county after county, as craven government officials decided it was easier to conceal than to reveal. The salary scandal in the City of Bell - the one that won the Los Angeles Times a Pulitzer - shows what happens when people like McKee are not around. He not only fought his battles, but he fought countless battles on behalf of people who did not know they had rights.

We first saw McKee when he was active with the California First Amendment Coalition and then later when he, CFAC general counsel Terry Francke, and others broke off and formed Californians Aware, another open government activist group.

La Verne Online has an obit for McKee, and it reminds us that his activism did carry a personal cost:

While most of McKee’s efforts were focused on open government education, to protect the public’s rights, he also litigated 14 successful open government and First Amendment lawsuits, often representing himself. KPFK radio dubbed him “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.” The 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.”

His crusade at time took great personal and financial toll. After suing the Orange Unified School District Board for alleged violations of the Brown Act in 2007, McKee as the losing plaintiff was responsible for paying thousands in attorney’s fees and court costs, forcing McKee to take a lien on his home and suffer garnishment of his wages.

Whether you realize it or not, you owe a great deal to Richard McKee, and you can best honor that debt by getting involved in the governance of your city, your school district, your water district and holding them accountable whenever they stonewall you on information that is rightly yours.

It's become fashionable to complain about too much or too little government on all levels, but 99% of the complaints come from people sitting on sofas in the comforts of their living rooms while the 1% represented by the likes of McKee actually do the heavy lifting. Let's get off our collective lazy duffs and lend a hand.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Unfinished Business

An excellent review in this week's Time Magazine of David Foster Wallace's postumous novel, The Pale King. We haven't read the book yet, but the review adds to our incentive to buy it and take it on.

Wallace died by his own hand in Claremont in September, 2008.

"...this right here is me as a real person, David Wallace, age forty, SS no. 975-04-2012, addressing you from my Form 8829-deductible home office at 725 Indian Hill Blvd., Claremont 91711, CA, on this fifth day of spring 2005, to inform you of the folllowing: All of this is true. This book is really true."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spelling Bee Today

Besides meeting the Claremont City Council at the Farmers' Market today or attending the Japan Day fundraiser at the Claremont Colleges this afternoon, you can also check out the 6th Annual Friends of the Claremont Library Spelling Bee at Taylor Hall in Claremont's Cahuilla Park.

The Bee begins at 2pm, and there will be plenty of familiar faces on hand. The Friends of the Library have a new website with details about the event, as well as photo albums from years past. We borrowed a couple, courtesy of our friends The Friends:

Friday, April 1, 2011


click to enlarge

Sunday Benefit for Japan

One other thing happening this weekend. This Sunday, April 3, the Claremont Colleges will hold a day-long series of events to benefit victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. It's all part of Japan Day at the 5Cs. The events start at 1:30pm and continue on into the evening:

Japan Day at the Claremont Colleges

Time: Sunday, April 3 · 1:30pm - 10:00pm
Location: Claremont Colleges

Created By Claremont Colleges for Japan, Nanako Yano

This Sunday (April 3rd) is Japan Day at the Claremont Colleges!

There will be a series of events the entire day and many opportunities to donate to Miyagi Prefecture.

Please bring at least $1 to donate and buy baked goods!

  • 1:30pm, 3:30pm
    Two Japanese Films Showing at Pomona's Rose Hills Theater:
    Maboroshi (1:30-), Departures (3:30-)

  • 2pm, in front of Little Bridges
    Pomona Jazz Band performance

  • 3pm, Pomona SCC Room 212
    Discussion/Session with Psychologist, Brianne D. Goudelock from the Monsour Center

  • 7pm, Scripps Boone Recital Hall and Pattison Courtyard
    Pre-concert performances

  • 8pm, Scripps Garrison Theater
    Claremont Colleges for Japan Benefit Concert

April in Claremont

Lot of things happining in town this weekend...


The 2011 Claremont/La Verne Relay for Life takes place tomorrow beginning at 9am at on the track at Claremont High. You can read more about it on the event's website.

Event Schedule
Opening Ceremony: 9:00Am Sat
Survivors Lap: 9:00Am Sat
Luminaria Ceremony: 9:00Pm Sat
Fight Back / Closing Ceremony:8:30Am Sun

One day. One night. One community. One Fight. Relay For Life is a life-changing event that brings together more than 3.5 million people- to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer; remember loved ones lost to the disease; and fight back against a disease that takes too much. Won't you join us?

About Relay For Life

Teams of people camp out at a local high school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Relays are 24 hours in length; representing the reality that cancer never sleeps. By participating, you honor cancer survivors, pay tribute to the lives we've lost to the disease, and raise money to help fight cancer in your community.

Relay began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Washington, ran and walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Since then, Relay has grown from a single man’s passion to fight cancer into the world’s largest movement to end the disease. For more information, visit our Relay For Life information page.


Vince Turner at Claremont Community College reminds about the First Friday Art Walk tonight in the Claremont Village:
Date: Thu, March 31, 2011 11:52:10 AM
Subject: First Friday Art Walk
To: Claremont Buzz

We'll be participating in the Claremont First Friday Art Walk!

We'll start at 5:30 Friday at:

101 North Indian Hill Blvd. Suite C2-203
Above Casa Moreno on the 1st Street Side

And plan to attend the Claremont 5 Second Film Festival on Thursday April 28th!

Vince Turner
(909) 477-1747


Tomorrow afternoon at the Garrison Theater on the campus of Scripps College the Claremont Chorale performs Bach's St. John Passion:
J. S. Bach: Passion According to St. John
For one of Bach's greatest masterpieces, the Chorale will be joined by professional soloists and orchestra. Sung in English. View concert flyer (PDF) to see soloists.

Saturday, April 2, 2011 - 3:00 p.m.

Garrisson Auditorium - Scripps College
231 East 10th Street
Claremont, CA 91711

This performance is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.




At the door



Advance purchase

$13 (save $2)

$10 (save $2)

Season tickets

$36 (save $9)

$28 (save $8)

For advance and season tickets, send a check payable to The Claremont Chorale to P.O. Box 489, Claremont, CA 91711.

(Click to Enlarge)


Sunday, April 3, being the first Sunday of the month, means it's once again time for the Claremont City Council to trot out its booth at the Claremont Farmers' Market and greet the community.

The councilmembers will be working the both in one hour shifts beginning at 8am. You might not see newly-elected Joe Lyons (photo, right), though. Now that he's actually on the council, Joe is reverting to his pre-election interest in city matters, which was a big fat zero. At least, Joe doesn't seem to be too much interested in the community interest sorts of things the council does (the Friends of the Library Spelling Bee, for example). Callow Joe is apparently plotting his next move. Perhaps another run at Republican Bob Huff's State Senate seat. Anyway, the little things, like being a team player don't seem to be of much interest to our Mr. Lyons.
Talk With Council at the Farmer's Market

8:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Claremont Village
2nd Street between Indian Hill Boulevard and Yale Ave.
(909) 399-5460

Talk with council members when they "set up shop" at the Claremont Farmers' Market, on the 1st Sunday of each month.